Beating the Bishop: Thoughts on Masturbationby Don Lacey on Jul. 15, 2012, under Arizona Families, Critical Thinking, Education, Ethics, Freethought, Nature, Question of the Day!, Reason, Science, That's Life!
Jim Wilson shares his thoughts on a delicate subject:
When I was growing up, the topic of masturbation seemed rather mysterious and taboo. I certainly could not bring it up or allude to it in my parents’ presence. It always felt awkward to be around them if a movie or TV even subtly hinted at this very normal human behavior. I certainly would not want them to think I was engaging in it which of course I inevitably was. Even to this day like most sexual matters it is still something I am unlikely to bring up around relatives especially ones from an older generation than myself. However, talking about it to complete strangers on this blog seems strangely comfortable.
My friends during my early adolescence were not much help either. Though we were typical adolescent boys “jacking off” always carried a stigma. I figured that being caught fondling one’s self was the type of thing one could be blackmailed for. It seemed to gross-out the girls who unbeknownst to me were doing it too and there was always something that came off as dirty or sinful about it. Accusations of jacking off often came in the same context of accusations of being homosexual, which definitely had a negative social stigma. Kids who were bullied were often were called “faggot”, “gaywad,” or “queer” and it was not uncommon for this to be accompanied by accusations of strange sexual behavior. Goodness knows, we had elaborate theories about the wild gay orgies our least favorite middle school teachers engage in on the weekends when the school was closed.
Overtime, I learned that masturbation was simply something that nearly everyone does and a perfectly normal and healthy exercise of one’s sexuality. Around this time while I was in high school I met a young man who told me that he had never masturbated due to it being forbidden by his particular Christian sect and asked me why people do it and what it is like. This made for a strange discussion but I ultimately had my doubts though that he had never done it. If so, it would seem that his life would be characterized by intolerable sexual tension.
Which brings me to my main point; I’m happy to live after the Victorian era, after the sexual revolution, at a time when human sexuality is viewed in a generally positive light. It is obvious that we need to give our younger people clearer messages about it being OK to explore their sexuality. The idea that some would feel ashamed or embarrassed just about engaging in a perfectly safe healthy normal and harmless activity like masturbation strikes me as major problem.
It is problematic that we make hormone filled young people at the height of their sexual desire feel ashamed or dirty about this. This may be one of the unfortunate effects of our advanced society which requires people be dependent on their families till a latter age. It makes for an unfortunate war against our biology. After all, people in traditional societies were considered full adults ready to raise families by their early teens. Our culture’s desire to treat people of that age as children results in endless household drama sexual frustration as well as bullying and suicide. Making our culture more open and positive about human sexuality would be a big plus. This includes more positive and accepting messages about masturbation. Talking about sexual topics with kids is an awkward process and I do not know what to suggest. Most of us don’t want our kids to say things like “I’m going up to my room to wank it for a while.” But you can find a way that works for you. One thing is for sure, as freethinkers we need to do our part to tear down the cultural and religious taboos on subjects like this.
Editor’s note: There is a fairly good discussion on this topic on this Christian website. If you’re looking for a wide variety of opinions check HERE but with the exception of the whole “sin” part of the discussion, the first website mentioned covers the subject pretty nicely.
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