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May is Masturbation Month. Celebrate! by Shayla Pandava
Masturbation. Shudder at the thought ye innocents. In fact, many schools of thought throughout history have gleefully told us just how evil masturbation is. And most of the ideas have stuck, so that we're almost as ashamed and afraid (not to mention ignorant) of our procreative plumbing as our most superstitious foreparents. One of the big commandments is use your seed only for procreation. Never mind that every male who's ever walked the planet could potentially make enough seed in the course of his lifetime to overpopulate the species to extinction. Seems like the concept of waste was built into the process.

Since May is Masturbation Month, you may be hearing a bit of buzz about the art and its battered history through Puritanism. Toys in Babeland for example, in their historical overview reminds us that Mr. Kellogg invented cornflakes as a sort of anti-Viagra to curb the vile practice of masturbation. Kellog was seriously anti-self-love. If the flakes didn't take, his fallback plan was to circumcise the meat beater without an anesthetic. Oh, the nineteenth century. You gotta love it. Straight jackets, spike-filled penile sheaths, chastity belts -- all the human ingenuity that went into "curing" a poor "diseased" wanker. And they had good common sense to back them up. Dr. Susan Block recently cited some of the notions these people had about masturbation -- that it causes "warts, blindness, insanity, and hair on the palms," -- oh, and damnation. Lucky for us, ingenuity has moved on to i-pods and satellite phones (well, unless you count the evil geniuses at fuckingmachines.com).

In her latest book, Orgasms for Two, Betty Dodson (the "oversexed grandmother" of masturbation) mentions that one girl she spoke to about masturbation thought that too much orgasmic pleasure might lead to heart attack. Alas, masturbation's bad rep lives on.

As you read this and reminisce about things you've been told yourself about masturbation, you can probably come up with a long list of tribulations that might befall you if you masturbate. "It'll fall off." Heard that one? Or how about, "anyone who has to masturbate is a loser"? Pervert? Oversexed? Obsessed? ...

Well, damn it, it's Masturbation Month and you can throw all that anti-data into the shredder and get a grip on yourself. We're going to party, slap-happy style.

Masturbation Month was initially started by the owners of the San Francisco sex toy store Good Vibrations in response to all the flak Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders took for daring to mention that masturbation was a healthy thing (she lasted about 15 months). And now, here we are, in the ninth annual Masturbation Month, and sex enthusiasts and purveyors across the nation are celebrating by sponsoring special events, discounts, guest speakers, you name it. If you've got a really happening toy store nearby, you may even have a Masturbate-a-thon going in your neighborhood. Dark Lady in Portland is sponsoring a huge '50s themed Masturbate-a-thon bash on May 22. New York City's Toys in Babeland store takes its Masturbate-a-thon national with the film crew of HBO's Real Sex. The Real Sex folk'll be in the store May 16, from 3 - 9 p.m. to "see how they come."

Unlike the Toys in Babeland production, the "hard work" of most masturbate-a-thons is done in private and you're on the honor system to report how many whacks or minutes or hours you put in. Like a walk-a-thon (except your fingers do the walking) you collect sponsors, use an official entry form, and get sponsors to pay up as soon as you record just how much of a wanker you are. Since there is yet no national Masturbate-a-thon committee, details vary from one sponsoring organization to another, including the charities that will benefit from the event.

But you don't have to put it on paper to celebrate Masturbation Month. Rev up your favorite toy or seize your favorite joy stick and let er rip.

Why? Because after hundreds of years of bad press, masturbation, we now know, is good for you. Let us count the ways:

It's a learning experience. If you do it slow and take mental notes, you'll learn more about your sexual responses. Some women learn how to achieve orgasm through masturbation (the better for future lovers).

