National Masturbation Day


May 7th was National Masturbation Day. Did you miss it? Go ahead and celebrate today.

Since almost all adults and children give themselves sexual pleasure, the day is an opportunity for us to come out of the closet. But you won’t find any Hallmark cards or office picnics commemorating the day. It seems that most Americans would rather admit to having sex with their dog than admit to having sex with themselves.

We have no respect for masturbation. To begin with, the word comes from the Latin masturbatus: “to defile with the hand.” In today’s vernacular, when we want to tell someone to quit wasting time, we say, “Stop jerking off.”

What’s more, for 1,800 years of Christian theology we have been deliberately misled to think that the Bible denounces masturbation. In fact, there’s nothing in the Bible prohibiting masturbation. When Onan angered God by spilling his seed, he wasn’t masturbating; he was interrupting intercourse to prevent impregnating his dead brother’s widow.

Americans are uncomfortable about masturbation because we’re ambivalent about sexual pleasure that isn’t redeemed by romantic love. And, of course, we’re all taught that the point of sex is procreation, not recreation.

But this flies in the face of our personal experience. Masturbation feels good. It’s part of how babies learn to control their little hands (imagine that discovery!); years later, it’s how most of us continue learning about our sexuality. And women, in particular, can teach themselves to orgasm by practicing with a vibrator, pillow, running water or their own hand.

Adults use masturbation in many ways: to pleasure ourselves, comfort ourselves, maintain our erotic independence, experiment with new sensations, educate our partners. Masturbation isn’t a substitute for sex; it is sex — sex, as Woody Allen said, with someone you love. Or, as Betty Dodson says, “sex for one.”

As a sex therapist, I never ask couples if they masturbate. I’ve learned how horrified many people are to acknowledge their private habit. Instead, I ask people if they think their mate masturbates. It’s often the beginning of an intimate conversation they didn’t expect to have.

There are so many good things about masturbation.

Masurbation Tips and Facts:

• Experiment with lubricants and toys for some new feelings.

• Invite your partner to pleasure himself or herself while you hold and stroke him or her.

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