Happy International Masturbation Month!
May is International Masturbation Month, celebrating all forms of sexual self-gratification. It all started 25 years ago when the founders of the San Francisco-based sex shop “Good Vibrations” established the holiday in 1995 following the forced resignation of the U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders. Surgeon General Elders had given a now-infamous speech at the UN World AIDS Day in 1994. Following an audience member’s question regarding the presumed negative effect of masturbation on sex drive, Surgeon General Elders asserted her belief that masturbation should be considered an essential educational component when it comes to human sexuality. The ultimate goal of Good Vibrations was to eliminate the stigma of masturbation as the founders felt the majority of individuals, whether they publicly admitted it or not, engaged in masturbation and wanted to create a socio-cultural environment where the subject of masturbation is no longer stigmatized.
So, to tie in with our #MythMonday series…
One of the biggest myths surrounding masturbation that remains in our society today is that only single and desperate people masturbate. In reality, masturbation is a completely normal and healthy part of an individual’s sexual experience, regardless of their relationship status, sexual or gender identity. Many people in relationships find pleasure in both self-masturbation and mutual masturbation, which incorporates both self-gratification in front of your partner(s) or manually pleasuring a partner while they reciprocate the action on you. It is important to remember masturbation in no way discredits any sexual gratification that can be provided by partners nor is an indication of “abnormal” sexual tendencies of an individual. It is a natural aspect of self-pleasure that many individuals choose to partake in.
Masturbation cannot only be fun, but it can also improve your overall health! Mentally, masturbation has been linked to reducing stress levels and boosting your mood. It can also relieve pain from menstrual cramps, increase immune functioning and even reduce the risk of getting prostate cancer.
Now go forth and celebrate…but only if that’s what you’re into! Make sure to wash your hands (and toys!) well before and after!
Written in collaboration with our volunteer Rachel Saunders.