Likeness begets such strange self-flattery,
That touching myself, all seems done to thee.
Myself I embrace, and mine own hands I kiss,
And amorously thank myself for this.
Like you, dear readers, I was apparently too busy exploring south of the border to even realize it, but I just found out that May was National Masturbation Month.
It was conceived (oh, the irony) in 1995 by the San Francisco–based sex shop Good Vibrations to protest the treatment of former US surgeon general Joycelyn Elders, who was forced to resign a year earlier when she had the audacity to suggest that masturbation should be taught in sex-ed classes. Now, that political fervor has turned into a month-long jack-fest celebrated nationwide — not that all the furious fist action doesn't occasionally help a good cause. Some places even hold Masturbate-a-thons to raise money for local safe-sex organizations. Categories at this year's San Francisco 'thon, presented by the Center for Sex & Culture, included "Longest Squirt Distance," "Most Orgasms," and, most intriguing, "Tag-Team Fun."
To observe this month of jerk-off joy, we've collected some esoteric orgasm info that we hope will intellectually enhance your solo sex time. (Incidentally, NMM coincides with National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, with Bristol Palin as its "do as I say, not as I do" spokesperson. Does that mean she's going to come out as abstinence champion of the Masturbate-a-thon? We can only hope!)
So, everyone knows that masturbation is totally normal and healthy. (Some have pointed out that, if President Bill Clinton had been a little more masturbation-friendly, he might not have gotten into so much trouble later with a certain stained blue dress.) But did you know that stigmas aside, masturbation is so ordinary that we start doing it before we even come out of the womb? In Mary Roach's Bonk:The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex (W. W. Norton, 2008), she tells readers about in-utero masturbation, apparently observed in a sonogram image by an Israeli doctor who in 1987 sent a letter to the Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine that was accompanied by pictures of a seven-month-old fetus "grasping the penis in a fashion resembling masturbation movements."
Want to beat the masturbation world records? Make sure you've got industrial-size tubes of Astro Glide, and have at it. Duration, male: 9 hours, 58 minutes (Masanobu Sato of Tokyo, Japan); female: 7 hours, 6 minutes (a woman named, uh, what else but Kitty Kat). Number of climaxes, male: 31; female: 20. Now, that's one clean-up crew that better get paid overtime.
To help you along in your quest for masturbatory glory, best sellers at Good Vibrations (whose newest branch, and only location outside California, is right down the road in Brookline!) include the Aqua Rabbit Vibrator, which retails for $45. One online reviewer commented, "At 50 years old I am new to masterbation [sic]. I used this for about an hour. . . . This is my new best possession. I don't need to have an affair. No man can do that." But, gentlemen, don't despair — there's stocking stuffers for you, too: lube "sampler packs" come at a thrifty $7.50 online.
Then there's Vulva University, which offers classes on the orgasm, g-spot, etc., though no degrees seem to be offered — yet. The San Francisco (which is apparently where fun lives) organization also sell Wondrous Vulva Puppets, which are produced in Manchay, a small village in Peru, in a free-trade exchange that includes sex education gratis. For a personal touch (and we do mean that), creator Dorrie Lane will adorn your velvety plush vulva with semi-precious stones or essential fragrances (if you catch our drift). Lane also offers to wrap the WVPs in a meaningful fabric of your choosing. Suggestions on the Web site include: "A wedding dress, baby outfit, Grandma's dress or quilt." Yeah, nothing brings comfort like a vulva puppet made out of grandma's gardening jumper.
By the numbers
According to the 1948 and 1953 Kinsey reports, 92 percent of men reported that they masturbated (and the other eight percent lied), as did 62 percent of females. Of course, 45 percent of those females who said yes (yes . . . yes . . . yes . . . ) added that they could orgasm in an impressive three minutes. In the 1950s, circumcision rose in popularity because it was believed that too much foreskin made sex too pleasurable, making for masturbation obsession. Unfortunately, it turns out that the root cause of desire to masturbate was having a penis in the first place.
Today, while the number of men reporting their self-love has gone up only marginally, to 95 percent, women proudly owning their one-on-one time has shot up to 89 percent. Chaka Khan!