India is a land of more taboos and less knowledge, especially when it comes to knowledge related to sex. That is why, before I even begin writing this article, I would like to put forth a disclaimer. The article revolves around the sexual activity called masturbation. Although many of the readers might have already assumed this to be a dirty one, I would like to clarify that it will be in no manner obscene or vulgar.
The term masturbation refers the act of stimulating one’s genitals for sexual arousal or pleasure, usually to the point of orgasm.
Even though the term masturbation is not as old, the concept, however, can be traced back to the eighteenth century and earlier. There have been depictions of male and female masturbation in the paintings in the prehistoric era. Even though the origination of the concept is unknown, the concept of masturbation was familiar to the Sumerian residents, along with the residents of ancient Egypt and Greek, without the taboos. The pieces of evidence for the same can be traced from the prehistoric paintings and artwork, not only in the West but also in India. The temple reliefs in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh have sculptures and artworks portraying the same. The more forward we moved in time, the more backward our mentality tended to be.
However, with the passage of time, masturbation became synonymous with terms like self-pollution and abomination. People strongly revolted this view and many came forward supporting the same, yet the stigma still prevails. The more the knowledge related to the concept grew among people, the more hateful it turned out to be.
Considered as a sin and a heinous crime among many religions, many rumors came to be flown amidst the air of revolution.
- It is related to mental illness:
Contrary to a common myth, that masturbation can cause an individual to go insane, it is, in fact, a biological activity only, and can only benefit your mental health. For masturbation is known to have reduced stress, help you sleep better and improve your self-esteem and body image. Therefore, there is certainly no harm that masturbation will or can do to your mental health.
- Women don’t masturbate
Women are as sexual beings as men, which implies the possibility of them having sexual desires as well. Hence, women do masturbate. Only they are not much vocal about it due to the stigma attached to it. Studies revealed that although men masturbate more frequently than women do, about 58% of women admitted masturbating regularly.
- Masturbating while you are in a relationship is immoral:
It has been noted that people who masturbate while in a relationship are often judged and inferred to be sexually dissatisfied with their partner. However, it is completely normal to masturbate irrespective of whether one is in a relationship or not. It is through masturbation that people embrace their own sexuality and become more aware of it, and conveying it to their partner can result in a healthier sex life. Being in a relationship does not, therefore, imply that masturbation is wrong.
- It is biologically harmful to an individual
It has been believed that masturbating can cause biological disorders like prostate cancer (in men) or cause the genitals to shrink. Many people also believe that masturbation frequently can sexually use you up and reduce your potency. While all of it is nothing but a mere lie, excessive masturbation, which deviates one from following the normal routine of work, catching up with friends, etc. can cause one to seek a therapist, as that can sure be harmful.
- There is no one who doesn’t masturbate:
A common belief that everybody masturbates but no one admits it, is, in fact, a lie. Just the way there exist people who masturbate to satisfy themselves sexually, there also exist people who don’t, which is just as normal. If for instance, there are 98% people who masturbate, there also exist that 2 % who don't. The point here is that masturbation is not that big of a deal that should be stigmatized to an extent that people are afraid to be vocal about it.
To combat the myths, we do have some interesting facts about masturbation that will amuse you:
- 28 May is celebrated as National Masturbation Day to celebrate the and protect the right to masturbate. The celebration now has been expanded throughout the month, and May is now known as the month of masturbation.
- Countries like the U.K. encourage their teenage population to masturbate to prevent their youth from engaging in risky sexual behaviors and STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases).
- Animals like squirrels, walruses, and even apes have been found to masturbate. So, whoever says it’s not that common, is probably, unaware?
- In 1897, Mark Twain gave a lecture in Paris criticising anyone who thought that masturbation was bad, in a comic way. He satirically ridiculed those who supported the anti-masturbation movement prevalent at that time.
“Of all the various kinds of sexual intercourse, this has the least to recommend it. As an amusement it is too fleeting; as an occupation it is too wearing; as a public exhibition there is no money in it. It is unsuited to the drawing room, and in the most cultured society it has long since been banished from the social board…"
- About 1000 people strangle themselves to death while masturbating due to the act of autoerotic asphyxiation. Asphyxiation occurs when the supply of oxygen to the brain is cut down. There is a euphoric high that people feel just before they are about to die. To experience this ‘high’, people have known to strangle themselves in order to take their sexual pleasure to another level, leading to deaths.
There have been instances of people feeling guilty after they masturbate. While these feelings are generally associated with the stigma attached, some people attach these emotions with morality in the religious context, and many because they had been told during their childhood that it was wrong. According to a survey, people admit that even though they enjoy the pleasure that they receive after masturbating, the feelings of guilt overpower their pleasure.
It is important to know that masturbation isn’t bad, nor is it unhealthy. People of all ages and sexual orientation masturbate. Yes, you read that right. People with asexual orientation masturbate too, although the nature of their masturbation is usually different from that of those who are not asexual. So, there is nothing to feel guilty about at all. Masturbation is said to have reduced stress among individuals and is noted to be extremely beneficial, not only mentally but physically as well.
However, an excess of anything has never made things better. If masturbation interferes in your daily schedule or work, you might need to consult a therapist. While masturbating frequently can do no harm to you, doing it excessively can cause you to have psychological disorders like pedophilia, exhibitionism, fetishes, etc.