Masturbation Month Comes to Town

If you didn’t know May was National Masturbation Month, you’re not alone.

By Liz Spikol
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 19 | Posted May. 12, 2009

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If you didn’t know May was National Masturbation Month, you’re not alone—nor are you even necessarily Catholic. The annual observance doesn’t have a hugely high profile. It started in 1995 in—where else?—San Francisco, as a response to the forced resignation of U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders. After a speech at the United Nations World AIDS Day in 1994, an audience member asked Elders about masturbation’s potential for discouraging early sexual activity. She replied: “I think [it] is something that is part of human sexuality and a part of something that perhaps should be taught.”

That was the end of the first black surgeon general’s Washington career, but the beginning of National Masturbation Month, a protest effort started by the company Good Vibrations. This year it has its Philadelphia debut.

Elicia Gonzalez, 34, is spearheading the local self-pleasure education effort in conjunction with the Mazzoni Center, Philadephia’s LGBT health center, where, as manager of the Collective, Gonzalez addresses sexual practice and drug use among men of color. We spoke with her about the fine art of onanism.

What motivated you to start a National Masturbation Month observance in Philly?

“I initially had the idea to do it primarily because at Mazzoni we talk about masturbation quite often with clients, and I talk with my staff about talking to their clients about masturbation as a way of expressing their sexuality, but doing so with very low risk. I knew that May was coming around and that raising awareness about masturbation in general would be a good idea.”

And it seems to tie into the workshop you offer to women on the subject.

“I’ve had a longstanding mission to help empower and educate females. I did the workshop at the LGBT Women of Color Conference and at Sister Song. The workshop helps women dispel the myths surrounding masturbation and encourages women to talk openly about their values and beliefs about masturbation, which is also the goal is for the Hot Button event.”

So the Hot Button event is a party?

“We’re having a sort of Hot Button lounge, if you will, in the basement of the Fuse party and we’re going to have a Masturbation 101 workshop, a sexuality Pictionary and masturbation Quizzo. So that’s going to be a very fun and interactive way of getting education out there but also raising awareness and helping people talk about it. Because a lot of the shame and stigma that I’ve heard comes from not being able to discuss it openly and honestly, and being really ashamed about it.”

Do you feel like religion has something to do with that shame?

“I think a lot of the myths that are currently still at play stem from religious teachings that say that masturbation is a sin against God and various religions. The Old Testament stated that Onan basically sinned against God because he didn’t impregnate his brother’s wife. Instead he masturbated and spilled the semen on the ground. That has been interpreted as a sin against God. But in actuality, [the story] has more to do with procreation. This is just my own personal view, but in my understanding, part of religious teaching is promoting procreation. Anything that kind of goes against procreation, including masturbation as well as homosexuality, is sort of condemned.”

I recently learned about the Passion4Christ Movement’s anti-masturbation campaign, which claims masturbation is dirty.

“There are a ton of different [myths]. Doctors used to think that bringing your body to orgasm would basically cause it to get so excited that it could potentially result in brain damage.”

Do you think there’s more shame around masturbation for women?

“I think so. Historically, female masturbation has been equated with immorality and insanity. When we introduced the idea of having a Hot Button party, there were several people who came out saying that they were surprised to learn that females masturbate. They thought it was only something that men did. … It goes really, really deep. Women are constantly talking about the impact that this has on their sexuality because I think that sometimes our sexuality exists only for the pleasure of others. You’re not necessarily allowed to explore your own sexuality. It can kind of keep you a prisoner of your own shame. Women’s bodies have been demonized for centuries and women have often been discouraged from discussing their sexuality.”

Is that why you feel it’s important for women to masturbate?

“I think in terms of overall general health and well-being, masturbation is a healthy sexual expression that we have for ourselves, by ourselves, on our own terms. It’s a way of expressing sexuality while staying safe. In terms of the overall mission of the Mazzoni Center, we provide health services to LGBT Philadelphians, and sexuality is part of that. And this is one of my life missions: making people feel empowered to make decisions, to take control of your own body. When you feel empowered about your own body, I think that makes all the difference in the world.”

