Full text of Masturbation Myths by Teesha Morgan at TEDxStanleyPark conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: MP3 – Masturbation Myths by Teesha Morgan at TEDxStanleyPark
Did you know that spicy foods actually increase your sex drive, that they wake up your libido and actually cause you to become more lustful as a result?
And did you know that if you’re a man and you masturbate enough, you can actually become infertile? Not only that but it can cause a slow degenerative condition that not only affects the man but any offspring that he has as well?
And did you know that too much self-loving can actually cause you to grow hair on the palms of your hands? Everyone will know what you do with your spare time?
Okay. Everything I just told you was a lie. Thank God. But it was not that long ago when people used to believe these things and many still do. So today I’m talking to you about masturbation myths, so we can uncover some of today’s most perpetuated falsehoods and unearth some from the past that have actually come to shape our present day reality. For example, unsweetened Kellogg’s Corn Flakes were developed by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. See, he was an anti-masturbation crusader. He believed as did many people at the time that spicy foods led to lust and lust led to masturbation and masturbation led to a whole host of horrible things. So he developed this diet that was bland in flavor to hopefully decrease the chances of masturbation. It was actually his brother Will that added sugar to the flakes and market them as a breakfast cereal before they took off.
The Graham Cracker actually has a similar past. Sylvester Graham was a minister and anti-masturbation crusader and he developed the Graham Cracker as well as part of a bland diet in order to decrease masturbation. If you only knew what we did with S’mores.
Now it wasn’t just these two men campaigning against the evils of masturbation. In fact, most healthcare professionals at the time and health manuals believed the same thing. So now it’s easy for us to snicker at this and think how naive and ignorant these people must have been to believe such silly things because of course we have above leaps and bounds out of our grandparents’ generation of sexual shaming. We know our facts. I mean we’re part of movements like legalizing gay marriage and improving our sex education in our school systems and increasing our cliteracy through things like the Vagina Monologues. We know our facts. Or do we?
There’s actually still a lot of falsehood around masturbation today. You see as a sex therapist I get to meet and talk with a whole host of different people. It’s actually quite a unique opportunity because people come to me and they told me their innermost thoughts and feelings, their desires, their fears, their anxieties, their wishes, everything. And over time you start to notice patterns. So for example, women will often come to me because they have not been able to have an orgasm.
Now being pre-orgasmic could stem from a whole host of different things but one trend I often see is that many women still feel so much shame around self pleasuring, around masturbation that they don’t do it. Therefore they’re reliant on their partner as their only means to orgasm attainment but they have no roadmap for their body.
With men, I often see a different trend, or maybe — stay with me on this — maybe they’ve relied on masturbation as their sole means for orgasm attainment for so long that this has created adverse patterns. Now regardless if the client is a male or a female, looking at the issues surrounding masturbation and how that ties to the presenting sexual issue is extremely important to recognize.
So today I thought we’d address masturbation myths as our mistaken beliefs will have a trickle-down effect on future generations and contribute to many sexuality based issues that I see today. So let’s do a little fact or fiction with our favorite past time, shall we?
Fact or fiction. Women who rely on vibrators or toys to masturbate will not be able to have an orgasm with their partner during sex. They will become depended on it. That is fiction. Yes.
So some women do like more intense direct stimulation on the clitoral hood which a vibrator would provide more so than a penis. Yes, but that does not cause an inability to reach orgasm by other means. In fact, research shows that women who take the time to self-explore and learn about their body through masturbation are more likely to attain an orgasm with a partner than those who do not.
All right. Fact or fiction. Those in dating relationships are more likely to masturbate than those who are single. But it’s a fact. So those in relationships are more likely or just as likely to masturbate than those who are single. Not only that but homosexual behavior is associated with a higher degree or higher frequency of masturbation. Men masturbate more than women, older people less than younger people, African-Americans less than other groups, non-religious more so than Christians, and the more educated you are, the more likely it is that you will masturbate.
Fact or fiction. I think she’s reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Fact.
Women generally masturbate by inserting objects into the vagina therefore simulating penetrative sex. Fiction, yes.
Now, yes, some women do masturbate in this fashion and that’s fine and completely normal. However it’s far more likely for women to masturbate by using clitoral stimulation or the stimulation of the clitoral hood. Clitoris is actually a very interesting little body part. It’s not merely a little button that’s hidden away, you know we say look for the little man in the canoe. It’s actually a fairly large internal organ and it is the only body part that exists solely for pleasure. Clitoris is estimated to be between 9 and 12 centimeters long and 6 centimeters wide.
Fact or fiction. Early childhood masturbation is abnormal and may mean that your child is hypersexual. Well done, fiction.
So children learn very early on what feels good, when they touch the ball, it’s both male and female. So early childhood masturbation well before puberty even into infancy is actually quite normal.
