Celebrate Masturbation Month!

By Olive Day

<p>With a name like masturbation month you'd think the origins would have a happier beginning.</p>


May is International Masturbation Month, which means you should set some time aside to appreciate your sex toys by giving them a nice thorough clean, update and save all of your favorite porn sites, and perhaps treat your wanking hand to a nice manicure… Okay, maybe that’s not what the founders of this month intended me to do, but it’s how I’m celebrating.

If you’re not familiar with International Masturbation Month, don’t worry. The concept alone is kind of out-there to some, so it probably wasn’t plastered on the front page of your newspaper or on your Google Calendar. Because of its taboo nature, there are a lot of people who are not aware of this hush-hush holiday, but I’m all about anything that celebrates making me happy.

International Masturbation Month began in 1995 when the San Francisco–based sex toy and education shop Good Vibrations declared May 7 National Masturbation Day. Unlike the origins of Father’s Day or Christmas, their intentions were not to sell more of their products but to make a political stand against former President Bill Clinton, who called for the resignation of U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders after an audience member at the United Nations World AIDS Day in 1994 asked Elders about masturbation’s role in discouraging early sexual activity. “I think it is something that is part of human sexuality and perhaps should be taught,” she said. Makes sense to me, but that innocuous statement was the end of the first black Surgeon General’s career.

After the founders of Good Vibrations, the renowned San Francisco based sex toy and education shop caught wind of the news, they decided enough was enough. “We were astounded. It was one of the most sensible things we’d ever heard a government official say—and it cost Elders her job!” says Good Vibrations. “We started National Masturbation Month—now International Masturbation Month with people celebrating across the globe—to raise awareness and to highlight the importance of masturbation: it’s safe, it’s healthy, it’s free, it’s pleasurable and it helps people get to know their bodies and their sexual responses.”

Now in its 19th year, Good Vibrations is happy that the conversation about Elders’ unjust firing and the conversation about masturbation has become a normal conversation people are having in part because of Elders’ unjust firing. “Good Vibrations recognized many people needed support and advice about the very act of masturbating,” wrote Stacy Lloyd, a columnist for EmpowHER.com. “One of the first things they had to do was provide reassurance. They made sure people knew it was okay to masturbate in the first place. For so long, shame and stigma have been attached to masturbating. Yet the truth is it is an activity so commonplace, natural, pleasurable and healthy it is said 98 percent of us masturbate, and the other two percent are liars.“

Although the history behind Masturbation Month is pretty grim, I’m happy to know that there’s a month that celebrates your God-given right to rock out with your cock out or jam out with your clam out. Everyone is doing it, so why not learn a thing or two about its role in sexual health?

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