I summarize diverse views and research results about masturbation and look at the history of masturbation month and sexual education.
May has almost passed and with it the month of masturbation. While I’m usually not very fond of pseudo-holidays created by companies to sell stuff (in this example a sex toy company), I don’t think it’s a bad idea to ‘celebrate’ masturbation. Sadly, some people still consider masturbation something bad, although science pretty clearly says that masturbation won’t cause blindness, ADHD or erectile dysfunction. Quite the contrary, it can minimize stress and is a healthy and normal behaviour (sources below).
However, there will always be people who won’t believe what is common sense and start spreading dangerous rumors. I am talking about the infamous NoFap community. This semi-cult supposedly started as a joke between a couple of male friends who challenged each other not to jerk off after reading a study claiming that testosterone in males may increase after refraining from masturbation.
I must admit that I didn’t read the according paper (I didn’t find it) but I do believe that a good balance of masturbation and your regular life is necessary (Of course! We can’t stay teenagers spending a whole day finding every possible way to get off!). I guess you could call this the Masturbation-Work-Life Balance. Nevertheless, I don’t believe that you can expect negative consequences from jacking off regularly.
NoFap supporters however claim that not ‘fapping’ will lead to ‘dramatic increases in social confidence, energy, concentration, mental acuity, motivation, self-esteem, emotional stability, happiness, sexual prowess, and attractiveness to the opposite sex’.
What I haven’t mentioned yet is that NoFap describes itself as a comprehensive sexual health platform which will help you quit porn – among other things. And that is the key point. I believe that the positive results described by NoFap come from people dealing with a porn addiction, not from quitting masturbation. (As a side note, here is an interesting article covering how high libido might be linked to regular use of porn: Click!)
So, does this give NoFap the right to claim that it can help everyone as masturbation is detrimental for you? Or does NoFap simply align itself with religious institutions promoting obsolete believes? If masturbation were bad for body and mind, wouldn’t scientists have found out about this by now?
NoFap is not the first, just the latest group of Masturbators Anonymous. Besides the usual suspects one specifically absurd example is John Harvey Kellogg, the creator of Kellogg’s corn flakes. He was a firm believer in celibacy and allegedly never had sex in his life. To spoil everyone else’s enjoyment, he wanted to create a food that was so basic, boring and with less flavor and sugar (than other processed foods) that it would drain your sexual energy. And what a success it was! The cornflakes, I mean. Sex and masturbation of course, are not going anywhere.
‘Masturbation month’ may sound like a joke but I don’t think it is. It stands for more than you may think as it was created in honor of Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders who was fired by president Bill Clinton in 1994 after speaking out about schools in deep need of sex education covering a variety of topics. Her most controversial statement was that ‘(…) masturbation 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.’ And that, my friends, is a message worth a fake holiday.
Title photo: Painting by Giorgione