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Voorkant Van Driel 'With the hand - A cultural history of masturbation' Mels VAN DRIEL
With the hand - A cultural history of masturbation [vertaling door Paul Vincent van Met de hand. Een culturele geschiedenis van de soloseks uit 2010]
London: Reaktion Books Ltd., 2012, 255 blzn.
ISBN-13: 978 18 6189 9194

(7) 1. Introduction

"Conclusion: masturbation tends to be avoided as a topic of conversation. This involves some strange assumptions: many women think men discuss it among themselves in their macho, bragging, shameless way, while men think women talk about it together, and are much more open about bodily matters than men. In practice we find that both groups are tight-lipped about it, women even more so than men. The only exception is boys in puberty."(10-11)

"In any case there is an obvious taboo on masturbation: an authoritative 2003 survey showed that as regards sexual taboos, masturbation is indisputably in first place for both men and women. Erectile problems and sexually transmitted diseases were in second and third place. Women generally enjoy talking, but when it comes to masturbation more of them find the topic difficult than do men (47 per cent as opposed to 32 per cent). The reason? In general men are more familiar with their sexual organs, for the simple reason that from an early age they encounter their penis when urinating. Girls have to conduct an active search to find out what everything looks like down below. That often does not happen, with the result that they continue to regard their genitalia as something dirty and ugly."(12)

(15) 2. Ages, Locations and Frequencies

"It is not only the sexually mature who masturbate: small children also stimulate themselves. Two-year-olds often do it by rhythmically tensing and relaxing their closed legs. Hands are sometimes also used. The Danish researchers Hansen and Balslev analysed video footage of two boys and eleven girls and observed them exerting pressure on their nappies, sometimes with their hands and sometimes with toys. Small children are sometimes quite wrongly referred to a children’s neurologist because of suspected epileptic attacks, when the movement pattern indicates masturbation, often combined with sweating, flushing and hyperventilation.(...)
These little children discover that ‘ordinary’ masturbation gives a pleasant sensation. It is different from masturbation later in life in which the object is generally to achieve orgasm. Parents are usually concerned about masturbation in their young children, but the phenomenon is perfectly normal."(16-17)

"Many modern sex education books suggest that masturbation is a good way of discovering one’s own body. In that way, they argue, the adolescent is better prepared when he or she starts having sex with a partner. That seems to imply that masturbation is fine, but is unnecessary once one is in a relationship."(18)

(26) 3. Education

"Women who had proved capable of orgasm by any means before marriage responded to sex in their marriage with an orgasm three times as frequently as those who had never pre- viously experienced one. Masters and Johnson found in their research for their book Human Sexual Response that an orgasm achieved through mas- turbation was reached more quickly and was generally more intense than one produced by a partner."(38)

(57) 4. Sex Aids

[Allemaal feitjes en anecdotes.]

(94) 5. Animals

"Masturbation occurs not only in humans but also in many other mammals, such as dogs, apes (bonobos), kangaroos and elephants – the list is endless."(94)

"For a long period not a word was said about masturbation in books on sex in the animal kingdom."(96)

[Tenslotte moest het idee dat seks er alleen is voor de voortplanting in stand gehouden worden. ]

(100) 6. Doctors and Other Scientists

"If most of us today regard masturbation as an agreeable, enjoyable variant on other forms of physical love, it was assumed well into the nineteenth century that the practice could lead to the most horrific diseases. "(100)

"At any rate Tissot’s ostensibly scientific approach did have a considerable influence on the development of the anti-masturbation movement. Not only doctors, but many clergy and pedagogues accepted his ideas. The masturbation fallacy was certainly grist to the mill of the Catholic Church – the moral theologians could not believe their luck!"(103)

"Extremist religious beliefs provided fertile ground for the acceptance of destructive surgical procedures. These included not only circumcision and castration, but also infibulation, or ‘sewing shut’."(116)

[En zo lieten allerlei groepen zich met plezier in - economisch of ander voordeel! - met deze morele paniek: de gelovigen / priesters / geestelijken (uiteraard), de artsen (kassa!), de opvoeders (macht!). ]

"For centuries the commandment ‘thou shalt not masturbate’, which became a paradoxical fusion between the progressive spirit of the Enlightenment and conservative ecclesiastical views, held the community morally in its thrall. Far into the twentieth century masturbating patients were informed of the gruesome consequences of their behaviour: mutilation, blindness, hysteria, aggression and madness (particularly in women), kidney disorders or a deformed spine, the familiar endless litany. This pathology sparked a new industry, supplying products like erection alarm apparatuses, penis sheaths and for girls special gloves and bandages to prevent them from opening their legs. The fact that knowledge did not prevent people from continuing to masturbate indicates that moral crusaders have little or no influence over human actions."

[Het is maar hoe je dat ziet. Ze konden het misschien niet stoppen, maar de ellende die ze veroorzaakten was natuurlijk immens en creërde angst.]

