May is International Masturbation Month!

By: Good Vibrations

This May marks the 25th anniversary of Masturbation May!

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We created this new holiday a quarter of a century ago in 1995, when then-Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders had recently been fired for saying that discussion of masturbation should be included in sex education.

Our Staff Sexologist Carol Queen PhD — who was at the table where National Masturbation Month was brainstormed — says, “We were astounded. That was the most sensible thing we’d ever heard a government official say — and it cost Elders her job! We had to do something, so we started National Masturbation Month so we could highlight the hypocrisy and shame surrounding this most natural of acts.”

Twenty-five years later, Masturbation May has gone global, with people celebrating all over the world, raising awareness and to highlighting the importance of masturbation for nearly everyone: it’s safe, it’s healthy, it’s free, it’s pleasurable and it helps people get to know their bodies and their sexual responses. Of all the kinds of sex people can have, masturbation is the most universal and important, yet few people talk about it freely — worse, many people still feel it is “second best” or problematic in some way. Masturbation May lets us emphasize how great it is: it’s natural, common and fun!

Masturbation May in the Time of COVID-19

If there was ever a sexual activity ideal for social distancing and #QuarantineLife, masturbation is it. You can do it alone, with a partner, over video chat, with or without toys… it’s endlessly variable, pleasurable, soothing, and under your control. It may be an unsung coping strategy, but masturbation is going to help us get through this difficult and unprecedented time.

While there will be no public gatherings commemorating Masturbation May this year, we will be reviving the most popular feature from the very first year of National Masturbation Month: the Masturbation Euphemism contest! Using the hashtag #MAYsturbation on social media, tell us your favorite euphemisms or phrases for solo pleasure– plus, you can take our Pleasure Poll – we want to learn more about what solo sex means to you, and you can win a GoodVibes.com eGift Card!

Why talk about masturbation?

Because many people still feel guilty about it, or feel they do it too much, or feel it’s a second-best substitute for “real” sex. We think it’s important to bring it out into the open and let people feel better about what they’re doing — and, for those who may not be doing it, we want to encourage it! Masturbation is, for many, the cornerstone to a healthy and good sex life. It isn’t second-best — it can give you the information and awareness you need to enjoy the rest of your sex life. Self-love rules!

History of the Masturbation Taboo

Almost everyone masturbates, but all too few of us are willing to admit to enjoying this simple pleasure — mostly because of the taboo against masturbation in our society, which has its roots in historical misconceptions that have survived to the present day. Concerns about masturbation tend to fall into two general categories: that masturbation is dangerously wasteful or that it’s immature. The notion that masturbation is wasteful springs from the widespread misconception that men have a finite allotment of sperm and that every ejaculation depletes precious semen, resulting in exhaustion and weakness. Although women don’t produce semen, it was once believed that masturbation was similarly destructive and debilitating to them. The belief that masturbation is such a dangerous drain on energy that it can lead to enfeeblement, illness and ultimately insanity was so persistent in 18th, 19th and even 20th century Europe and America that treatments for preventing masturbation became something of an obsession.

Turn-of-the-century magazines featured advertisements for penile rings which were spiked on the inside so that if the wearer experienced an erection during the course of the night, he’d wake from the pain. Bondage belts, restraints, straitjackets, cauterizing irons and even clitoridectomy (the surgical excision of the clitoris) were all methods used to prevent young women from masturbating. American health reformers of the 19th century preached, as in these words from John Kellogg, yes that Kellogg, that masturbation was “the vilest, the basest and the most degrading act that a human being can commit.”

Although most men and women today are aware that masturbation isn’t a “degrading act,” many are still constrained by the notion that it’s a selfish, immature activity or a second-rate substitute for partner sex. We live in a society in which sexual expression has always been legislated and restricted and the pursuit of pure pleasure is frequently condemned as selfish and childish. A lot of people who consider themselves free of sexual hang-ups have simply rewritten the equation “sex is only good if it involves procreation” to “sex is only good if it involves two loving people.” The fact that masturbation is a pleasurable end in itself gets short shrift in mainstream sex manuals, which focus on masturbation as a useful tool in the building of a better sex life with one’s partner. While it’s certainly true that masturbation provides valuable information about your own and your partners’ sexual responses, masturbation is much more than a means to the exalted end of better partner sex.

Why Masturbate?

·       Because masturbation is immensely pleasurable, invigorating, rejuvenating and fun.

·       Because sexual pleasure is each person’s birthright.

·       Because masturbation is the ultimate safe sex.

·       Because masturbation is a joyous expression of self-love.

·       Because masturbation offers numerous health benefits including menstrual cramp relief, stress reduction, endorphin release, stronger pelvic muscles, reduction of prostate gland infection and resistance to yeast infections.

·       Because masturbation is an excellent cardiovascular workout.

·       Because each person is their own best lover.

·       Because masturbation with a partner can be educational and hot.

·       Because masturbation increases sexual awareness.

For these and many other reasons we celebrate Masturbation May and affirm the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness and sexual pleasure!

Masturbation is our first sexual activity, a natural source of pleasure that’s available to us throughout our lives, and a unique form of creative self-expression. Each time you masturbate, you’re celebrating your sexuality and your innate capacity for pleasure, so give yourself a hand (wink wink)!