Dear Frances B,
Me and my friend were talking on the phone and I told him he had interrupted me masturbating. He laughed and said I should finish. So I did! We’re cool with it. We’re not lovers or anything. Is that weird – do people do that?
– Not Sure What This Means
This has nothing to do with you, but man I can’t get behind the word “masturbation”. A textbook sort of word isn’t it. Like “cunnilingus”, or “vagina”, or “testicles”, the word seems to have a chaulky taste that makes you want to carve a better word into your desk, a lustier word, a dirtier word. It hardly evokes a throbbing, swelling desire, a deliciously heart-thumping panic, a rumbling flash flood bursting through your veins into tingling, sparkling lights! No, “masturbation” should be the technical term that describes replacing your vacuum cleaner bag, or the dentist tightening your braces. Whoever made up the word “masturbation” was clearly trying to discourage anyone from doing it.
Billy Bragg once said, “If God hadn’t wanted us to masturbate, he wouldn’t have made our arms this length.” Yes, one of the few things that is right with the world is that we can have sex with ourselves. Masturbation is safe sex, it’s fun, it’s readily available to everyone, and on the technical side, it produces quite the endorphin rush, improves muscle tone, and relieves stress and tension.
As author/educator Betty Dodson once said: “Masturbation is the ongoing love affair that each of us has with ourselves throughout our lifetime.” It’s less work than meditation, and arguably a more straightforward way to get us right down to the very basics of being human. And, if you so desire, you can share it! So I think you and your friend there should give yourselves a pat on the back for having had such a great time, and not worry too much about what other people do with their friends.
Now obviously if you’re hitched up you’re going to want to check with your partner before you go running to the phone. “Oh BTW I jacked off with my friend Brad” is not exactly small talk. But, it’s not necessarily out of the question either. “Don’t do it with other people!” is a standard tenet of the monogamous set-up, but every couple draws the line in a different place. One thing is for sure: Assuming sexual boundaries without talking about them can end up causing major grief and loss of a good thing you’ve got going. If you’re not sure what your relationship boundaries are, err on the side of caution, and bring it up with your partner.
And if one friend is not enough and you want to get all your friends together for a full batch of muffin-buttering, howsabout starting a local chapter of The Masturbate-A-Thon! After 6 successful years in San Francisco, the First International Masturbate-A-Thon will be held in London, England, on August 5th, 2006. The event encourages participants to “explore safer sex, talk about masturbation, and lift the taboos that still surround the subject, by coming to and in a public place!” Participants ask friends and loved ones to sponsor them for every minute they masturbate, for every orgasm they achieve, or simply for having the nerve to show up. All money raised goes to global sexual/reproductive health and HIV research. The US holds the current Masturbate-a-thon record at 8 hours 30 minutes. Read more about the event at
– Frances Beatrix
email frances at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail your questions to frances c/o the scope, po box 1044, st. john’s, a1m 5m3.