If you love yourself, play with yourself. Nobody knows you better than yourself. Masturbation has been found to help foster a sense of well-being, boost confidence and body image, reduce stress, and improve sleep. Experiencing more orgasms makes you less susceptible to heart disease and type-2 diabetes. Shared masturbation lets lovers teach each other their preferences in a healthy, no-risk environment. Throughout history, masturbation has been portrayed in many ways. Some consider it healthy, some consider it taboo, others have no word to define it.
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Masturbation in Ancient Civilizations
The earliest records of masturbation came from the Mesopotamian city-state of Sumer, where masturbation was encouraged either solo or with a partner to enhance potency. In Egypt, it was believed that masturbation could be magical, as evidenced by the creation of the universe by the god Atum’s ejaculation. The ebb and flow of the Nile was also associated with the frequency of the deity’s ejaculation and, as a result, at one point it became a requirement of the Pharaoh to ceremoniously masturbate into the Nile.
The Kama Sutra Gives Masturbation Advice
The Kama Sutra, an ancient Indian Hindu text written between 400 BCE and 200CE, is often regarded as the ultimate guide to sex positions. Of the seven-part book, the second part is the most well-known for its ten chapters regarding stimulation of desire, types of embraces, kisses and caresses, sexual positions, information regarding oral sex for both men and women, and more. The text also offers the following masturbation instructions: “Churn your instrument with a lion’s pounce: sit with legs stretched out at right angles to one another, propping yourself up with two hands planted on the ground between in them, and it between your arms.”
Onanism Means Masturbation
The Judeo-Christian view of masturbation as shameful comes from the story of Onan who, after marrying his widowed-sister in-law as per tradition, “wasted his seed on the ground” rather than impregnate her. Since Onan’s role as both man and brother was to ensure the next generation continued through the act of procreation, his masturbation was seen as sinful. “Onanism” later became a popular term for masturbation.
Central African Tribes Have No Word for Masturbation
The Aku and the Ngandu people of the African Congo Basin have no word for masturbation, and they are unfamiliar with the concept once explained. Scientists Barry and Bonnie Hewlett discovered this when studying the sexuality of the two groups. While sex is frequent among couples—on average, men and women report having sex three to four times a night—intercourse is regarded as a type of work to help “look for a child.” In an area with such a high infant mortality rate, reproduction is vital to the tribe’s survival. As a result, masturbation is rare or nonexistent, not because it’s frowned upon, but simply because it’s not part of their culture.
A Winter’s Tale
In the 1610 Shakespearean play A Winter’s Tale, a joke is made by a servant deeming a travelling minstrel’s songs to be “without bawdy”—or comical sexual matters—because he doesn’t understand the word “dildo.” The line reads: “He hath songs for man or woman, of all sizes; no milliner can so fit his customers with gloves: he has the prettiest love-songs for maids; so without bawdry, which is strange; with such delicate burthens (burdens) of dildos and fadings.” However, this isn’t really all that surprising when you consider Shakespeare was well-known among the masses for both his low-brow humor and sexual banter.
Laws Against Masturbation
A 1656 law in New Haven Connecticut stated that those found guilty of masturbating could be given the death penalty. In Indonesia, Article 281 of national law states that the maximum sentence for masturbation is 32 months of imprisonment. In March 2004, a general court in Saudi Arabia sentenced a teacher to three years in prison and 300 lashes for declaring that masturbation was permissible under Islam. In 2009, the supreme court of Alabama outlawed the sale of “any device designed…primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs.”
Victorian Doctor Practices
While Victorian doctors were famously helping women orgasm to cure hysteria (and revolutionizing sex toy tech when their hands got tired) they were also advising all sorts of methods to keep young people and men from masturbating. These practices involved tying their hands to bedposts, putting children in pajamas that only opened in the back, and creating very uncomfortable-looking devices such as a jugum penis, a metal clamp with teeth. It was thought that masturbation would lead to a weakness of character and venereal diseases.
Kelloggs Condemned Masturbation
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg is quoted as saying, “If illicit commerce of the sexes is a heinous sin, self-pollution is a crime doubly abominable.” He ran a sanitarium in the late 1800s where he enforced a strict vegetarian diet, believing meats and spices to excite the libido and, in fact, that is how corn flakes came to be invented. No wonder they taste so bland and unexciting.
El Sartorio was the First Erotic Film
What is commonly believed to be the oldest surviving pornographic film is El Sartorio. Thought to be made in Argentina circa 1907, the film features three women bathing in a river who have sex first with each other and then with the devil. The movie also may feature one of the first extreme close-up shots of genitals.
Celebrities Caught Sticky Handed
In 1991, Paul Reubens, aka Pee-wee Herman, was caught masturbating at an adult theater in Sarasota, Florida. As recently as 2012, Fred Willard was also arrested for a ‘lewd act’ in an adult movie theater, resulting in his dismissal from PBS’s Market Warriors and requiring him to take a sex education diversion program.