Application of the Critical Theory

"Masturbation fundamentally healthy practice, not sinful"

By Evan Majors

"Starting as young as infancy, we undergo a process of self-discovery as natural as birth itself, only to learn that the physical expression of masturbation is wrong. In a society drenched in sex, perhaps the most personally relevant aspect of our own sexuality is considered a mortal sin." - Clarence Lloyd

Everyone has heard the myths about masturbation. Those who do it will go blind, their palms will grow large amounts of hair, it will make them go insane, and the biggest myth of all: masturbation is a sinful and selfish act.

During childhood most people were told masturbation was harmful not only to their bodies but their minds.

In many households, masturbation was never a subject that even came up in conversations about sex. Masturbation is like the forbidden fruit: don't look and don't touch, and definitely don't take a bite.

I remember coming into sexual discovery with myself when I was 15 years old. I remember "playing with myself," and wondering why it felt so enjoyable. I had created a tremendous amount of pleasure for myself; it suddenly became my new hobby. My neighborhood friends began having to make daily appointments to see me because I rarely exited my masturbatory sanctuary. But despite this newfound practice, I was soon confronted with the aftereffects of my gratifying actions, which would last for years. That effect was tremendous guilt.

According to author W.R. Miller, in "Sex Knowledge and Attitude Test," 97 percent of males and 78 percent of females masturbate. So why is everyone still so afraid to admit it? For centuries Western culture has discussed sex as a negative act.

Most Americans were taught sex is something to be discussed and performed in private. Sex for most is something they don't discuss at the dinner table, at least in the presence of parents or other elders, nor is to be discussed in the classroom, and rarely is it given a public forum. Censorship is often the answer of the "free press" when sexual matters enter the forum.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn M. Elders was fired from her post because she told kids masturbation was a healthy way to explore their bodies and sexual feelings. She told children to practice masturbation not only as a form of safe sex, but as a way to understand their bodies and how they function. The president himself couldn't even support Elders remarks on masturbation, and she was fired.

Hard-core Christians have major problems discussing the practice of masturbation. In the Bible, the statement on masturbation is incorrectly attributed to the Genesis 38:9 account of Onan. After Onan's brother died, he was instructed to impregnate his sister-in-law to prevent her from remaining childless. Onan complied, but ejaculated on the ground. Onan never masturbated, but his act of "wasting" sperm is considered by fundamentalists to be a form of masturbation. Moreover, there are no other passages in the Bible that imply or state that masturbation is wrong.

It is no surprise many so-called educators in America still have problems discussing any sex besides heterosexual sex. That includes issues of homosexuality, bisexuality, masturbation and even the distribution of condoms in school. America has a long history of shutting its doors to mislabeled taboos and issues that might make people uncomfortable.

In a time of AIDS, high rates of teen-age pregnancy and the growing number of individuals who are contracting infectious sexual diseases, it seems only natural to talk about masturbation as an alternative. Future generations of kids need to be aware of all options in regard to sex. Parents and educators cannot shield kids from what they will eventually discover on their own.

Masturbation is healthy and loads of fun! Practicing masturbation can relieve tension after a stressful day. It can be a temporary cure for loneliness on a Friday night. It is safe, and it is a way to find out what makes us feel good. For men it is also helpful in developing ejaculatory control and in dealing with erection problems.

We are all sexual beings. Sexual stimulation - just like food - is a necessity, and both can be very addictive. If masturbation is a sin, then those same Christians who define morality need to check themselves.

It wasn't a moral act to take native Africans from their homelands, keep them in bondage, separate them from their families and exploit them under the name of Christianity. If masturbation is a sinful, selfish act then I charge Christians with the following: rape, premeditated murder, racketeering, embezzlement and robbery. Guilty as charged.

Despite the rhetoric, masturbation is a healthy way to explore our bodies and discover on our own, or with a partner, in privacy what satisfies our sexual cravings. Let's make healthy decisions regarding our bodies, not decisions based on falsehoods, ignorance and fear.

Evan Majors is a Opinion Columnist at WMU Herald. This article was published in the Herald on October 8, 1997.