Our expert says:
Just what is it about masturbation that freaks people out? Why is it so filled with taboo? Well, the historical reason for the "masturbation is evil" ideology is simple. Most of the major religions in the world say lust and fulfillment of lust is bad. Masturbation is easily construed as the fulfillment of lust, therefore it is bad. If you are Catholic or Anglican you also have the burden of "masturbation is a seed wasted" to deal with. If you are Mormon, you have the "body as temple and masturbation as desecration of that temple" thing to deal with. Bottom line, if your religious, masturbation is bad at best, sinful at worst. Even if you aren't overly religious, the modern attitudes toward masturbation are shaped by these early ideologies and sustained by the majority of the world's population who still believe in some sort of organised religion.
Fine! If we accept that religion is to blame for masturbation's bad rap over the centuries, how do we account for all the decidedly non-religious stereotypes about it that persist today? The answer is simple, these masturbation myths are a way of keeping people from indulging in self gratification, and for lots of us they work. I listen in horror everyday when patients tell me what will happen to them if they masturbate: Apparently, if you masturbate you run the risk of; getting hairy palms, getting warts on your fingers, going blind, having a permanent erection, never being able to get an erection, shrinking your penis pernamently, never being able to have real sex, never being able to father children, going insane and becoming a sex pervert. And the masturbation myths that plague girls are pretty much the same. But it doesn't stop a person from worrying and wondering, "Is this normal?".
I remember laughing out loud when watching Angela's Ashes as the main character and his friends earnestly confessed to masturbation, only to run out of the church and in to the fields to indulge. If you haven't seen the movie, it is a true story about an Irish Catholic family in post war Ireland. It is extremely sad, and I'm sure the masturbation scene is intended to lighten up and otherwise extremely depressing film. It works! For a brief moment you forget that this sad tale involves the deaths of 3 babies and the abandonment of an impoverished family by a drunkard father. For a brief fleeting moment you are struck by the reality that masturbation is a normal part of growing up and that it has been for at least 50 years (maybe even longer), and this epiphany makes you laugh.
It is the strange irony of masturbation - if it isn't grossing you out, it's making you laugh. It is the punchline of at least 50% of all "boy jokes" (OK, and "man jokes") and it is guaranteed to get a giggle or two from the girls. "Are you a master?" says Boy1 to Boy2. "A what?" Boy2 replies wrinkling his nose. Boy1, "A master, you know a masturbator?". "Hahahah!", from all the kids within ear shot. It is an exchange played out in every school at some time or another. Seinfeld did a whole episode about masturbation, "The Contest", and with it's catch phrase "master of your own domain" it was one of the shows funniest episodes - ever. There's Something About Mary would not have been anywhere near as memorable if it weren't for that funky hairstyle and the special gel that made it stay up so well. I don't think I have to remind you how the movie American Pie got it's title or how Jason Biggs made his mark on the teen movie scene. Because it is taboo, because we all wonder why it is taboo, masturbation makes good comedy.
Please visit www.jackinworld.com an excellent site with information on masturbation
Dr Elna McIntosh
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