Masturbation 101

The Theory

I have a theory.  It has yet to be tested extensively, but I stand strongly behind the idea that if every woman masturbated, world peace would be established.  Just a thought.

While obviously my conclusion is a bit of an exaggeration, I do believe that more female masturbation would have positive effects on our society.  Just another example of the sexist world we live in is the increased acceptance and assumption of men masturbating as normal.  Yet, stigma and negative attitudes surround the topic of masturbation and causes 50% of individuals, both men and women, who masturbate to feel guilty about it.  Meanwhile, approximately 70% of men and 50% of women report masturbating.

The Myths

Rumors and myths run rampant regarding the consequences of masturbation for both men and women.  These falsehoods are depicted in the media, passed through families, and reinforced by peers.  However, masturbation does not cause hair growth of the palms of the hands, will not make you blind, won’t change the shape, color or texture of sex organs, won’t stunt your growth, cause injury, infertility, mental illness or make someone gay.  In fact, masturbation does not have any risks other than possible skin irritation, which is what lubrication is for.

The Benefits

While the derogatory myths are false, the benefits of masturbation are vast.  Emotionally, masturbation decreases stress and sexual tension, and increases self-esteem, body image, and sense of well-being. Sexually, those who masturbate report enhanced sexual activity, greater sexual and relationship satisfaction with their partners, and increased ability to achieve orgasm.  Individuals learn about their bodies, their sexuality, and how they can be sexually stimulated.  Physically, masturbation can improve sleep, relieve muscular tension and menstrual cramps, strengthen muscle tone of the pelvic area to prevent urinary leakage and uterine prolapse in women and treat sexual dysfunction.  Masturbation is a great option for those without sexual partners or those choosing to practice abstinence.  There is no risk of STIs or pregnancy if performed solo!

More men masturbate than women, and while still surrounded by stigma, masturbation appears to be much more acceptable and discussed for men than for women.  Those who masturbate learn about their sexuality, their bodies, how to achieve orgasm, what feels good and what does not.  They have better body image and higher self-esteem and can direct their partners during sexual activity.  If more women masturbated, what would be the effect on women’s self esteem? On their self confidence, both in and out of the bedroom? How would it affect their sexuality?  Their role within relationships? Their body image? Would it change rates of teenage pregnancy? The occurrence of assault and violence toward women? What would happen to the misogynistic porn industry and the media that reflects it, which focuses on and dictates what is supposed to be pleasurable and teaching women and men what is “sexy” and what is SUPPOSED to turn them on?

So, y’all know what your homework is 😉

References

Cullins, V. Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc., (2011). Masturbation. Retrieved from website: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/sex-101/masturbation-23901.htm

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The cost of denial

The only reason I can think of for people to deny, deny, deny, the prevalence of sexual assault in our society is because they’re too scared.

They are scared that if it’s true and if they admit the reality, then they, their friends, their loved ones are no longer safe and dammit, they might actually feel compelled to do something about it!

I suppose I can’t blame people for wanting so desparately to feel safe, because once you admit the truth that you have a 20-25% chance of being a victim of sexual assault and that so many people you know and care about have already been assaulted, it is actually harder to get out of bed everyday and walk the streets because of the fear and the disgust and the disappointment in humanity.

If this applies to you, I hope you think long and hard about your denial. I hope you realize just how badly it hurts, how strongly your questioning stings those of us who have gone through it. I hope you do your research and educate yourself before you take up another insensitive debate with another survivor. Before you cause someone else to relive the victimization and question themselves and the years of re-education, of therapy, of activism that it took to recognize that they were not at fault for the wrongs done upon them.

On Tuesday

On Tuesday: a reflection on Cape Town, South Africa

Some days I’m head-over-heels in love with this country, but other days there are too many hardships and not enough solutions and I feel so helpless in dealing with what I see.  

Like when I have to ignore countless people who approach me on the street pleading for cash with which to buy something to eat because they are so hungry- because the money is more than likely used for drugs, not food and if not I still can’t try to feed everyone on the block.

Like when the sister at the clinic can’t take a blood pressure on her patient because she has a burn wound on her left arm and two stab wounds on her right arm and the poor woman is so thin and has two kids in foster care, is living with drug addicts and is only a year older than me.

Like when the café staff run out of the kitchen, yelling and scolding in Afrikaans, the two young, hungry boys who are asking me if I’m planning on finishing my cake, and when they won’t give up and leave, the cook comes out with a curtain rod with which to chase them away.

Like when our cab driver gets out and yells at the rival cabdriver in front of us who is blocking the path “You asshole! You fucking blacks are all the same!” And I sit in confusion trying to determine why he would insult his fellow countryman when I realize our driver is considered “coloured” and the other is categorized “black” and therefore they will remain a world apart due to the arbitrary rules set by some white man in high court a hundred years before. 

Like when I slip out from my professional demeanor at the children’s hospital and can’t help but whisper “I love you” to the 2 year old boy who only just learned how to walk, abandoned by his family due to the tuberculosis that has infected his spine. And he looks up at me with his dark brown eyes and practices this brand new phrase, “I love you,” back to me.

I love this beautiful country, but I can’t always ignore these things I see. 

20/11/12