Merry Masturbation Month!
Of course, for some of us, Masturbation Month is a year-round affair; for others (poor souls), not one moment, let alone a whole month, is devoted to the so-called “solitary vice.” Nevertheless, for over two decades, sexologists have designated May as the month we celebrate sexual freedom where it originates—with ourselves.
Most of us are content to keep our sex-for-one fun in the closet (or at least under the covers), and we all have a right to that privacy. But if ever there is a time to honor and extol the virtues of sex-for-one, it is now.
Virtues, I say? For centuries, masturbation has been denigrated as self-abuse. However, more and more, we are calling it what it really is: self-pleasure. It feels good. And guess what? It is good. So what is it good for? In general, sexual solitaire does a lot more good than bad, and the benefits far outweigh the stigma.
The following are the top eight benefits to masturbation—aka wanking, jacking, or jilling off, walking the dog, polishing the pearl, spanking the monkey, dancing around the Maypole, self-pleasure or, as Doonesbury calls it, “self-dating”—starting with the fact that:
8. Masturbation is natural.
Animals do it: Bonobos, dolphins, horses, dogs, kangaroos, porcupines, and most other animals, including (if not especially) humans. Ultrasounds show us that many fetuses-in-utero put their tiny hands between their little legs, and masturbate.
Powerful gods of various major and minor religions and their emissaries on Earth may rail against it, but the science tells us that masturbation is natural. There is no alternative fact.
7. Masturbation is convenient.
As Truman Capote once pointed out, “You don’t have to dress up for it.” Come as you are. The Greek philosopher Diogenes praised the extraordinary physical efficiency of masturbation: “Would to heaven that it were enough to rub one’s stomach in order to allay one’s hunger.” The folks who brought the world the concept of democracy understood the powerful, positive benefits of solo sex. So did their gods. Maybe we should, too.
6. Masturbation is eco-sexual.
Though masturbation has been called “self-pollution,” it actually produces very little real pollution (unless you toss your tissues out the car window). Not to mention, masturbation is a great form of population control—you won’t get pregnant or get anyone pregnant from it.
You can try getting even more eco-sexual with your self-love by doing it in the great outdoors where you feel at-one-with-nature (but not in a park where you’ll get arrested). Love the earth you make love on. Just watch out for the poison oak.
Also, some fruits and vegetables seem shaped for masturbation. Could this be a divine sign? Try a nice cucumber or turnip—nature’s own dildos! Speaking of divine signs, remember what George Carlin said, “If God had intended you not to masturbate, he would have made your arms shorter.”
5. Masturbation is safe.
As long as you’re not playing auto-asphyxiation games or sticking light bulbs up your rectum, you won’t get hurt. And if you’re only using your own toys, or putting condoms on the ones you share, you won’t get an STD. Even more important, you won’t hurt other people.
Just in case you’re clueless about consent, masturbation keeps you from unwanted sexual encounters. Another great Greek self-pleasure legend says Hermes taught the skill to Pan to calm his ardor when his lust for a nymph went unrequited, showing masturbation to be a great way to relieve fierce sexual desires for someone who doesn’t want the same.
4. Masturbation is relaxing.
Partner sex is more romantic, but it can be stressful in ways that masturbation is not. Director Milos Foreman said, “What I like about masturbation: You don’t have to talk afterwards.” No pressure. Just pleasure. Much like partner sex, orgasms through masturbation can relax you deeply, release your stress, and help you to get the rest that your body needs.
3. Masturbation is educational.
When it comes to learning your own turn-ons physically and mentally, you can’t beat masturbation education. You can use your self-pleasure time to practice your kegels, tantric breathing, or the stop-start technique. You can test new sex toys more easily when solo-sexing than when you’re with a partner. But mutual masturbation is also educational: show and tell your partner what you like. Talk about homeschooling! You won’t want to play hooky from this.
2. Masturbation is healthy.
Masturbation, especially when climaxing with a good heart-pumping orgasm, is a cardio workout that is great for your heart rate, blood pressure, and brain chemistry. It also protects against yeast infections in women and prostate cancer in men; not to mention, masturbation releases mood-boosting endorphins, and it can clear your sinuses, at least temporarily.
It also keeps you in shape for partner sex. “Use it or lose it” they say, and masturbation uses it. Self-pleasure is healing in a million different ways, physical and mental. Heal your sexual shame through self-pleasure. Most importantly, masturbation will not kill you. Auto-asphyxiation notwithstanding, nobody dies from masturbation. And despite the age-old myths, you won’t go blind.
1. Masturbate: Know thy sexual self.
Nobody talks about it, but the longest long-term relationship you’ll ever have is the one you have with yourself. So why not make it a good one? Masturbation helps you to “know thyself” (with a hat tip to Socrates), at least sexually speaking. So, get into it, and get to know you. Treat yourself. Even if just for a few moments, focus on your pleasure without worrying about anyone else. Turn self-pleasure into self-love.
And no, that doesn’t make you selfish, it makes you feel good. And when you feel good, you’re more likely to be able to help others feel good, too.
Author: Susan M. Block, Ph.D.
Image: Christopher Campbell/Unsplash
Editor: Taia Butler