Are you celebrating National Masturbation Month?

Did you know that May is National Masturbation Month? I had no idea until today and wondered why this is not better known. Hugo Schwyzer partially answers this question in an article in which he says that this because of a remarkable prudishness about one of the most common sex acts, one that is central to the culture wars.

Masturbation is almost certainly the most common human sexual practice. Though statistics about private sexual behavior vary widely, there’s little dispute that the vast majority of both men and women will masturbate over the course of their lifetimes. Perhaps nothing so universal is discussed with greater embarrassment (or denied with greater frequency).

The view of masturbation as benign and beneficial is a new one. The Judeo-Christian tradition has long been hostile towards self-pleasure, at least for men. The Talmud compares spilling seed to spilling blood; the Zohar (the central work of Kabbalah) calls it the most evil act a man can commit. The traditional Christian view was no more tolerant; Catholic and Protestant authorities framed masturbation as a deeply sinful (though forgivable) waste of precious semen. Women were left out of these prohibitions for the obvious reason that most male religious authorities didn’t consider the possibility that women were capable of or interested in giving themselves orgasms.

Many progressives were bewildered by Antonin Scalia’s blistering 2003 dissent in Lawrence v Texas, in which he warned that state laws against evils such as “adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, and bestiality” might be invalidated as a result of the decision. Why, liberals wondered, was masturbation included on that list? The answer is simple: masturbation remains not only a grave sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church to which Scalia belongs, but its acceptance as benign and healthy is perhaps the foundational error of modern sexual culture.

As religious conservatives see it, the great mistake we make when we masturbate is to claim our sexuality as ours alone.

Contemporary liberal sexual ethics of the kind that Easton and Hardy espouse grow out of that same feminist insistence on autonomy that so terrified religious leaders and Victorian physicians alike.

It is an interesting article that explores the history of the taboos that exist around this practice and how they are changing.

Note that you have only one week left.


  1. says

    I believe that in the 18th century there was a genre of literature known as “books you read with one hand”.

  2. smrnda says

    Accepting masturbation as morally neutral or beneficial represents a triumph of utilitarian morality over traditional moralities concerned with sanctity, purity, and other such nonsense, which is why its acceptance scares regressives so much. Once people realize that a behavior that doesn’t harm anybody can’t possibly be wrong, they decide to ditch all the other pointless rules they’ve been expected to follow which have no real purpose. Regressive, puritanical morality is built on shame and guilt and fear, and once people cease feeling the shame and guilt then they’re likely to break free from all the stupid rules and beliefs.

  3. a fan says

    Hugo Schwyzer is a professor that has admitted to sleeping with his students, including 4 students he had been given responsibility for chaperoning.

    He has admitted to fathering a child that he didn’t support knowing that another man, lied to and deceived and paternity, would pay the bills: why? Because Hugo said he felt the other man would be a better father.

    Hugo has in the past admitted to attempting to kill his girlfriend.

    National Masturbation Month? EACH AND EVERY HUGO posting is an exercise in his own intellectual masturbation.

    What can Hugo possibly have to tell anyone apart from what his sociopathic and narcissistic behaviors have rewarded him with at the expense of others.


  4. Mano Singham says

    Really? I had never heard of him before. I don’t usually research the background of authors of articles, preferring to judge the merits of the work on its own. He sounds like a real piece of work, though.

  5. Corvus illustris says

    Back in the 20th century there were theories explaining why the command-line prompt was superseded by the mouse …

  6. a fan says

    He is a real piece of work. (Because when comrade physioprof and I agree, something signifcant has happened!) Other professors at other blogs (lawyers guns and money if I recall correctly) have said similar.

    The only thing interesting about Schwyzer is this:

    1 So called Evil MRAs called him out for misogyny and misandry years and years ago.

    2 But because he white knights for feminism and eagerly places blame on all men, he has been protected by and thrived in contemporary feminist circles. That protection lasted ONLY up until he admitted to trying to kill his girlfriend.

    3) His egregious behaviors are defended by feminists that would claim to judge Hugo is somehow sex negative, or something only an MRA would do because MRAs are jealous (these are all actual arguments)

    His basic pattern as I have perceived it is this:

    Hugo, a sociopath, does something that few people would do. Something terrible and egregious to other people. For example, he preys on young women, he cuckolds a man, he tries to kill a women. He writes about that, but instead of taking personal responsibility for his horrible behaviors, he places the blame on “Patriarchy” and on all men. He wasn’t bad. Patriarchy is bad. He is not a rapist, all men are rapists.

    Much of the time this blaming of all men behavior has resulted in success in feminist circles eager to her his message and use it against detractors.

    Up until a year ago when a feminist finally put 2 + 2 together.

    But still, he is printed at Jezebel, and at The Atlantic, and wow, just goes to show how lazy and bereft of common sense many journalistic and feminist sites are.

    Anyway, that’s Hugo Schwyzer, tenured professor at PCC in LA.

  7. JJH says

    Masturbation: Sex with someone I love and have an irrevocable lifetime commitment to. How could even the staunchest prude object to that?

  8. bad Jim says

    It’s funny. I used to consume paperback fiction voraciously, at the same time drinking and smoking to excess. One evening I noticed that I was holding the book in my left hand, keeping it open with the forefinger and turning the pages with the tip of the middle finger – highly efficient and a skill I had developed unconsciously.

    Long ago, in Berkeley, a roommate exclaimed, “Someone came in this book!” I looked over – it was a book about incest – and said something like “No kidding.” She then showed me that it had a perfectly circular white stain on the page. I guessed that someone had set a drink upon it.

  9. bad Jim says

    Woody Allen (from memory):

    I remember the first time I had sex. I was scared. It was dark. I was alone.

  10. Corvus illustris says

    Anyway, that’s Hugo Schwyzer, tenured professor at PCC in LA.

    This is kinda surprising, since there are things that can get your letter of appointment fed into the shredder, tenured or not–or will at least get you “encouraged to take early retirement” (as happened to a guy in the anthro department of my old shop–his relations with grad students were called into question). Schwyzer seems to be sailing awfully close to the proverbial wind.

    BTW, Pasadena CC is (logically enough) in Pasadena rather than LA city or county, a fact that may make a difference in the composition and attitude of the governing body.

  11. left0ver1under says

    I can’t find a link to it, but there was a study done in Australia about a decade ago on those who had been charged with sex offenses against children. The largest number of people were in the religious business. There were no pedophiles who worked in pornography or as sex workers.

    This list of sex offenders appeared during my search, and it matches the survey I mentioned. I searched the list, and there are plenty of priests, pastors, and employees of churches on the list. There are (my searches may not be thorough) no people who work in the sex industry.

    My point? I’d be willing to bet that those who get off regularly, who have a healthy attitude towards masturbation are less likely to commit sex offenses, while those who don’t service themselves are more likely to be pent up and eventually assault someone. I have to wonder why/if masturbation isn’t encouraged for sex offenders, and whether it should be to prevent recidivism.

  12. allan says

    See “Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality” Darrel Ray. In a talk he did on Youtube he comments on how you’re supposed to give up masturbation when you get married. “I did”, he says, “for 3 days!”.


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