The Exciting History of Masturbation

Written by Rhiann McNally


Of all sexual activities, it’s no wonder masturbation is the most common. Unlike other sex acts, it's safe, easy and completely healthy.

Solitary sex lets you get off without consequences such as sexually transmitted infections or unplanned pregnancy. Provided you do it in the privacy of your home, and you don’t go telling your religious parents about it, you won’t get in trouble for rubbing one out.

Of course, masturbation hasn’t always been seen as a natural part of life, the sexual revolution happened less than a century ago, and prior to that, doctors, religious leaders and philosophers weren’t big fans of the ménage à moi.

Project - Drawing 1781671507.png
 
 
Project - Drawing 1540255020.png
 
 
Project - Drawing 11637424818.png
 
Project - Drawing 12130230905.png
 
Project - Drawing 1136354333.png
 
Project - Drawing 1156897394.png
 
Project - Drawing 1567642418.png

Masturbation and Creationism in Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egyptian mythology, it was believed that the first god existed before anything else. Surrounded by nothingness and doing what any bored, lonely person would do, Atum masturbated. Only when he masturbated he created the world and the other Egyptian gods.

Masturbation was central to their creationism myth, the Nile was seen as representative of Atum’s ejaculate. It was important for the Pharoah to keep the balance in the earthly realm, and to do this, he, along with some keen subjects, would perform a ritual of masturbating into the river every year.

 

Petting the One-Eyed Snake was Normal in Ancient Greece

Before masturbation became taboo, the ancient Greeks considered it a completely normal part of life. It was viewed as a healthy alternative to other sexual acts and was considered to be a great way to release sexual frustration.

It wasn’t just dicks that got to have all the fun, female masturbation was written about and featured in art too. Diogenes, who was a big fan of pulling the old sausage in public, said, “If only it were as easy to banish hunger by rubbing my belly."

 

 

Thoughts on Jerkin’ It in Early Christianity

In the early Christian church, weren’t massive fans of masturbation. This was because church officials believed it was a bad idea to spill “the seed” for reasons other than to conceive children.

Father Clement of Alexandria wrote, “Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted.”

This, of course, did not only limit masturbation, it meant you couldn’t come anywhere other than a vajayjay. The church’s position on masturbation spread and influenced many societies over time.

 

Wanking in the New World

In 1600s America, the Puritan colony of New Haven, Connecticut, outlawed blasphemers, homosexuals and masturbators. Their punishment, if caught, was death.

While they were passionate lovers in the marital bedroom, any sex acts performed outside of marriage, whether that be adultery, or masturbating was punished severely.

Puritan Scholar, Francis Bremer told Boston Magazine, “While Hester Prynne didn’t exist, there were people who were censured and stood in the pillories with an A on their chest for adulterer or adulteress. Or F for fornication, or whatnot.”

 

Polishing the Family Jewels in the 18th Century

In the 18th Century, masturbation was referred to as “Onanism”. The word first appeared in a pamphlet handed out in London in 1716.  The pamphlet title didn’t mince words: "Onania, or the Heinous Sin of self-Pollution, And All Its Frightful Consequences, In Both Sexes, Considered: With Spiritual and Physical Advice To Those Who Have Already Injured Themselves By This Abominable Practice."

Much of the anti-jerking-off propaganda was pretty obsessed with the detrimental effects to your health. The symptoms of a good tug included loss of appetite, increase in appetite, indigestion, vomiting, nausea, coughing, bodily pains, weakening of internal organs, eye and ear disorders, decline in intellect, memory loss, rage, madness, epilepsy, fever and suicide. And of course, deterioration of the dick.

Of course, the remedy for all these problems and more was a tincture advertised at the end of the pamphlet. So, the pamphlet wasn’t the most reliable source of information.

 

Flicking the Bean in the 19th Century

Hysteria was once a common diagnosis, given to women to explain a mountain of symptoms. Women could get diagnosed for exhibiting symptoms like nervousness, insomnia, irritability, being a trouble-maker, desiring sex, not desiring sex, and shortness of breath.

Basically, if your wife or daughter was acting like a bit of bitch, she probably had Hysteria. Ironically, one of the treatments for Hysteria was pelvic massage performed by a doctor leading to a hysterical paroxysm (orgasm). Ignoring the horrors of, y’know being a woman, in really, anytime in history, it’s interesting to note that some scholars have hypothesised that doctors’ tired hands led to the invention of the vibrator.

While masturbation was considered a treatment for women in some circles, in other circles it was a death sentence. Doctor John Harvey Kellogg, yes, the inventor of your fave corn-based cereal, was a staunch anti-masturbation campaigner.

It’s said he claimed there were plenty of jacking-off-related deaths, and that "such a victim literally dies by his own hand." Of course, he invented Corn Flakes to help prevent the urges that drive people to masturbate.

 

20th Century Sexual Revolution

By the middle of the 20th century, a change has begun to roll in. Renowned sexologist Alfred Kinsey had found that masturbation was an instinctive and natural behaviour for women and men.

In 1968, masturbation was removed from the DSM II, and the American Medical Association declared it normal in 1972.

Today, the benefits of masturbation are well-known, it can lower the risk of type-2 diabetes, and increase pelvic floor strength. It can reduce the occurrence of cervical and urinary tract infections in women, reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men. It’s been found to reduce insomnia and reduce depression by increasing endorphins in the bloodstream.

So giving yourself some me-time might be just what the doctor ordered.