National Masturbation Month

So, the fifth month of the year is one dedicated to not only the transition of Spring to Summer, blooming flowers and improving weather; but also to us growing and developing ourselves. It is encouraging people to engage with themselves more sexually and to celebrate self-love and pleasure.

And National Masturbation Month isn’t something new; it was started by the San Francisco based sex shop Good Vibrations in 1994, and for a very good reason. It was in response to the forced-resignation of the then-Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders after she made a comment about masturbation being a part of human sexuality that should be included in taught sex education. For this she lost her position, but Good Vibrations responded with a message of reassurance. They were fighting back against the idea that masturbation was something that could not be discussed, and they aimed to take the conversations out into the mainstream.

It is arguable that masturbation is good for us and good for our health. It is a way of showing self care, giving ourselves pleasure in a way that is naturally engrained. The clitoris is the only part of the body where the sole purpose is for pleasure, so in the words of Woody Allen “Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.”

So it seems strange to think that discussion of masturbation still produces all sorts reactions when it is mentioned in conversation. When in fact any other act which brings pleasure and encourages knowing and developing our sense of self and therefore better enables us to show others what we like, would in any other walk of life be celebrated. Not only that, but if we discussed enjoying having any other body part touched those around us wouldn’t bat an eyelid. It’s probably one of the most universally practiced acts, but yet one of the least talked about.

We have a right to sexual pleasure. And for us to best know how to achieve that, we should be aware of what we like first, and this can then better enable us to educate our partners about what we like. It also demonstrates how we respect our own bodies. This shows others the way we like touch, and that therefore they should respect our knowledge and demonstrate the same care and affection.

It also allows us to be vulnerable, to give ourselves permission to be free, and to know and trust in the ability of our bodies.

There is even evidence from the world of neuroscience that shows that when a women orgasms that the amygdala, the area in the brain that is responsible for certain emotions, survival instincts, fear and motivation is less active — indicating perhaps that women achieve orgasm when feeling safer or less inhibited, but this is also something that in some way should be practiced in order that we feel comfortable. It is important that we are first comfortable with ourselves, so that we can then feel the same with others.

So don’t let National Masturbation Month pass you by without thinking about it. The choice is yours if you wish to participate — your body, your choice. But the message is clear, don’t deny yourself self-care, self-pleasure and self-attention because of what you perceive everyone else to be doing. Be more like Meg Ryan in the famous film ‘When Harry Met Sally’ and say to yourself, “I’ll have what she’s having” (for real!).

katemoyleBY KATE MOYLE
PSYCHOSEXUAL THERAPIST
@KATEMOYLEPSYC