It's healthy. Can you say cardiovascular workout? Also, recent studies connect ejaculation with lower rates of prostate cancer. And women's orgasm aids in healthy vaginal pH balance -- fewer yeast infections. Orgasm has been connected to better bladder control and weight loss, and the production of various hormones during sex can stimulate nurturing responses, improve mood disorders, reduce risk of heart disease. All these benefits come free with every masturbation session. In Eastern thinking, orgasm stimulates the flow of sexual energy; better flow equals more inner balance and better health. And doing it without a partner reduces the risk of infections that come with close contact (especially in the case of multiple partners).

It makes your partner-sex better. You keep blood flowing into the area which strengthens the plumbing. You also exercise your PC muscles -- stronger PCs, better orgasms. Then you can teach your lover all you discover.

Masturbation aids relaxation. It releases endorphins -- think runner's high. But it's also a way to take you out of your head and into your body. Your body can often uncomplicate what the mind spends all day complicating.

Plus it's pure pleasure, and what's wrong with pleasure already?

It's a gesture of self-acceptance. Nurturing starts at home. So do love and sex appeal. It is easier to attract love, when you are able to give it without guilt, shame, or self-consciousness. Love your body and others will love it too.

And finally, masturbation is an inexpensive date, no strings attached, no head games, and it knows just how you like it.

So go for it.

[Next week, we'll talk about the tricks and the toys (yes, there are toys for men!) that will help fill out your celebration of Masturbation Month.]
More May Masturbation by Shayla Pandava
[This is the second part of an article on Masturbation Month. Last week we discussed how Masturbation Month got started and why masturbation is so-o-o-o good for you. You can read all that in our archives by clicking on the link below. But here's even more about America's favorite pastime:]

So this week, for Masturbation Month, we should probably celebrate all the ingenuity that has gone into masturbation over the years. Even during the nineteenth century, as they were applying all kinds of nasty implements to men to keep them from masturbation, the sexual ignorance of the times gave women a kind of special bonus. People didn't think women had orgasms like men did, so naturally they weren't as worried about women "doing the deed."

In fact, as your masturbation handbook will tell you, in the late nineteenth century, it was thought that women with a certain condition -- they called it hysteria (it could have been anything from sexual frustration to depression to PMS) -- were actually in need of some kind of genital "relief." A woman's horniness was a medical condition. Oh glory! And so women slogged into and out of doctors' offices for the treatment: a quick hand job or masturbation by vibrator. Imagine, once upon a time a lady would take a trip to the doctor's and come home with a Cheshire grin on her face. Meanwhile many doctors considered the procedure quite routine, tedious even (he, he). Orgasm under the guise of "treatment" and "labor" -- quite ingenious. Such a dutiful doctor would perfunctorily pull down the lady's drawers, slide his hand and his electrical vibrating implement up the lady's dress until he reached her quim, spread her labia, stimulate her clitoris, and wait for the fireworks. That thrashing, moaning relief, he figured, meant he had purged her of whatever "tension" had gathered in her genitalia (uh, yuh). And the woman was free to go, a functional, less high-strung lady than the shrill wreck who had entered his office. True humanitarianism.

So the vibrator was invented as a medical device, a tension release valve. Good Vibrations, the San Francisco Vibrator store that started all this Masturbation Month stuff, has a vibrator museum containing many of these old vibrator dinosaurs (most look like hand-held blow dryers with the odd automotive alternator thrown in). We can imagine that the medical procedure offering women relief from this hysterical build-up was certainly a cash cow for many a doctor's practice. Duty has its recompense, they must have said.

From the late 1800s through the first couple of decades of the twentieth century, vibrators were advertised in mainstream women's magazines as carriers of "relief" or "youth" -- that would be around the time that Coke contained cocaine -- for a repressed era their wills had clever ways. But as Coke was approaching its last bottle of the cocaine-inclusive formula (1929), erotic films were showing just how nasty the vibrator could be, and it was all over, baby, for the mail order vibrator until the 1960s.

These days, however, the happy masturbator has piles of toys to use in addition to the five bare sisters (which in the middle of a hurricane or battery shortage will always be there for you). They don’t even have to be bare fingers because we have finger rubbers. And there are toys for men and women. There are toys for every orifice.

