I derive quite a lot of joy by identifying things that, unlike the rest of the world, are relatively black and white. Cats are always unambiguously cute, Sweden is an unambiguously awesome country, Big Brother makes for unambiguously shit television, I could go on.
I was musing on this the other day, and trying to work out whether or not there was such a thing as an unambiguously fabulous activity – one that is not only so enjoyable that you often cannot wait for the work day to end solely because you will then be able to engage in it, but also incredibly good for your health. Stress reducing, gets the blood pumping, can be done at your own pace, and with little chance of injury*. Something that you can engage in with other people, but can be enjoyed just as if not more readily by yourself.
So, let’s talk a bit about masturbation, shall we?
I read something (sorry it’s that horrible Ashley Madison site) that I found a bit alarming the other day. Apparently only about 92% of women have something akin to a regular wanking schedule. That doesn’t seem right to me. I am perfectly aware that there are some people who genuinely don’t enjoy or just aren’t interested in going to town on themselves for a myriad of reasons. and that’s cool. I can get on board with that. But considering how the reason why any of us are on this planet is because sex has been had and enjoyed by living creatures for billions of years, I find it hard to believe that 8% of the current female population simply do not want to purposely make themselves feel the very basic biological sensation that has been the key to reproduction for all this time. It’s a little bit like being told that 8% of the population don’t sleep.
No, my suspicion is that a lot of women don’t jerk off because of a certain embarrassment towards it. Far less so now than in the past, when women were even more supposed to be seen and not heard (especially when what might be heard is a woman in the throes of ecstasy without the help of her husband), but it’s still there all the same. Why else does the simple act of going into a sex shop or adult book store or whatever still reduce many a young person into fits of giggles, or give a lot of us a slight thrill over how “naughty” we’re being? Why else do most of us who do do it, do it behind closed doors, as silently as we can, and hide our vibrators in our underwear drawers when we’re not using them?
So embarrassment is, I would say, definitely there and not going completely away any time soon. That isn’t the interesting question though. Nor is the interesting question why it is there. That has to do with the influence of the teachings of certain monotheistic religions on societies like ours. These teachings emphasised the importance of denying pleasure (in many of its forms, not just the sexual variety), and the idea that denying yourself pleasure makes you virtuous while giving in to pleasure makes you tainted and weak. Whether teachings this extreme are still being taught, or we call ourselves religious or not, these teachings are still embedded in our culture, hence why many of us declare ourselves “naughty” or “bad” when we eat a slice of cake. Societies that were not influenced by these teachings do not attach morality to their pleasure to the same extent, as a casual walk in broad daylight through the many streets of adult manga book stores in Japan aptly proves.
The interesting question here, in my opinion, is what should be done about this. And I do believe something should be done. Sexual pleasure is one of life’s great wonders – something that needs to be explored unabashedly and without hesitation, so that people can figure out what they like, what attracts them, and what they find enjoyable**. And that, I think, needs to start with those of us who care about this issue being more upfront about it.
What do you guys think?
*although I guess there’s as much chance of injury as you want there to be. ;)
**if anything. I would also urge the importance of remembering that some people, for whatever reason, do not experience sexual pleasure. But I believe that, just like many of us deserve to not be ashamed of feeling sexual pleasure, such people deserve to not be ashamed, or unfairly judged, or criticised, for NOT feeling sexual pleasure. As I often find myself saying on here of late, that might well be a topic for another blog post.