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Comments 1 - 19 of 19
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1. PhillyLove said... on May 12, 2009 at 11:18PM

“What a great way to help prevent the spread of AIDS and sexually transmitted disease!”

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2. cagney said... on May 12, 2009 at 11:24PM

“hot and safe in the city for the summer!”

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3. Dave S said... on May 13, 2009 at 06:12AM

“I am 66yrs and I have been masturbating all my life and I feel it is a very harmless way to rid one of sexual frustations and it hurts nobody and it is very pleasurable . Everybody should do it .”

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4. womyn_love said... on May 13, 2009 at 08:22PM

“yay mazzoni center! what a great way to promote your support of women and our health!”

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5. womyn_love said... on May 13, 2009 at 08:23PM

“yay mazzoni! what a great way to show your support for women and our health!”

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6. Anonymous said... on May 14, 2009 at 09:36AM

“I LOVE TO MASTURBATE!I'm 13 and i do it at least 2 times a day because it helps keep my urges for sex to a minimum.Everyone should do it.”

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7. Mark said... on May 14, 2009 at 10:39AM

“Way to go Mazzoni! Promoting the healthy expression of this desire within all of us can only be good.”

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8. Anonymous said... on May 14, 2009 at 02:16PM

“I spanked it twice while I read this.”

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9. NLM said... on May 14, 2009 at 02:44PM

“Actually, every month is Masturbation Month. Every day too.”

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10. BFC-OT said... on May 14, 2009 at 07:14PM

“I can't wait to masturbate when I get home.”

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11. joey v said... on May 14, 2009 at 07:54PM

“Masturbation and pineapple burgers FTW.”

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12. luckytopher said... on May 15, 2009 at 03:37PM

“Marturbation is great, I spank it all day to Silverbeam, sometimes, I have trouble because I think of Joey V and butthole pleasures when im about to hit my climax and i get a little uncomfortable. THATS when Cisero comes in ;]”

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13. luckytopher said... on May 15, 2009 at 03:40PM

“* i forgot to mention i LOVE BTP <3”

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14. Anonymous said... on May 16, 2009 at 12:03AM


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15. St_Jakk said... on May 19, 2009 at 05:01PM

“Regret is the price payed for missed indulgences.”

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16. Martha B said... on May 26, 2009 at 04:08PM

“I think the Masturbate-a-thons are healthy, sharing, and wonderful events that should be promoted. It's no wonder events like this and masturbation in general becoming popular, accepted and more attended every year. I believe you can only bring as much pleasure to your partner as you can to yourself and he has proven to be able to provide much. I attended one a few years ago and it was very tasteful and refreshing. I most enjoyed the conversations I had with participants, old and young, male and female, while they were in front of you completely naked and working hard to get themselves off. Felt perfectly natural and normal except for the occassional pauses in conversation, eye rolling, and moans as waves of pleasure occassionaly intruded.
If everyone could just masturbate more often, we would have less pent up anger, calmer nerves and be able to keep our heads on straight when it comes to sexual oportunities with another person. We can also ensure we are sexually fit and functioning well when the oportunity finally does arise. Perhaps there will be less need for viagra and healthier prostates. My boyfriend and I were very inspired by this and I know that many others are as well. Anyone should be proud of performing because, just like any athlete, it takes much practice and hard work. Best of all, unlike other sports, defeat is just as pleasurable as winning whether you're the contestant or the spectator.


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17. Anonymous said... on May 27, 2009 at 04:27PM

“ROFL !!!!!!!”

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18. Anonymous said... on May 18, 2011 at 03:10PM

“I'm beating off right now while reading these comments. Someone should post pictures of their pussy while I'm doing this.”

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19. Spanky said... on May 7, 2013 at 03:02PM

“I'd like to add more to the comments but my hands are a bit full right about now....vsdmbndsbdsjbsgsgjvbasvkangjodhjbnk/nkhbjvy”


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