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A Brief History of Onanism
November 17, 2011 3:20 AM   Subscribe

Me, Myself, and I: "Coprophagia wouldn’t have fazed them at all, sodomy wouldn’t have slowed them down, incest would have actively interested them—but masturbation: please, anything but that. " A review of Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation, giving a short history of masturbation throgh moral, religious and cultural lenses. posted by marienbad (27 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
"there is one thing that I believe is absolutely crucial: there must be no humor at all. Once you allow the students to laugh, it is all over."

...and to that end, I will write a review so long as to bore the audience into solemnity.

I kid, I kid! I suspect its a hold over from having to write a Religious Studies thesis in college, but truthfully I always get bogged down in moral/cultural histories that spend most their time detailing the shifts in prevailing church stance on the subject. Contrawise, I'm fascinated by authors who look at the politics and philosophical currents that influence the 'religious' stance, such as the recent New Yorker piece on birth control history in the US.

Either way, interesting read, thanks for contributing to my cultural literacy marienbad.

BTW, I did love the inclusion of Proust's allusion to masturbation, which I completely missed when I tried to slog my way through Swann's Way in college.
posted by midmarch snowman at 3:52 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Masturbation is the vice of civil society, the culture of the marketplace, the world in which traditional barriers against luxury give way to philosophical justifications of excess.

This explains the internet, centuries before it was invented.
posted by maxwelton at 4:32 AM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]




I sense that something recursive is going on here. Greenblatt is a central figure in historicist criticism, one of its progenitors, in fact, so a review by him of an historicised account of masturbation might easily be construed as a masturbatory undertaking.

Anyway, here's that Nashe poem.
posted by tigrefacile at 4:43 AM on November 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


You know what stops masturbation? Skyrim.
posted by Splunge at 5:06 AM on November 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


You know what stops masturbation? Skyrim.

That's the first cogent argument against the game that I've ever read.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:18 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Only on such solemn occasions as High Mass on Christmas Eve in 1666, when the sight of the queen and her ladies led him to masturbate in church, did Pepys’s conscience speak out, and only in a very still, small voice.

Performance artists and radio morning shows should just give up on trying to be transgressive and shocking, because I don't think that it's possible to top jerking it to the Queen at Christmas Eve mass.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:19 AM on November 17, 2011 [32 favorites]


You know what stops masturbation? Skyrim.

Delays. Does not stop.
posted by srboisvert at 5:29 AM on November 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


What a load of old wank.
posted by titus-g at 5:31 AM on November 17, 2011


I don't think that it's possible to stop jerking it to the Queen at Christmas Eve mass.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:33 AM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know what stops masturbation? Skyrim.

As someone who played Daggerfall at the age of 12, let me assure you that if Bethesda wanted to design a game without this particularly feature, they are more than up to the task.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:34 AM on November 17, 2011


Thanks for getting my hopes up. I thought we were finally going to have a post on the blue about coprophagia.
posted by stinkycheese at 5:55 AM on November 17, 2011


Thanks for getting my hopes up. I thought we were finally going to have a post on the blue about coprophagia.
posted by stinkycheese


Eponyrevolting. Anyway, it's time we take a hands-on approach to ending masturbation. Together we can beat this thing.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:05 AM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


says Faint of Butt.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:19 AM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Making love alone, you save on cologne
posted by Ideefixe at 6:36 AM on November 17, 2011


You know what stops masturbation? Skyrim.

Ah, the advantages of being a lady gamer. My controller vibrates thank you.
posted by Jilder at 7:18 AM on November 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, as I understand it, God initially created only Adam, and he had to ask for a companion.

So, clearly, masturbation is the only form of sex approved by God.
posted by DreamerFi at 7:45 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Drinking brandy, gin, beer, is generally fatal to the perfection of the voice; Meanness of mind, the same; Gluttony in eating of course the same; a thinned habit of body, or a rank habit of body-masturbation, inordinate going with women, . . .rot the voice (my emphasis).

From the notebooks of Walt Whitman. Seems like he was trying to cover all bases here, but I dug this up because a long time ago someone told me that masturbation hurts singing and cited Whitman.
posted by Danf at 8:07 AM on November 17, 2011


tried to slog my way through Swann's Way

Coincidentally, also a euphemism for masturbation.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 8:07 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


While reading the article, I got an ad for The Legend of the Large-Penised White Male.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:18 AM on November 17, 2011


madcaptenor While reading the article, I got an ad for The Legend of the Large-Penised White Male.

"Call me Ishmael..."

Oh. White male.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:25 AM on November 17, 2011


My favorite historical masturbation story is that of Diogenes, who when caught masturbating in the Agora, is said to have explained, "If only I could satisfy my hunger simply by rubbing my belly."
posted by bokinney at 9:47 AM on November 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


I read Solitary Sex a few years ago and I have to admit that I think the reviewer is missing the point just a little, and is therefore Old. I don't think Laqueur is trying to "shock" at the end with the "grotesque" photographs, and all that talk about Proust and how masturbation is like a stepping-stone in our adolescence is a bit off - as I recall, the thesis of the book was ultimately that Freud was wrong and that masturbation is not "childish" behavior but rather a natural part of human sexuality of which nobody should be ashamed.

Also reading that book in the summer of 2008 made me some pretty interesting friends in the New York subway.
posted by Mooseli at 11:16 AM on November 17, 2011


Certain novels were, of course, specifically written, as Rousseau put it, to be read with one hand.

Mmmm yeahhh, I'm reading the fuck out of The Fountainhead.
posted by book 'em dano at 11:57 AM on November 17, 2011


(that was a freebie)
posted by book 'em dano at 12:00 PM on November 17, 2011


Ah, yes, I'll never forget the blustery eighth-grade morning when I "discovered" masturbation in the shower. What a relationship I've had with it since then. It's been like the moon to my sun.
posted by Fister Roboto at 2:05 PM on November 17, 2011


Solve ALL the problems!
posted by ostranenie at 6:20 PM on November 17, 2011


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