Scrolling down the Instagram news feed on the 7th of May 2019, I encountered a post that made me squint. And so would have many of you had you encountered the same post.
“May has cum and so should you. National Masturbation Month.”
I have seen a lot of stupefying posts before but that one was a little out of hand by my standards. I quickly consulted the google search engine.
Back in 1994, Dr. Joycelyn Elders was a Surgeon General in the US. She was a great proponent of sex education and masturbation. Her logic was, kids ought to be taught that masturbation is okay. She is famous for saying:
“As per your specific question in regard to masturbation, I think that is something that is a part of human sexuality and it’s a part of something that perhaps should be taught. But we’ve not even taught our children the very basics.”
The media escalated the situation to mean, “Let’s bring some dildos to class and teach these kindergartners to have some fun!” Every parent with a kindergartner got outraged. Pressure mounted on Dr. Elders to a point of forced resignation. The Republicans and the Democrats at the time jubilated for her departure since she was for absurd ideologies. A small population however were in disagreement. They found Dr. Elders as propagating for the right. And so, a certain sex shop called Good Vibrations took action in 1995 and declared May as the National Masturbation Month. Since then, it has grown to International Masturbation Month. Did you know that?
In honor of Dr. Elders, Good Vibrations sex shop said this: We started National Masturbation Month — now International Masturbation Month with people celebrating across the globe! — To raise awareness and to highlight 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 Month lets us emphasize how great it is: it’s natural, common and fun!
You probably have a myriad of questions to this point but hold on.
Back in my primary school days I used to hear the older pupils in standard 8 use a word ‘punyeto’. It is actually the correct Swahili word for masturbation. One awful evening in the door less mabati pit latrines of my primary school that is located in one of the most interior parts of Kisii land, I witnessed a guy well known to me self-pleasuring himself. I could swear that I was witnessing a demon possessed man equivalent to those who Jesus used to cast out demons from. He was making strange noises until he met with my glaring visage. There is not a single abusive Kisii word I wasn’t called that day. He put back on his green shorts and began chasing after me whilst cursing in loud tones. I am forever indebted to one Mr. Barnabas Oyugi who somehow rescued my panting self from an impending beating as he was patrolling the boys’ compound as the teacher on duty.
That incident taught me two things; that masturbation can be shameful and can really make people get violent. The guy never spoke to me until he cleared his KCPE. I have since learnt a lot about the act. (From literature and not practically, lest I lose friends.)
As at 1994, a study titled ‘Sex in America: A Definitive Survey.’ done by Michael, Robert T, John H. Gagnon, Edward O. Laumann, & Gina Kolata came up with amusing findings; Approximately 70 percent of men in their late 20’s masturbate, and more than 50 percent of women in their 30’s masturbate. In fact, women and men from their early adult years (18–24) through middle adult years (54–59) are more likely to masturbate than people in other age groups. Fast forward to 2019, the situation must have escalated to probably 90% of men and 75% of women masturbating despite mutual opposite sexual relations.
What does this mean? This is something that ought to be part of the conversations people have on a frequent basis. Dare to talk of masturbation in public forums and if you aren’t ousted out of the gathering, it would be an indication that as Kenyans we have attained the status of standard morality, sanity, civilization and utmost societal sobriety.
One of my most favorites life sessions being sessions in church, I will never dare forget a narration given to us by a preacher I would called Joe. He is the kind of eloquent preacher that you could listen to for hours on end. He was preaching on a subject, “Awakening Bodily Passions”. He began, “It is sad how we have been rooted in masturbation yet we are unaware that we are addicted. A gentleman approached me and confessed to engaging in masturbation and expressed the desire to quit. I helped him pray overcome the addiction. He would get to the bathroom and vow not to engage in it but then his bodily passions overcame him. After he did it once, he would kneel down while in the bathroom and cry for having slid back to it. After he was up from crying, he would still do it again. The heart may be sincere but the bodily passions require Jesus to overcome them.”
He was a man of God and so that incident must have been a true one. By the time one is addicted to that point, isn’t that animalistic? In the book Metaphysics of Morals, Immanuel Kant states: a man gives up his personality…when he uses himself merely as a means for the gratification of an animal drive.
In reality, masturbation requires a stimulating factor and that only means, one would resort to porn which is another addictive phenomenon. And so the sexual stimuli always would be other people having sex and that would be unnatural in absoluteness. Even if you masturbate without watching porn, where does the urge come from? It comes from sexual fantasies and you are going to think about sexual things until the point of release. Religious physician Robert James, on masturbation, writes and says, ‘There is perhaps no sin productive of so many hideous consequences.’
On the website Psychology Today, I read of a profound confession from one Rousseau who discovered masturbation while in Italy. He said he returned a different person from the one who had gone there.
“[There I] learnt of that dangerous means of cheating Nature, which leads young men of my temperament to various kinds of excesses, that eventually imperil their health, and sometimes their lives. This vice, which shame and timidity find so convenient, has a particular attraction for lively imaginations. It allows them to dispose, so to speak, of the whole female sex at their will, and to make any beauty who tempts them serve their pleasure without the need of first obtaining her consent.”
Making it not to sound just like a male’s affair a female friend of mine confided her brief story. In verbatim she said:
“I can’t tell you exactly why I started, but as a young teenage girl, I found myself habitually masturbating. Before I fully even understood what I was doing, I sensed instinctively that what I was doing was not right. It never made me feel better — rather, it would make me feel dirty, empty, and full of regret. As I grew older, the feeling that I was the only one battling with masturbation addiction overwhelmed me immensely. I have tried quitting severally I haven’t been able to sincerely. I am scared of whether I will get a good husband and especially the fact that I may have to tell him how I struggled with masturbation. I think I may never even get married. I once asked God to take away my sexual desires but I felt it was not the right kind of prayer.”
Proponents of masturbation have put forth pros of the act such as pleasure and convenience for the unmarried who are battling with immense sexual desires, widows and widowers and when partners part temporarily. Further, they indicate that masturbation comes with fewer complications where there is no contracting sexually transmitted diseases. It is again true that in sexually inactive men, masturbation flushes out sperms with low motility and reduces the risk of prostate cancer. If practiced before sexual intercourse, it can delay orgasms in men suffering from premature ejaculations. It is with humor that also the proponents of masturbation suggest that it invites sleep by inducing the release of the feel good hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin. It also is a form of light exercise compared to regular exercise that leads to improved cardiovascular fitness. Do their cisterns of advocating for masturbation sufficiently hold water?
Coitus Interruptus being a product of lust, Jeremy Taylor couldn’t be more eloquent by stating:
“Lust is a captivity of the reason and an enraging of the passions. It hinders business and distracts counsel. It sins against the body and weakens the soul.”