May is International Masturbation Month—seriously!
When I first heard of May being tagged as Masturbation Month, I did what most people I know would do—I giggled, shook my head and brushed it off as some media, internet hook to grab attention. (Though I couldn’t resist clicking the article on my Facebook feed and was quite surprised by what I discovered.)
International Masturbation Month officially began in 1995, after President Bill Clinton unjustly fired U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders for publicly speaking about her beliefs on self-sexual pleasure.
It was after a speech at the United Nations’ World AIDS Day in 1994, that an audience member asked Elders about the potential of masturbation for discouraging early sexual activity. She answered, “I think it is something that is part of human sexuality and a part of something that perhaps should be taught. But we’ve not even taught our children the very basics. And I feel that we have tried ignorance for a very long time and it’s time we try education.”
San Francisco based sex toy company, Good Vibrations, was outraged by Elders’ dismissal. They realized how many people lacked support and advice to help them enjoy the simple, basic act of self-pleasure and decided to do something about it.
Here’s what Good Vibrations has to say in Elders’ honor:
“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!”
Masturbation has a long history of stigma, shame and misconceptions—and from a very young age, society conditions children to believe self-pleasuring is sinful. The Catholic Church has played a huge part in this concept, with scandals involving priests and everything pointing towards pleasure being a “forbidden fruit.” And those who cannot resist will “be burned in hell.”
Trying to reverse this conditioning is attempting to transform a belief system that runs deep through centuries of our ancestral bloodlines. It won’t be an easy task.
Given the destructive messages many children receive about touching themselves while growing up, it’s understandable they may retain elements of shame which can affect their sexuality in adulthood and how they respond to relationships. If nothing is done to break the pattern, it goes on being taught to our children, our children’s children, and the cycle of shame continues.
I myself, realized how deeply this conditioning ran through me when I thought of the reactions other people might have about my writing an article outlining a healthy self-pleasuring practice—and that very reaction within is what made me realize how important it is to shine light, consciousness and awareness on the subject and eliminate the shame.
International Masturbation Month is an absolutely brilliant way to do this!
Health benefits of sacred self-pleasure include:
• The ultimate “safe sex.”
• Offers relief for pre-menstrual symptoms.
• Assists in stress reduction—orgasms trigger dopamine and serotonin natural mood lifters.
• Enhances endorphin release.
• Increases pelvic floor strength.
• Every person is his or her own best lover.
• Alleviates chronic back pain.
• Increases resistance to yeast infections.
• Increases sexual awareness.
• Expands pleasure capacity.
• Immensely invigorating, rejuvenating and fun!
The following is a very sweet video, filmed in India, where the Kama Sutra originated. It shows different Indian women expressing their ideas on self-pleasure. The concept behind this video is to persuade the mass to change their vision on such issues so people don’t have to feel ashamed.
If you support this holiday and find yourself feeling ashamed to do or say anything publicly, check in with yourself on what you are gaining by staying silent. How does silence help end the shame?
And on the flip side of that—by staying silent, how does that contribute to the embarrassment people feel? How can you help others feel safe to talk about self-pleasure openly?
Let’s be the change we want to see.
And if you are wanting to jump on this pleasure boat, may I recommend setting some pleasurable goals? Talk to people about perceptions and values. Share ideas on making conscious changes in reactions. Many people go on a 30-day masturbation marathon, and I believe if everyone committed to this, it could be a giant leap towards world peace.
So I invite you to join me in this self-pleasure movement this May—take a stand against the embarrassment.
Just say, “Yessssss!”
Author: Nolita Ananda
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Holly Lay