Don’t read this, or you’ll go blind

On the subject of masturbation, I’ve often wondered if the phrase, “you’ll go blind,” was created by a Puritan or a comedian. Needless to say, it obviously is a false statement. For if it were true, very few people in this world would be able to see.
Is masturbation good or bad? Anyone who believes that sex is bad, will believe masturbating, as a sexual act, is bad. Masturbating is probably not a biological need. It’s not crucial to survival, at least survival at the most basic level of keeping oneself alive. It is unlikely that anyone trying to survive in nature, that is, needing food or shelter, even has the time to lay back and fantasize about an imaginary lover. Unless, of course, the food supply for that day was sufficient enough and the survivor managed to find time to relax.
But as reliever of stress in the modern world? It might not make one go blind, but it is possible that masturbating might prevent one from going insane. Not insane in the sense of going completely mad. But more so as a controlling device; a survival skill that helps maintain balance in a sexually repressed world. In modern society, food and shelter are not a problem. In fact, basic necessities of life are taken care of to the point where many people have much free time on their hands. They have time to enjoy themselves, however they may choose to do so.
Some people have hobbies. They build model airplanes, collect stamps, sew, and involve themselves in hoards of other arts and crafts activities. Hobbies, or arts and crafts, are very much a part of the modern social and cultural makeup.
A Puritan might believe that spare time should be spent reading the Bible, or instructing one’s family about the ways and means of God. For those less religious, TV watching or netsurfing might consume much of their free time. Free time is a good time to fix things, reorganize, run errands or just clean. Free time is also a good time to spend with family and friends.
But what do we do with family and friends in our spare time? Well, generally speaking, we don’t sit around and masturbate each other, especially family. In this world, it would seem utterly absurd, and by many standards even perverted and sick, for a father to suggest to his son that since house chores and homework are finished, to go up to his room and masturbate for awhile.
When someone asks someone else what they are doing, rarely will that person answer by saying they are masturbating, or having sex. Out of all the activities previously mentioned and many more not mentioned, masturbating or any form of sex is a completely private matter. It is an activity performed behind closed doors … without making any noise.
Masturbating is generally solitary. However, this view fails to appreciate the joy in masturbating someone else. And joy is what masturbation, and sex in general, is all about. It’s a way to have sex when sex with another person is not convenient.
It is extremely difficult to bring everything back to a biological or fundamentalist place. Here we are, nearing the 21st century, and the world is very much an erotic place for many people. Erotica is also a multi-billion dollar industry. It ranges from fashion magazines to beach bunnies and hunks to outright pornography. Clothes are made on the basis of sexual or non-sexual appearance. Clothes can be functional. Clothes can be sexy. Again, there is a time and place, controlled by the rules and regulations determined by what many believe to be a moral society.
Indoctrination expects everyone to control their urges. Failure to do so results in punishment, banishment or some other like response. So there are those who are out to control the urges and desires of others. First they must control their own urges and desires. First we must determine if those individuals who are out to control the urges of others even have urges and desires themselves. Now we enter the realm of denial.
Denial, of course, is the ultimate means of controlling urges and desires. We simply pretend they don’t exist. Or, if we acknowledge their existence, we justify the existence of these urges and desires by claiming it’s the work of the devil, or some other evil force. So instead of denial, we fight an evil force. We go to battle.
Meanwhile, all of this controlling and urging gets very confusing for many. We have the urge to have sex with someone else, knowing it feels good to do so, but don’t because we are led to believe it is wrong. So we masturbate to find the balance. We can masturbate to relieve ourselves of these urges, but masturbation does not relieve us of the guilt associated with the act.
So apparently many people choose to live in a world of guilt. Masturbation and guilt go together. But masturbation and guilt are two things we can do without anyone else knowing. Guilt is the ultimate controlling device. The power to make someone feel guilty for an unseen, unknown act has got to be the most powerful force on earth. It’s like saying, “I don’t see you masturbating, but if you are, shame on you.”
A way to compensate for this, that is, if one does not feel guilty for masturbating, is to simply deny that they do masturbate, if anyone should ever ask. However, that leaves one with the guilt of lying. But then, what right does anyone have to ask anyone else if they masturbate or not? No doubt, there are many who would just as soon make masturbation a crime as any other sexual act. This would then create the masturbation police, and there would be a lot of people owing tickets and the jails couldn’t be big enough.
So is it wrong or is it right? Is it an urge born from desire or biological need? Does the mere existence of it condone the practice? If this were true, then murder would be acceptable simply because murder exists. But murder causes pain; it removes life. Masturbation does not cause harm, it does not waste seed. Sperm is not a limited supply, except temporarily, while the human body takes time to manufacture a new supply. But manufacture it will, as long as one is alive. And for women masturbating, nothing is depleted, except perhaps for the number of orgasms they have before reaching the point of saturation or exhaustion.
So I think it’s fair to say: You will not go blind.
Jerry Flattum is the Opinions Editor for the Minnesota Daily. Send comments to: [email protected]