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Category Archives: Opinion

Why May is National Masturbation Month

national masturbation month

In 1994, at a UN conference on AIDS, Dr. Jocelyn Elders was asked if masturbation should be promoted as a way of preventing teens from having unsafe sex. Dr. Elders replied: “I think that it is part of human sexuality, and perhaps it should be taught.” The outrage this statement caused was so great that President Bill Clinton was pressured into firing her. In May 1995, in support of Dr. Elders, sex store Good Vibrations declared May to be National Masturbation Month. National Masturbation Month has since grown a life of its own with everyone from sex educators to sex stores latching on it to promote their own causes.

This embarrassing incident may seem quaint given that it happened 18 years ago. After all, since the controversy, we’ve had a Sex and the City episode about vibrators, a wildly popular comedy about masturbation, and an erotic novel that is dominating the bestseller lists. We can even buy sex toys specifically intended for masturbation now at chain drug stores. Despite these advancements, however, the attitude that masturbation is shameful and taboo still persists in American culture. When a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Florida recently tweeted links to Planned Parenthood’s educational page about masturbation, it sparked national controversy and plenty of ill-informed comments.

Jim Sedlak of Stop Planned Parenthood (STOPP), a project of the American Life League, said that endorsing the “gateway drug” of masturbation was of a piece with Planned Parenthood’s ideology on sex education.

“Planned Parenthood is an organization that makes its money from people involved in sex,” Sedlak told in an email. “Although Planned Parenthood pushes masturbation for all, it particularly targets young people with the message. It is a way to get these young kids involved in a sexual lifestyle.”

Sedlak said that youths buy the idea of masturbation as “risk-free” sex but end up “hooked on sexual stimulation as a way to escape their problems.”

I can’t decide what’s more ludicrous about this quote: the fact that masturbation is considered a “gateway drug,” or the fact that some people think masturbation is part of a grand conspiracy concocted by Planned Parenthood. The most appalling part of all, though, is the fact that an extremist like Jim Sedlak can still receive a national platform to spread his insanity. The same attitudes that forced Dr. Elders out of a job in 1994 are still alive and present in May 2012. This is why we still need a National Masturbation Month.

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