Updated: Apr 2, 2018
When we start a conversation about our ability to love ourselves, everyone has something to say. Like, somehow, our self-esteem is valued only if we can verbally communicate it- we must proudly claim self-love and acceptance when it is asked of us. But self love extends much further than the capacity to feel love for the person we are inside... self love has as much to do with the lack of shame as it does the existence of acceptance. We must engage in all aspects of self care: emotional, spiritual and physical, in order to achieve this.
I should start by mentioning something that is a transformative concept coined by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardin: we are a complete sexual entity. I have touched on this briefly before in my Swiss Cheese post, feel free to refer back if you haven't read it. The idea is basically this: as humans we posses the ability to bring ourselves to full satisfaction, a gift that has been given to us from the beginning of time. We are entirely sexually fulfilled alone and through no need for anyone or anything else. The beauty of this concept is that you are welcome to share your sexuality with another one or another hundred, at once or throughout your lifetime, without needing to have any other motivation other than you just feel like it. There is not need to search for a missing piece of yourself that will somehow complete you. We are not just emptiness waiting to be filled. We are glasses full waiting to create delicious mixed concoctions with others. This, despite of the centuries old culture of soul mates and happily-ever-afters. Our world is no longer in desperate need of procreation! We can just take our time, without having to be held responsible for making sure the species survives. Hell, even that our last name survives! The Smiths will be ok without your Jr.
In a longitudinal study by Harvard University's prostate health department of almost 30k participants, it was shown that men who habitually have more than 22 ejaculations per month have a 33% lower rate of prostate and colon cancer. The study included all types of ejaculations, regardless of whether they were nocturnal emissions, masturbation, intercourse with a spouse or with a third party. Important to note, if you are not ridding yourself of sperm- if you have had a vasectomy or another form of physical abnormality (tumors, cysts, hernias)- your chances of developing similar cancers becomes much higher, especially the younger you were when the damage occurred. If the ability to ward off cancer and increase longevity is not the best indicator of whether or not you should be doing something, I don't know what is. We can hypothesize that orgasm effects on women could also be beneficial to their health. Similar studies have not been conducted on women, probably because historically we have invested much less in defending a woman's ability to feel and access pleasure than we have men. After all, we made them entirely responsible for childbearing when we developed the daily birth control pill in the 60's (by we, I mean an incredible woman in her 80's- Margaret Sanger- after raising only 150k to make it happen). Now almost 60 years later we finally have word that there could possibly be one being made for men... same thing we have heard since the turn of the century. Could you image making men responsible for their own reproduction? And without having to turn to some drastic, permanent and rather invasive (albeit, emotionally) surgery. Ludicrous!
But if lowering our chances of cancer is not enough for us to fully support the unabashed satisfying of our body's urges, than maybe the idea that life is stressful and orgasms are built-in stress relief buttons can help. Let's go back to Dossie Easton + Janet Hardin and their awesome concepts. Their book "The Ethical Slut" has a beautiful quote
We have never met anyone who had low self-esteem at the moment of orgasm
Thank you for that. If we are so accustomed to a society that forces us to constantly question ourselves, our actions and our beliefs; maybe having access to the one moment where we can truly allow ourselves to exist in complete pleasure and with out self-judgement, is the key to the balance we so desperately seek.
But perhaps the question is not whether we should orgasm more often but how we should orgasm more often. Being a "complete sexual entity", the fastest and most accessible way for us to get there is by ourselves. Logistically speaking, our life simply doesn't fit the time to spend hours on foreplay 22X per month! But think about it- you have been alone with your hands and your body since you were in your mother's womb. There are no fingers that can make motions like those you have developed and created conditioning with over your entire lifetime. At least not without some pretty intense training (hello reason to get involved in a committed relationship!).
Throughout the majority of human history, we have held the belief that orgasm was of urgent importance. As early as 1900 BCE, in the Kahun Papyri there was mention of women who has become "hysterical", believed to be a disease caused by the accumulation of female seminal fluid- and exhibited mostly in widows. Forward to the 19th century, we even had doctors routinely masturbating women to orgasm, who would schedule numerous visits per month, and create entire treatments for their "hysteria". This eventually leads to the invention of the vibrator as a medical device- which becomes one of the first 5 available electric appliances for the home in the US. Yet, somehow in modern society we have managed to bring people shame and embarrassment about their urges to seek pleasure - not in small part from the makers of fairy tales and happily ever afters.
Remember the difference between shame and embarrassment when you think of these concepts: embarrassment is being regretful of an action that you were involved in, or of the publicity of that action; shame is being regretful of something that you are, or who you are being brought to light. The people that brought to you the shame of self-touch are the same people who were (and still are) molesting young altar boys, and eventually sweeping that molestation under their publicly-funded rugs. The same ones who vowed celibacy as a claim to their commitment to their god but who's hands lifted up nun's robes as they bent over desks in closed quarters. There would not be shame in starvation, there would not be shame in fighting to catch your breath- your sexual urges literally are on the same motivational level!
So- shame for masturbation, never. Though a little bit of privacy for yours and everyone else's comfort would be much appreciated.