"However much psychoanalysts presented themselves as liberal, they were generally rather opposed to women’s right to structure their sexual lives for themselves. Wasn’t it Freud himself who labelled the clitoral orgasm as ‘infantile’ and the vaginal orgasm as ‘adult’? Obviously the idea that adult women could reach orgasm without a penetrative phallus was not congenial to him. (...) From all this it is clear how for decades after the death of Freud psychiatrists resisted the idea that masturbation is a completely natural phenomenon."(129)

"Because they revealed a great deal – too much – about American sex life and gave sexuality a scientific status, Kinsey’s findings were mercilessly pilloried, especially by politicians, and he died a broken man a few years later. It was no wonder that it was the mid-1960s before Masters and Johnson came forward to further advance the cause of sexology. They were advocates of masturbation, since they believed that it had a salutary effect both on the marital relationship and on gen- eral health." [mijn nadruk] (130)

(146) 7. Culture, Religions and Philosophers

"‘Go forth and multiply,’ as it says in Genesis. Down the ages, generally speaking, spilling one’s seed has been regarded as sinful or as a necessary evil in most cultures and religions. The history of the safeguarding of the position of sexual intercourse for the purpose of reproduction is an immensely long one."(146)

Ook filosofen hebben vanaf de Oudheid bijgedragen aan alle negatieve mythen en onwaarheden rondom masturberen, al waren er ook die positiever ideeën hadden.

(172) 8. Writers and Poets

"The under-representation of the masturbation motif in literature is undoubtedly connected with the undeniably unspectacular character of this basically solitary activity. Everyone can do it, it offers few interesting variations and in itself it is not terribly exciting."(172)

(202) 9. Entertainment

Masturbatie is te vinden in allerlei vormen van de schone letteren. Maar ook in films:

"For further information, see http://blog.spout.com/ 2008/08/10-best-masturbation-scenes/. The authors of the book Erotic Cinema, Douglas Keesey and Paul Duncan, devoted three pages to the phenomenon in film and add several marginal notes, for example, on what objects were used in what films in masturbation scenes. "(205)

"It will be clear after this exploratory survey that masturbation has penetrated the non-pornographic film industry too, in the wake of Emmanuelle, which quite unexpectedly, thanks to the performance of Sylvia Kristel, became a huge success. "

(209) 10. Artists

"True art-lovers will admit that art can only exist by virtue of taboos and that those taboos must be broken. Which artists have tried to break the taboo on masturbation? "(209)

"Nudity forces the viewer to make a fundamental choice. Does he or she look at the other as a person or as an object? Everyone is familiar with the experience of looking in at a window and unexpectedly seeing a naked woman who is unaware that she is being looked at. You then have the choice: either you see her as a person and you look away, because you must respect her privacy, or you see her as an object and look closer." [mijn nadruk] (212)

[Dat is weer eens een tegenstelling die niet deugt. Waarom maak je iemand tot een object als je blijft kijken. Wat is er verkeerd aan nieuwsgierig zijn naar hoe iemand er uitziet, aan bewondering voor iemands uiterlijk? "Ik vond je zo mooi, ik moest blijven kijken ... " Zou die persoon zich dan beledigd en omlaag gehaald voelen? Ik kan me dat niet voorstellen. Maar ook: Waarom moet je wegkijken als je iemand per ongeluk in zijn of haar blootje ziet? Waarom zou je daar niet neutraal mee om kunnen gaan? Waarom zou je er al bij voorbaat van uit gaan dat een persoon zich zal schamen als die persoon merkt dat er een ander is die hem of haar per ongeluk bloot ziet? Er zitten dus allerlei stiekeme vooronderstellingen aan dit voorbeeld.]

"Summing up, one could argue on the basis of the above brief exploration that masturbation has been only sporadically depicted by visual artists, not only in Classical antiquity but even in the post-Enlightenment era. Perhaps they find it less interesting than writers and poets because they have to represent it both literally and figuratively."(232)

(234) 11. In Conclusion

"A new Tissot will probably never arise. Or will he? It is true that in the twenty-first century masturbation has climbed to new heights. The internet, which acts as a kind of modern confessional, has opened the way to a virtually anonymous but unlimited platform for triggering impulses and exchanging fantasies among virtual communities of masturbators, as far as we know most of them male. "(235)

"The large-scale opinion polls quoted in this book regarding people’s sex lives confirm that virtually 100 per cent of men and over 80 per cent of women admit to occasionally masturbating. By way of comparison, in the 1940s and 1950s those figures were 90 and 60 per cent respectively. The changed figures are partly the result of pornofication. The main aid to masturbation is the computer, the device that has encouraged masturbation in recent decades. "(237)

"Of all sexual actions, masturbation remains the most difficult one to discuss openly. When it is good it is a strictly personal experience, which many people have learned quite wrongly is dirty, sinful, shameful or even unhealthy. It is, however, the most common human sexual expression and is perfectly normal. Why do we do it? Is it because sex with our partner does not satisfy us? Because there is no partner? Because men watch porn and can’t contain themselves? Because women read exciting, erotic books? Is it a universal physical need? In my view none of those questions are very relevant. Masturbation is not at any rate a hobby of profligate, hedonistic individualists. " [mijn nadruk] (239)

"It will never be possible to prove it scientifically, but masturbation may also be a contraceptive device, a safety valve preventing all kinds of sex crime. One only understands that fully when one knows the kinds of fantasy that accompany many people’s masturbation. This fact has scarcely penetrated our society. "(239-240)

"I fear that for many people it will be a long time before they achieve non-compulsive, fantasy-filled masturbation. The same applies to adequate sex education for our children. It will definitely never reach the point where masturbation lessons take their place alongside swimming and traffic-awareness lessons. That can only happen when we have left behind the eternal glorification of sex issuing in sexual intercourse behind us. That attempt is no doubt doomed to failure. The reality is that the number of singles is rising. Masturbation has a deeply murky past, but solitary sex has a ‘golden future’ ahead of it. " [mijn nadruk] (241)

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