Masturbation May: The Benefits, and the Taboo
By: Lex Wurth
Hey, it’s May! For those who don’t know, it’s also the national month to celebrate masturbation! This May marks the 27th anniversary of the celebration, which began in 1995, first credited to the Good Vibrations sex shop in San Francisco.
Good Vibrations was founded in 1977 by Joani Blank. Unlike other sex toy retailers, Joani wanted to focus on the pleasure of women, which throughout its time, has come to support people on the entire gender spectrum. Good Vibrations decided to respond to the forced resignation of Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders, who spoke out on topics such as sexuality.
Elders supported the instruction of sex education for all ages and suggested that the education should begin at a young age. Dr. Elders stated, “As per your specific question in regard to masturbation, I think that is something that is a part of human sexuality and it’s a part of something that perhaps should be taught. But we’ve not even taught our children the very basics.” Dr. Elders was responding to the continuing of the AIDS crisis in the 1990s by suggesting the instruction on the benefits of masturbation in sex education, to help alleviate some of the peer pressure that young people felt to have sex. Dr. Elders faced backlash from conservatives, for this proposal, as well as her idea for providing contraceptives in schools and her criticization of most of the Catholic Church for their views against abortion.
Masturbation remains a controversial conversation, one not to be had in a coffee shop or at the dinner table. When we think of masturbation, many people, if they support it at all, thinks its “normal” and “healthy” for boys and men, but consider it gross or obscene for girls and women to enjoy self-pleasure. Women’s sexuality has been under fire for as long as one can remember. Women and girls face being called “prudish” if they cover up or conceal their sexuality, and are called “sluts” and other slurs, for embracing that natural part of their identity.
To be clear: Masturbation is a healthy activity, where one can discover their body, and learn what they do and don’t like. It is a way to learn what is normal with your body, so that one can easily detect what is abnormal for them, helping to detect health concerns early. Whether or not you celebrate this month, we hope that you’re able to consider masturbation as a shame-free practice, and who knows, maybe you’ll uncover something new about yourself.