Friday, November 17, 2017

The Tipping Point

You know how you throw a buck or two to the coffee lady? If you're feeling flush, pretend I'm the coffee lady, but with delicious words for your soul, man.

(If you are rich and/or drunk when this finds you, consider becoming a monthly patron!)  

xo jill

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How Wanking It Created the Universe and Other Theories on Masturbation

I am thinking of masturbation this morning. Not in the sense of putting it on today's "to do" list (although--what the hell--maybe I was, you don't need to know every damn thing), but in a more general, historic context way.

It was spurred by Kathleen telling me about a sexuality talk she gave some 'tween girls, based on the excellent book Changing Bodies, Changing Lives.

Armed with some notes and pads of paper for the girls to doodle on (secret real purpose: to give them a place to pretend to stare at if things got too embarrassing) brave Kathleen laid it all out for these girls--including the hows of orgasms, the phases of sexual response, and the role of masturbation in a healthy sex life. Kathleen even talked to them about sexual fantasies and told them different ways that girls might want to touch themselves. The eminently sensible idea being: people armed with knowledge are better able to make smart and responsible decisions about sex.

It was completely revolutionary to me. The one hour of sex education class I got in the 1970s contained quite a bit of information--an excessive amount, to my mind--about vas deferens, fallopian tubes and the like, but nothing in the way of practical information about sex. That is, the $%$# you actually wanted to know. I mean, my teacher described the doing of "IT" as "the sperm meeting the egg," as though a cotillion was somehow involved. There was no fucking way she was going to talk about the emotional and physical benefits of jerking off.

When I had my first self-given orgasm, I thought I had probably broken myself. I might have asked someone about it, but I was somehow aware that this was the sort of activity one didn't speak of. (Later I worried that I might have become pregnant after an interesting experiment with a pool water jet.* I was perhaps not the brightest of children.)

This kind of masturbation shame/ignorance is, fortunately, a fairly recent development. Throughout most of history, masturbation was considered natural, good, a sign of fertility and such. There are spurts of masturbation references throughout art, mythology and history. The ancient Greeks approved of stoking one's own fire, considering it a healthy outlet for both men and women. And in Egypt, the god Atum was thought to have brought forth the universe by ejaculating during what must have been a rather interesting session of beating off. ("Atum! You're still in the bathroom? What are you doing in there, young man?")

So accepted was the practice that nannies in 17th century Europe would masturbate young males who couldn't get to sleep(!) This is perhaps what people mean when they complain they can't get good help anymore. Dear Carmen, the lady who used to clean my house before I became poor, never once offered to give me a handjob, even after I pointedly mentioned I was having trouble sleeping.

How did we get from there to here? I mean, what sort of crazy-ass mind control propaganda could get people to turn against such a pleasurable activity? It was an influential pamphlet, of all things, circulated in 1700s America. It explained that semen held the Life Force and, as such, should not be squandered in the handkerchiefs of the day.

Soon, a variety of health and moral problems were added to plain ol' life force squandering. In "A Solemn Appeal," Sister Ellen G. White lists a host of old-timey ails caused by "the practice" including the dreaded "dropsy." The alarmed Sister warns, "The mind is often utterly ruined, and insanity supervenes." This perhaps explains why I have been known to stare blankly when someone asks me my cell phone number.

In Daniel Hack Turke's 1892 A Dictionary of Psychological Medicine, he described a habitual masturbator thusly:

The face becomes pale and pasty, and the eye lusterless. The man loses all spontaneity and cheerfulness, all manliness and self-reliance. He cannot look you in the face because he is haunted by the consciousness of a dirty secret which he must always conceal and always dreads that you may discover. He shuns society, and has no intimate friends, does not dare to marry, and becomes a timid, hypersensitive, self-centered, hypochondriac.

Obviously such a fate was undesirable and young masturbators needed to be saved lest they, too, become pale and pasty in the face. According to Mary Roach in Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, "Little hands were tied to headboards, and trousers fashioned without pockets. Hobbyhorses were taken away, and climbing ropes removed from school gymnasiums." And in 1914's Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship, scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell urges boys stricken with the forbidden urge to literally run away from temptation until presumably the boy would be so physically exhausted he would no longer have the energy to reach for his member.

This kind of hysteria fed on itself, and at a certain point, anti-masturbation advocates sound less concerned with the moral health of our youth and more like completely insane sadists. John Kellogg, the cereal guy, claimed that the "solitary vice" caused a host of health problems, up to and including death. "Such a victim literally dies by his own hands," Kellogg wrote, perhaps chuckling to himself over his wit. I knew Kellogg was wack--I mean, the dude invented a high-powered enema machine for personal use--but I didn't realize just how much of a nutter he was until I saw this in Wikipedia's History of Masturbation:

He recommended, to prevent children from this "solitary vice", bandaging or tying their hands, covering their genitals with patented cages, sewing the foreskin shut and electrical shock. He also recommended burning off the clitoris to prevent masturbation in girls.

