What Exactly is Masturbation Month?

Mon, 05/02/2011 - 09:03
Submitted by Anonymous

In late 2010, one of the Planet Waves editors posted to our blog an article she found about the odd relationship options offered by Facebook (for example, the category 'it's complicated' being a stand-in for everything other than something supposedly normal, without saying what). Following that article back to its source, a blog called Onely.org, I discovered the existence of a singles movement.

There is as much questioning of heteronormative conditioning as there is in any queer community. In case you haven't heard that word, it's a keeper: heteronormative -- a concept to contain all the rules and regulations you're supposed to follow in a world oriented primarily on heterosexual relationships, which are considered the norm -- indeed, there's still a compulsory quality. I am always intrigued every time I see a wedding band flashed in a TV commercial, particularly on a man's hand, which is often. No matter what product they're selling, the other product is marriage.

The idea of a singles movement immediately sounded revolutionary because much of the relationship discussion is about what form of long-term committed relationship one chooses (mono or poly, married or living together, gay or straight), rather than questioning the orthodoxy of relationship. Many people have the feeling that if they're not 'in a relationship' they're not normal. Many places having a partner or spouse is the equivalent of fully-vested citizenship. Once you have someone on your arm, you're allowed into society. Meanwhile, if you're not 'in a relationship', what about all your other relationships. Why don't they count? Well, as for what counts, we're almost always talking Relationship with a big R.

Over the years I've been an astrologer, I've worked with, and heard from, many people for whom the relationship game as it's currently set up simply does not work. Who they are does not fit any known model of relationship, and they cannot seem to find partners who match their values. Many of these people are the aware and questioning types, who strive to live consciously. Many of them even want to be in a relationship that suits them, but don't seem to find suitable situations.

So I was happy to find some information and validation that seemed to be skewed in their direction. Exploring other websites in this genre, the discussion I read was often politically astute and a bit indignant. There was a lot of discussion of why married people get such significant tax breaks. And why should the dentist be asking about your marital status? Is that vaguely relevant to getting your teeth cleaned? If they need to notify your next of kin that you have a cavity, they can call your sister.

Out of curiosity, I started typing the word 'masturbation' into search engines on various singles movement sites and getting nothing back (with the exception of one derogatory reference to 'mental masturbation'). I thought this lack of discussion was interesting and more than a bit strange. Here was a movement advocating living freely and being detached from relationship expectations as a vocal choice.

We all know that many people stay in relationships to assure a supply of sex, even if those relationships don't always serve their other growth needs. To be free of these dysfunctional relationships, it would help (in my fantasy world) to have an idea of sexual independence we could aspire to. And one logical starting point for that would be really, truly understanding one's inner sexuality, and doing well with being one's own lover. But the movement advocating how you can be free of these relationships, at least that I could find that evening, had nothing to say about sex with oneself.

The movement advocating being single was the very last place I would have guessed there was a taboo on discussing solo sex. Clearly, if you're single and want to be, that implies that sex with oneself is not a substitute for anything, and also that (assuming you have a sex drive) it's an entirely necessary state of affairs. If being single implied having a low sex drive, Thomas Edison would have never invented the singles bar.

I wrote to the editor of one of these websites, and after a round of emails that went on for a few weeks, she basically told me that they just didn't feel comfortable talking about self-sex. I admit to being a bit naïve, but truly, I was stunned. Okay, just a little stunned. The lack of authentic sexual conversation is normal fare in our culture. In exploring the many reasons why masturbation is still taboo, we must include that as one of them. But I think it goes deeper. It's fair to say that considerable embarrassment surrounds the topic of masturbation. It's private, and most people would rather keep it that way (unless you count their fantasies of getting caught).

It's about to be May, which was officially designated Masturbation Month back in 1995 by the Good Vibrations toy stores in San Francisco. We now have 31 days of cultural sanction for the conversation. Speaking as an astrologer, I've always thought it was appropriate that the time of year when the Sun is in Taurus (the sign of self-value, associated with physical sensuality) was a great time to start the festivities. And by the end of May we have Gemini lighting up the sky, a delightfully kinky sign associated with the 'dual self' phenomenon -- a kind of inner mirror where you can see yourself as any gender you like.

What exactly is Masturbation Month? It's a little like Chrysanthemum Appreciation Week, only it involves masturbation and it lasts a month -- and it's a lot more radical. I don't think Obama signed a proclamation, but we can pretend.

