May is International Masturbation Month! An entire month dedicated to the natural, healthy and pleasurable act of masturbating, jerking off, choking the chicken, flicking the bean, spanking the monkey, doing the five knuckle shuffle. I am realizing as I write this that the majority of slang terms for masturbation refer to stroking a penis, interesting.
The celebration of May as Masturbation Month began in 1995 in response to the forced resignation of U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders. Elders answered a question about masturbation saying it was a part of human sexuality and should perhaps be part of the sex education curriculum for students, which of course sparked controversy. The sex-positive retailer, Good Vibrations in San Francisco created masturbation month as a way to honour Elders and celebrate the act of masturbation – and probably sell vibrators.
Masturbation should be taught as part of the sex education curriculum as it is a healthy, safe and enjoyable hobby we can all enjoy. It allows us to get to know our bodies and what our bodies find pleasurable. Children and teens alike still think masturbating could cause them physical harm. Many parents have questions about whether or not it is healthy and normal for their child to masturbate. Of course it is! Kids do it because it feels good.
Masturbation has many benefits beyond feeling good. It helps people fall asleep, it helps people wake up, it can be relaxing and stress relieving as well as help alleviate menstrual cramps and insomnia. It can help people learn how to orgasm, it can bring sexual release to people without a partner or enhance the sex lives of those who do have sex with others.
You can simply stroke or rub your vulva, vagina, clit, breast, nipple, penis or scrotum. Some people use sex toys such as vibrators, dildos, butt plugs and anal beads, and, to get one more myth out of the way, using a vibrator does not harm your ability to orgasm without one. Some people masturbate to porn, others use fantasy alone. The sky is the limit if you have a good imagination.
Masturbation bonus: there is no risk of pregnancy, contracting an STI or the hassle of a relationship. You don’t have to worry about what you look like or what you smell like or if you just ate beans, because the only person you have to impress is you. That said, keep it considerate, readers, there is a time and place for masturbation. You should not masturbate in public – this is illegal. There are of course people that do not masturbate, and this is ok. I only hope that they have made an educated decision for themselves not to masturbate and have not been pressured by society, culture or religion to make this decision.
Even though the month of May is a tribute to masturbation, I encourage you to celebrate your sexuality, your orgasms and your body, all year long. I saw a sign that said, “find what makes you happy and do it.” I suggest you apply this to masturbation.
Stacey Jacobs has been a Sex Educator for almost 2 decades. For 13 of those years she worked as a Sexual Health Educator at Planned Parenthood. She teaches in the Sexuality, Marriage and Family Studies Program at the University of Waterloo and when not educating, she enjoys reading, walking her dogs and eating good food. The life of a Sex Educator is usually not as interesting as people assume.