Let’s close the book on some antiquated beliefs that have kept people from indulging in masturbation – a harmless pastime that is healthy, fun, and relaxing.
Masturbation feels good and is good for you, although we do have to get past all the Old Wives Tales that held sway in the days of Queen Victoria. It’s 2021, and despite extensive and ongoing research, we have yet to identify anyone who went blind or grew hair on their hands from masturbating. A treatise published in France in 1830, entitled Le Livre Sans Titre (The Book Without a Title), An Illustrated Warning of the Deadly Perils of Self Abuse, tells the tale of a young man who pleasured himself so frequently that he wasted away and died at the age of 17. If this behavior could truly result in the premature death of its practitioners, the world population would be reduced to a few celibate monks, devoted nuns, and zealous flagellants. Arguably, such a base population would not be of much use in re-populating the planet.
While the English word “masturbation” doesn’t appear in the language until the 18th Century, we’re confident the practice has been around since the first cave-dwellers discovered their genitals, and that they felt good when they touched them. Depictions of men and women masturbating have been found in prehistoric petroglyphs. Greek and Roman art, literature, and sculpture were full of masturbatory images, and the word “masturbation” comes down to us from the Latin “Manus” (hand) and “Turbare” (disturb). Ignoring and denying the importance of masturbation as a healthy sexual outlet put a serious damper on the phenomenon, and forced people – particularly women – into adherence with an outdated, puritanical canon of rules. This forced compliance, even today, can be destructive, almost soul-killing. We still find women, for example, who because of the strict moralistic way they were raised, were so convinced that self-pleasure was a sin that they were afraid to touch themselves or engage in any sexual activity.
In spite of these constraints, many women, with help from a few enlightened physicians and psychologists, discovered that masturbation and orgasm alleviated menstrual cramps and an assortment of other “female” problems. The introduction of electric vibrators in the late 19th Century had women lining up to receive treatment for what was then termed “hysteria”. Vibrators were seen as a cure-all for cramps, endometriosis, lung congestion, flat feet, insomnia, promiscuity, mood swings, heart disease, hot flashes, nausea, anxiety and so on. While they never were the magical treatment for all those ills, vibrators did prove to be a more effective pain reliever than heating pads and Midol. Even if masturbation never lived up to all the fantastical promises, it has at least been acknowledged as a tension reliever, and an aid to the production of endorphins. These two in combination bring about a sense of well-being and encourage sleep. Sleep is crucial to the body’s renewal, and strengthens the immune system. So go ahead… masturbate! If nothing else, you’ll be happier and healthier.