May Is the Month for Getting in Touch

Sex With Jewrotica

Written by Mara Yacobi. Mara, a certified sexuality educator and licensed social worker, is Jewrotica’s resident sex educator. Check out Mara’s latest posts on The Many Flavors of Pleasure and Resources for the Curious.

Rated PG-13What do Corn Flakes, Graham Crackers, and the month of May have in common? The correct answer is . . . drum-roll, please . . . masturbation! Who would have thought?!

Since 1995, the month of May has been dedicated to openly promoting a healthy, safe way to experience sexual pleasure without the stigma of shame or health hazards that are often associated with the subject. As for how masturbation relates to breakfast cereal and crumbly crackers, both John Harvey Kellogg, M.D., and Minister Sylvester Graham believed that masturbation was the cause of serious health problems. They both espoused sexual abstinence and healthy eating, and believed that plain, bland food would decrease one’s interest in masturbation and sex. This was, of course, quite the controversy.

However, the controversy concerning masturbation goes much further back than 19th-century America. Throughout the history of Judaism, the subject of masturbation has been a controversial subject. In fact, in traditional Judaism, masturbation to ejaculation – hashkhatat zara (literally “willful destruction of seed”) – is strictly forbidden.

If you’re interested in learning more about this, read the story of Onan in the Book of Genesis. While I respect those who follow this ruling, the purpose of this post is to enlighten and inform anyone who wants to learn more about this touchy subject. Before you read on, maybe now would be a good time to enjoy a bowl of corn flakes . . . or maybe not.

Despite all the controversy, masturbation is a relatively common practice. According to The Guide to Getting It On, somewhere between 80% and 95% of guys masturbate, and anywhere from 50% to 85% of women do it, too. Regardless of who says they do or do not masturbate, a person’s relationship with his or her genitals occurs long before adulthood. Babies and children start exploring and experiencing the pleasure of touching their genitals as a means of soothing and comforting themselves, or because it simply feels good. Unfortunately, parental reaction to a child’s genital exploration and/or pleasure from touching their bodies is often met with a negative or shameful response: “Get your hands away from there! What are you doing?! That’s disgusting!”

The emotion conveyed in such statements is shame. Of course this is the very last feeling we want to associate with any part of our body—especially our genitals, which can bring us so much pleasure. What’s more, as children age, masturbation is often one of those taboo topics that people are too embarrassed to discuss or, if it is discussed, they only whisper or laugh about it. Rest assured, this is a safe forum to discuss masturbation, and whatever your personal experience as a child was, my hope is that you gain more comfort exploring your body—which should ultimately lead to your enjoyment of your own sex(uality).

So why masturbate? Here are just a couple of the reasons: First, it can help you become more aware of your body and how it experiences pleasure. This is important to know whether you are single or in a relationship. Identifying the right spot or touch can be very liberating, and being able to communicate to your partner what type of touch you like is an important aspect of intimacy and mutual pleasure. Second, masturbation can also help release built-up stress. This is because focusing on oneself and reaching an orgasm release two feelgood chemicals in the brain: dopamine (which gives us a sense of pleasure) and endorphins (which give us a sense of well-being). And here’s a bonus reason: masturbation can help you fall asleep. The endorphins released during climax lower blood pressure, which promotes relaxation. Sweet dreams!

If you’d like to enhance your experience when you masturbate, consider reading some of the Jewrotica posts. Stories involving erotic fantasies and confessions can be highly arousing. If you think this might be true for you, click here, here or here, to get yourself and/or your partner in the mood.

When experimenting with what feels good, try different pressures: For men, you may find lubricant to be helpful for smooth gliding along the shaft of the penis. You may also wish to experiment with various types of touch—from a light to tight grasp. For women, stimulating the clitoris with your fingers or a vibrator using various levels of pressure and speed can give you some insight on what feels good for you. However, keep in mind that a partner may not be able to replicate these sensations. For instance, guys tend to use a very tight grip when masturbating, but the vagina is not capable of replicating such pressure. Likewise, the stimulation from a vibrator cannot be reproduced by hand and fingers. The bottom line here is to explore and enjoy a variety of experiences without becoming dependent on just one type.

We’ve come a long way since the radical and controversial views of extremists like Kellogg and Graham were actually given credence (We can skip our membership in that breakfast club!). Today, we know that healthy sexual activity has many beneficial effects for the mind and the body. Masturbation is one way for people to enjoy their sexuality. It is a form of safe sex that helps a person achieve a greater intimacy with his or her own body and sexuality, and, when and if the time is right, to share their discoveries with a partner.

Mara Yacobi is a Certified Sexuality Educator, Licensed Social Worker and Founder of JLove and Values. Mara lives in New Jersey with her family and dreams of becoming a talk show host and finding more hours in the day.