I Place My Hand on Myself

In  the 1930s there was a musical called Young England. Inspired by the ideals of Baden Powell and Moral Rearmament it was a call to build a purer better Britain. UKIP would have approved, not least some of the party’s loopier elements. Intended to be stirring and patriotic it bombed and its unintended humour had the audience rolling in the aisles. It suffered the ignominy of being axed after the first night. The audience found the song ‘I place my hand on myself, what have I here?’ particularly amusing and there are, I think, no prizes for guessing what they were thinking of.

Masturbation has traditionally attracted mirth and disgust in equal measure. The Church has  disapproved of it ever since the days of St Jerome, who decided when translating the Scriptures into Latin  that Onan, in Genesis Chapter 38,  had been guilty of self abuse. Onan was, in fact guilty of a breach of customary law in an entirely different way. His brother had died leaving his wife Tamar a childless widow. Onan’s duty was to impregnate Tamar, an entirely reasonable expectation in a society where having children was essential to guarantee security in old age. He didn’t want to and withdrew before ejaculating. It was coitus interruptus and not masturbation that Onan was guilty of. But the sexual aspect was secondary to his failure to carry out his clear obligation to his brother’s widow. Nothing to do with wanking and poor Onan has had his name misused down the ages in many languages.

We had a book in my school library, a Home Doctor from the 1920s, which had an entry on masturbation. Symptoms apparently included shiftiness, untrustworthiness and an inability to look another man full in the face. It was assumed, you see, that only men played with themselves. Suggested cures included cold baths, feather pillows and lying on your front.

We all laughed at this but, on a more serious note, generations of teenagers have experienced unnecessary worry and trauma about their doing something that comes naturally and is good for them.  Dire consequences, from eternal torment to blindness awaited the self abuser. Yet masturbation is essential to our sexual self awareness, to our developing a satisfactory relationship with our own bodies. How can you tell your lover where and how to touch you if you haven’t explored your own body first? A friend of mine always says that the acid test for erotic fiction is the clit test. I show her drafts of my work and the first question I ask is ‘Did you….?’

This is Masturbation Month . Follow it here  http://masturbationmonth.blogspot.co.uk/ and enjoy yourselves! I certainly intend to as I place my hand on myself.

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