(This post taken from Bish Newsletter Number 3. To sign up for the Bish Newsletter (free resources, ideas, new things, special offers) fill in the box on the right here—>)
As you may well be aware I am on twitter (@bishtraining) which is a great place to engage with people I wouldn’t normally come into contact, it’s a great place to connect with other sex educators, researchers, activists and allies around the world. We campaign about various things: dodgy papers, crappy TV programmes, politics that kind of thing. I recommend getting involved.
So it was on twitter that I found out that May is Masturbation Month! That’s right, Masturbation Month. Porn companies and sex shops are tweeting about it a lot (they put #MasturbationMonth in their tweets so that people can click on it and see what everyone else is saying about that topic).
I thought it would be a great excuse to raise the issue from a sex education/sexual health point of view. Sexual health is not just about absence of disease or unwanted pregnancy but the possibility of having safe pleasurable sex. (see the W.H.O. definition of sexual health). What better example is there of safe and pleasurable sex than masturbation?
Yet talking about it can be difficult. There’s a lot of stigma around sex, we live in a sex negative world (think of a swear word, is it to do with sex? What does that say?) so talking about sexual pleasure is frowned upon. People often find that it is more acceptable to talk about the harms of sex than the pleasures and positives of sex.
In addition to the stigma around sex there is also additional stigma for masturbation. Social and media discourses about sex often frame it purely as a physical, penetrative and partnered act. It often feels like the messages we receive about sex is that there is a normal way to do it and any other way is not acceptable. Masturbation is seen as being dirty and weak and a poor substitute for ‘real’ sex.
So to help I’ve put a handout and poster together (see below), which hopefully will make talking about masturbation easier. Perhaps you can give it to people in clinic settings, or leave it on a coffee table, or use it to teach with. You have a licence to make a reasonable number of copies with it for educational purposes. If you have any questions or want to make loads of copies please ask me.
There are other resources about masturbation over at bishUK.com http://bishuk.com/tag/masturbation/ The latest in my parent’s guides is around masturbation and is particularly aimed at parents of teens with learning difficulties. It’s very much a beta work in progress so feedback about this would be great.
So why not join twitter and use the #MasturbationMonth hashtag to tell the world what you’re doing to promote self-love this month.
Have a fantastic May….
PS read this great piece on Masturbation Month by Charlie Glickman