Perhaps Senate hopeful Christine O'Donnell had no idea her thoughts on masturbation would become such a hot topic in 2010. The "liberal elite" media has definitely picked up on this with Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell talking about it on their shows. Saturday Night Live opened the new season with a parody of O'Donnell saying she didn't realize what she was talking about when she preached against it and states that now she masturbates all the time. Even Carl Rove—CARL ROVE—has a problem with what has come out of her mouth.
Thanks to Christine O'Donnell, the subject of masturbation, quasi-taboo several months ago, is now all over the media. People are talking about it, making jokes, having fun with it. Why not? Masturbation does not cause blindness. In fact it is a normal, healthy part of human sexual behavior. It helps us realize what we like and don't like, relieves tension and promotes a vivid and creative imagination. For a pubescent teen, masturbation helps to relieve the pressure of wanting to try it, making it easier to wait.
American culture is sadly lacking in healthy attitudes towards sex. We use it to sell everything from deodorant to cable TV. But there is an underlying dirty aspect attached to it. Americans have a puritanical view of sex, yet we choose to delight in the pornographic side of it. Mixed messages abound and those who suffer most are our youth. Young women have become famous by flashing their exposed vaginas to the paparazzi and making homemade sex tapes that get "leaked" to the press. We Americans judge and criticize these girls and call them whores but clearly embrace what they do and make sure they are paid handsomely for doing it.
As an author of a book about sex, The Virgin Diaries, I see it all the time, while out there in bookstores and at festivals. Our society’s mixed sexual messages color the way we educate our youth. Parents will pass by with their kids and as soon as they see the word virgin they become visibly uncomfortable and look away. It’s interesting to note that when younger kids (12-14 years old) have an opportunity to look at the book without their parents' knowledge, it is clear how interested they really are. This should not come as a surprise, as we were all young once and can remember wondering about it even if we were not ready to engage in it.
I have not heard Bristol Palin's views on masturbation but we all know she preaches abstinence. How easy it must be for her to have had sex and a baby and now collects fifteen to twenty thousand dollars per speaking engagement to preach abstinence. A clear case of do as I say, not as I do.
Why is it that the right wing Republicans, the party calling for less government, wants to dictate so much in our lives? Including our SEX lives? Especially when these views are from a religious standpoint. If I am correct, this is still a free country and we as citizens still have freedom of religion, so why should you or I refrain from sex or masturbation because an evangelical politician or daughter of a money-grubbing, power hungry Pit Bull with lipstick says so?
It is easy to write this off and make jokes. These are extreme ideas and not everyone, or even the majority of people, care what a small group of politicians has to say about our sex lives. But it is important. These voices are loud and are gaining strength and attention. Their words are out in the world, keeping the idea of sex and masturbation dirty and forbidden. In doing so, they encourage people to make money by putting their genitals on display in the hope that they too will have their fifteen minutes of fame.
Sex happens. It always has and always will. Education is the best defense against whatever consequences may come from it, such as unwanted pregnancies and STDs. It IS a free country and we have the right to believe and practice what we want within the parameters of the law. If people similar to Christine O'Donnell come into power, the laws may change. Abortions may become illegal again. Rules on where, when or with whom you can enjoy sex may be thrust upon you. Open your eyes, educate, be educated and do not allow a religious sector (especially one you do not follow) or political stance to dictate your behavior, sexual or otherwise.
I would personally like to thank Christine O'Donnell for bringing so much attention to the subject of sex and masturbation. It is a subject that needs attention in a positive and healthy way.
If you’re looking to provide positive sex education to teens, may I recommend my book, The Virgin Diaries. It is a compilation of seventy-two anonymous stories from men and women about what it feels like to have consensual first time sex. Some other books to look at are: Restless Virgins: Love, Sex, and Survival at a New England Prep School by Abigail Jones and Marissa Miley and Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex by Ellen Sussman.
To quote one of the stories from The Virgin Diaries "Don't wait. Masturbate!