If you're part of a couple, let's count the his-and-her possibilities. The small lipstick vibrator that women often carry in their overnight bags, suits the clitoral orgasm nicely. But it can also be used on the male gonads: balls, penis shaft, head, base, for a great penile buzz. While one person's doing mouth work, the other can be performing hand work and then trade off.

In the larger department, the hand-held vibrators that look like shoe polishers often come with several attachments that may include quite a variety. A massager with jellied fingers or a simple ball for her, and for him a "come cup" that can massage the head of his penis into a frenzy.

Like the rather well-known Magic Wand, larger vibrators may come with vibrating attachments the size of tennis balls. Yes, if a lady likes intense stimulation on her clit, this toy will get the job done. But its real advantage comes from INdirect stimulation. Since part of the clitoris, the female G-spot, and the male prostate are internal, this type of toy can provide a many-pronged assault because it can stimulate lots of internal parts simultaneously and cause a kind of internal ripple effect. Whether you're male or female, give it a few minutes between your thighs, or better yet on your pubic bone, just to warm the cockles of your parts. Base of penis…outer labia…experiment with everything from thighs to pubes, and see how she tingles.

Now when you're going solo -- as you may find yourself compelled to do in the interest of duly honoring Masturbation Month -- there are some really nice specialized toys for men and women. For women, it's probably the rabbit. Though the names may vary from retailer to retailer (there's usually something about a rabbit in the name) most toy retailers carry one. It has insertable vibrating penile object (that hopefully stimulates the G-spot), then in its middle it has beads or pearls that will vibrate around the vaginal opening, and finally, the "rabbit ears" are a tongue-like protuberance from the shaft that is designed to stimulate the clit. Three stimuli at once. These rabbit devices are notorious for causing sensational and repeated orgasms.

And for men, it's the masturbation sleeve, the pocket pussy, the vaginal (often accompanied by anal) simulator. The difference between the sleeve and the sim is best looked at this way: the sleeve is something you hand-hold and jerk and the sim is something you anchor and fuck.

Simulators (we're often told) are molded from the pussies of porn stars. Chasey Lain or Briana Banks, for example. Some of these sim cunts do look real enough to fuck, with their sweet inner labia, colorful vulva, and shaved or manicured bush. (At the far other extreme, some are so cheesy or hideous they could drive you to pee rather than penetrate.)

With good materials and a lot of gooey water-based lube, the sensation of sliding in can also be quite realistic. (Keep a towel handy for when your gripping hand becomes a slipping hand). In terms of materials, silicone is the best for creating that fleshy feeling, but it's also the most expensive. The makers of RealDoll (a fuckable $6000 investment whose all three orifices are designed for dick) use silicone in their life-like doll vaginas and the experience is highly touted. (RealDoll's meaty, squeezable tits ain't bad either.)

Latex and rubber, on the other hand, can be hit or miss. As for the many other "specially patented" materials with the futuristic names, it's anyone's guess -- unless you have an unbiased expert you can ask. It would help if you could feel and touch the materials first, but often that's not possible. When shopping online, do a lot of comparison shopping to get an idea of market values. Combine your research with the "you get what you pay for" rule of thumb and you should be OK.

More often than not, these masturbators, from the sleeve to the simulated vagina, seem very tight -- in the sense of difficult to enter -- to begin with. Yet most men of average size who are determined to penetrate will get there. A lot of lube, a bit of practice and some experimentation will help develop familiarity with the toy and techniques for getting inside her. But as in real life, once the penis breaks through the hole, it's usually "let the good feelings begin." And then you can get fancy, a sleeve designed to take on a vibrator that slides in near the opening(s). The vibrating sleeve gives a guy quite a joy ride. So be persistent with your new toy.

This is just the beginning of the path through the wonderful world of self-pleasuring toys. As any brief online search will tell you, there's no end to the toys you can find uses for -- solo or with partner. And since May is Masturbation Month, solo's a fine place to start on the path through the wanky wonders. So get pumping, diddling, or humping and enjoy.

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