What would the conversation be about? I would propose that masturbation is about a lot more than masturbation -- and that's the reason it's still considered so taboo by many people, and in many places. First, I would say that masturbation holds the key to all sexuality. It's a kind of proto-sexuality, the core of the matter of what it means to be sexual. I mean this in an existential sense. Masturbation is the most elemental form of sexuality, requiring only awareness and a body. Whatever we experience when we go there is what we bring into our sexual encounters with others -- whether we recognize it or not. Many factors contribute to obscuring this simple fact.

However, people who are comfortable with their sexuality in general are likely to be comfortable with masturbation. It also works the other way. If you want to know how someone feels about sex, ask them how they feel about masturbation and you'll get your real answer. Self-sex is a path to self-knowledge, which is essential to mature, healthy relationships. The less mature relationships can be mazes of ignorance and codependency, and often, sexual dependency is a major ingredient in the glue that bonds these encounters together.

This, in my opinion, is why masturbation, and by that I mean conscious self-sex, is so revolutionary. It's a bold way to be who you are, as you are, regardless of any expectations of relationship.

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masturbate for peace....

Mon, 05/02/2011 - 18:13
dolfun (not verified)

Marriage and/or long-term

Tue, 05/03/2011 - 15:46
deera (not verified)

Marriage and/or long-term relationships are not for everyone.  It does seem that most of the websites which claim to support the single lifestyle do not discuss sex.  It is a shame because self-sex could be such a satisfying and pleasurable part of our lives.  I do agree that most men enter into long-term relationships to ensure a consistent sex partner.  Women, I think, enter into long-term relationships for other reasons.  Some of these reasons are: societal and peer pressure; they are emotionally bonded with the other person; a desire for someone to support them (financially or emotionally); or they have some kids they need help with; and lastly, maybe they just need a self-esteem boost.    Women do not usually enter into long-term relationships because of sex.  I think the reason for this is and it has been mentioned frequently on the D&R website, that women do not orgasm from very popular penis/vagina sex.  Women need something besides sex to get them to commit to a long-term relationship. 
I feel that embracing masturbation and everyone achieving orgasms may make the single life more appealing.  It will also reduce the population of our already overwhelmed planet.  I like that these websites support single life, I just wish they would support single sex too.

long term sex

Wed, 05/04/2011 - 15:54
Doug (not verified)

I don't know about men entering into marriage for a long time sex partner since having sex with the same person over and over is boring.  Of course most men are boring so it could be so.   I read a study that men get burned out on sex with the same person after 4,000 times and it takes women 5,000 times.  I think it would be closer to 100 for a man and  a woman that is providing the people involved were sexually sophisticated which would be a long shot but if they are not erotically inclined it doesn't matter anyway.

Eric's post on Masturbation Month

Thu, 05/05/2011 - 01:38
K D Grace (not verified)

I really enjoyed your article on Masturbation Month, and found some of your ideas about masturbation as proto-sexuality fascinating. I just wanted to say thanks and let you know it inspired my own blog post http://kdgrace.co.uk/ and I quoted you in it and mentioned this fabulous site. Thanks again for all you do!
All the best,
K D Grace

This helps promote a healthy practice

Thu, 05/05/2011 - 12:12
DanJ (not verified)

I didn't used to masturbation much.  Although I am fit and fairly young (25) I didn't really have much of a sex drive and to it wasn't really necessary.  Although,  I would always remember how much I loved it and I say to myself I need to do it more.  My ejaculation was always intense and satisfying.  But afterward the feelings faded deep into the woodwork until next time.
Last year I discovered about Masturbation month from you and decided I should at least try for a month. I wanted to do it for my health but also for my pleasure.  I kstarted slow but kept it up for the entire month.  By the end I am proud to admit I was able to sustain twice a day and enjoying it. I could feel my body responding in a positive way and so I decided to keep it up through June for good measure... then July.. I'll end after August... then maybe after September... and so on...
I became quite used to it after months of hard work and have gained so much health and pleasure from it.  My urge comes strong and my cum shoots hard to douce the fire.  I have intercourse more now than masturbate but I noticed that I am slowing down again.  There have been days when I save myself for intercourse but it didn't happen and I went to sleep instead of first attending to my needs.  This May I decided to rededicate myself to focusing on my masturbation again, intercourse or not.
If only others could just try it for a month, I know they would continue on and be greatful.  I'm a masturbator now and I like it.
Thanks Betty

self-sex is a path to self-knowledge

Fri, 05/06/2011 - 08:47
Friendly Stranger (not verified)

This is such an inspiring article. I especially enjoyed your insight on heteronormative conditioning and the orthodoxy of relationships - masturbation is definitely fraught with political implication in the world of sexual advocacy, and it's important to address that. Your comment, "self-sex is a path to self-knowledge" is bang on, and I feel compelled to share -  I commented on and linked to your article on the Hey Foxy Blog .