Enterprising Americans wanted in on this action and dutifully invented all sorts of dreadful devices to stop people from ravishing themselves. (For lots of scary pictures, see also: Stephenson Billings' The Anti-Masturbation Movement's 14 Greatest Inventions on ChristWire.) There were penis fans to keep one's member from undue warmth, full body suits to prevent lustful wandering hands, and alarm systems designed to alert parents to their children's nocturnal erections (not quite sure what the parent is supposed to do once alerted). Penis cages and trusses locked the guilty organ up or tied it down to physically prevent erections. And when those didn't work, physical pain was employed. 

"The Timely Warning" (pictured at left) prevented "night emissions by arousing the wearer." "Arousing" is, at the very least, a curious choice of words. I guess it's an 1800s adman's best try at a positive spin on what would more accurately be described as: "being rudely awakened from your sweet dreams and pleasantly swelling erection by the sharp stab of a ring of metal teeth cutting into your wang."

The fetish gear-looking contraption shown at right is from US Patent 745,264, filed May 29, 1903, by one Albert V. Todd, for a device designed to prevent masturbation and nocturnal emissions. It features "a lockable belt with a tube for inserting the penis." If the errant penis were to rise while its pious owner was innocently sleeping, the device would employ spikes, an alarm bell, and an electric shock to get things back under control.

It's madness, obviously, but plenty of people are still afraid of masturbation (see also: The Dreaded "M" Word by former U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders, who was fired--I can still scarcely believe it!--for merely mentioning masturbation.) This article, for example, Freedom From Masturbation, offers guilty onanists a religious approach to stopping, including specific anti-monkey-spanking prayers to recite and the advice to "pray intermittently in tongues as the Lord leads you." (I would much less disturbed by walking in on some guy jacking off than some guy not jacking off while sporting a huge hard-on and speaking in tongues, but that's just me.)

The good news is that, in general, things seem to be finally turning around. Viva Changing Bodies, Changing Lives and people like brave Kathleen teaching girls how to wank it! As Dan Savage says in Savage U, "Girls should be encouraged to experiment, masturbate, learn how their bodies and orgasms work before moving on to partnered sex. Partnered sex would be less intimidating and disappointing out of the gate if more women arrived knowing how to get themselves off."

Go forth and create a universe.


*I'm pretty sure that this is how Aquaman was conceived.

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Subtitle My Book (aka What The Hell Is It I Do?)

Consulting the Oracle:  Hey, gorgeous. I need your good brain and/or mystical contacts.

Here's why:  I've compiled the best of IBWMW into a book, working title Hysterical.* I sent it to three agents and all said, "Love your voice. (pause) Essays are impossible to sell."

So. I need an alluring through line that makes these impossible essays seem more like a memoir or quest or otherwise must-have book. They would still be the essays, but tarted up and packaged in a more saleable way.

When I get a solid/compelling subtitle like Hysterical: (blah blah blah i am a lady who stares too closely at sex and have learned some shit, this is the point/quest behind the whole book), I'm in. But I've been thinking on it for weeks and I CAN'T FUCKING FIGURE OUT WHAT IT IS. (this, for the record, is my DO SOMETHING! shout into the Void.)

Do you see the highly marketable theme/quest/format that I'm not seeing? (Talking around it/vague ideas also helpful, if pithy titles aren't your thing.)

If you are the one who pulls the subtitle from the ether, not only will I dedicate the whole damn book to you AND offer you the coveted title of IBWMW Minister of Big Ideas, I will send you something from my big box of secret sex toys. Presently residing in there are:

--An iCome throbby rabbit-style vibe from Doc Johnson
--Snug Plug from b-Vibe, a weighted silicone butt plug
--Snug Plug 2 from b-Vibe, same deal, but bigger
--Novice Plug from b-Vibe, small and powerful vibrating butt plug w/ remote control for torturing a loved one
--Le Wand, a big-ass old school rumbly wand vibrator like the original Magic Wand that got our foremothers off. (don't think too long on this.) I'll throw in the Curve, a weighted silicone attachment because I am just that desperate for clarity.

What are you holding? Consult your Muse and let me know. 

We're Number....2...yeah:
Thanks to you, IBWMW was #2 in the Reader's Choice category for this year's Kinkly's Sex Blogging Superhero contest. I am undecided whether to be deliriously happy that the blog beat out over 400 other blogs for the honor or peeved about the one (1) blog who beat us. That it is not obvious to me is something I should probably discuss with a licensed professional.

Okay Then: Now that I've just asked you to solve my life, I feel awkward and exposed, so I will divert your attention with this shot from Salvador Dali's 1973 photo shoot for Playboy Magazine. It might be safe for work or might not--kinda hard to say.


*I'm thinking of re-naming the whole blog Hysterical. What say you?

(top image courtesy: governmentname)