Fact or fiction. Too much masturbation can cause adverse health risks. Fiction.
So the only health risk associated with too much masturbation would be allergic reactions due to lubricants’ infections due to unwashed toys or just skin irritation in general. Masturbation is actually the ultimate form of safe sex. Fact. Masturbation resulting in orgasm actually carries with it a plethora of positive health benefits. It alleviates headaches, it decreases stress, it’s a asleep aid. It actually improves your immune functioning. And women who masturbate during their period can actually alleviate menstrual cramps. It’s estimated that about 95% of men and 89% of women have masturbated at some time in their life, so masturbating for both sexes every day even is normal and healthy. So the only adverse health risk that might be associated with it is if you are masturbating so much that you start going to work less, say or is impeding your daily functioning and social responsibilities, then it may be an issue and you should come see me.
Fact or fiction. Masturbation will not impede your stamina or in fact your performance before a big game or workout. It’s a fact. So as already said masturbation carries with it a plethora of positive health benefits. So it actually may be beneficial to you rather than harmful.
Again the only thing that could cause you problems is if you’re masturbating to the point of exhaustion but then that would be true for any activity where you’re repeatedly using the same muscles over and over and over again.
All right, last one. Now this is a very common one I guess. Fact or fiction. Masturbation causes premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. Little quieter on this one, I see. That is fiction. Now this is a very complicated issue. So the general active masturbation does not cause erectile dysfunction. However it may be helpful to think even in terms of a sports analogy. So let’s say you are a professional athlete and during practice you’re slopping off, you’re not trying hard during the drills, just not been an overall good player. Now when you get into a game time situation, you’re not going to play like a pro, why because you practice like you play. So you have to think of masturbation in the same way. Masturbation is the practice, partnered sex is the play.
So for example, let’s say as a man every single time you masturbate you only give yourself a few minutes from first touch to ejaculation. That may condition you to those few minutes, so when you’re with a partner and you want to last longer, that may create problems for you, or let’s say you watch the same type of visual stimuli, let’s say a foot fetish pornography and then you’re with a partner who hates their feet, doesn’t want you anywhere near them, that could create psychological arousal problems for you.
So now again I’m not saying it’s the cause and effect. What I am stressing is the importance of making your practice and your play as similar as possible just like anything in life that you want to be good at. So now I could stand up here and do the fact versus fiction battle all day but perhaps the catalyst for change isn’t just in the education but on a shift in perspective.
Now there’s few people in North America today at least campaigning against the evils of masturbation like Kellogg and Sylvester Graham used to do. However there’s still a lot of negativity around this one word, or this one behavior that we have in our society today. So if we think of all this negativity around this one thing, how do we break free of this perpetual cycle of fear-based myths we just keep creating more? I mean the Roman Catholic Church holds that masturbation is sinful, so many Catholics may not masturbate or feel guilty about masturbating because of that. And many children inherit negative views around masturbation from their parents.
Now speaking to the guilt, when I was younger, I did something that I probably shouldn’t have. Now I was really worried about getting caught, so I pleaded with the cosmos, I was like please, if I can get away with this, just let me out unscathed, I will not masturbate for an entire month. 30 days, 30 straight days. Now I have no idea who I was pleading to. I’m not a religious person but I think in times where we feel like we don’t have a lot of control over our present or future we reach out to these cosmos.
So now I was lucky enough not to get caught but when I look back on that now what stands out for me is that I viewed masturbation as something that was so wrong or something that was so bad that I could use it as a bargaining tool, almost like giving up smoking or drinking.
Now I was very blessed to be raised in a household with amazing parents who never taught me that masturbation was wrong, or something I should be ashamed of or something was sinful. And as already said, I wasn’t a religious person, so where was I getting these messages from. I’ve come to realize it was from our society as a whole. For example, if you google the term masturbation and look for synonyms, words like self-abuse come up on almost every single page. So with all this negativity around this one word, how do we break free of this? I think we need new terminology for the word masturbation because changing the words we’re used to describe people, places, events and ideas are our first step towards changing our perspectives on them.
Now I’m not saying that masturbation is a bad word or that using proper terminology is a bad thing. What I am saying is that if we can be a little bit more positive in our adult slang word of tongue, in our day-to-day conversations, this would be helpful. For example, I just stayed in last night, played a little sexual solitaire, it’s a good night, it’s good thing, where I asked Jenny to come out with me but she said she needed little me time, a little self-relaxation therapy, she was having herself –
Now I’m not saying that this change is going to happen overnight but what I am asking is for each of you to do a little introspection to look at the words that we use to describe masturbation and our hangup surrounding it because if we can change this we can change our perspective on it, we will have a better society. We will be better partners, better lovers and better communicators. And the sexual problems that I see daily will decrease dramatically. So I think now’s the perfect time tonight, go home, set the mood, turn the lights down low and romance the hell out of yourself.