Masturbation Research

Essay by sharonulysses April 2009

download word file, 4 pages 4.0

Masturbation, although commonly practiced, is a sexual behavior that continues to elicit negative reactions, including embarrassment, shame, stereotypes, and misunderstanding. Indeed, contradictory cultural messages continue to exist regarding sexuality in general and masturbation in particular. While sexologists (sex researchers) and sex therapists describe masturbation as "touching one's genitals in a sexual way" as a means for overall physical, mental, and sexual health, others, such as religious leaders, have described masturbation as immoral (sinful), harmful, unnatural, and dirty. Various research studies focusing on masturbation have found differences in rates of and motivations for masturbation by gender, age, marital status, race and ethnicity, religion, education, and even body image. Further, individuals' use of masturbation may be influenced by prevailing cultural messages about its relative acceptance in contemporary society. Perhaps no other sexual act is both extremely private and publicly ridiculed. Numerous slang expressions are used to represent solitary sex, such as "spanking the monkey" or "dipping into the honey pot."Multiple

historical records indicate that masturbation has been a consistent part of human existence. Historian Reay Tannahill discusses several ancient civilizations' implicit acceptance of masturbation amid other more regulated sexual behaviors, though masturbation is less accepted for status-conscious men than women. Some Greek women used olisbos, or the ancient equivalent of the dildo, an artificial phallus. However, by the 11th to 16th centuries, many social commentators, mostly religious thinkers, contributed to a discourse that increasingly described masturbation (or any sexual act not leading to conception) as dangerous. These proclamations influenced public opinion to view masturbation the same way. In the early 1700s, masturbation was erroneously called onanism, after Onan of the Old Testament "spilled his seed on the ground." Religious scholars, though, have since explained that Onan engaged in coitus interruptus rather than masturbation.

In the mid-1700s, Swiss physician Samuel Tissot promoted the...