Flicking the bean. Choking the chicken. Two-finger tango.
Those are euphemisms for an intimate act that has absolutely nothing to do with food. They exist to cover up calling the selfish deed as it is. Unbeknownst to many, this month celebrates a conversational taboo to bring forth the naked truth about masturbation into casual talk.
“Talking about it is a taboo because it’s personal. Through generations we’ve been taught that sexuality is a bad thing,” LPC student Sarah Olaguer said. “That we’re not supposed to express it, even though it’s part of human nature.”
In 1995, Good Vibrations – one of the biggest sex shop chains and sex-positivity communities in the country – declared May as National Masturbation Month. Although it might not have been as conspicuous or recognized as other banner or cause celebratory months, it has been observed regularly since then.
For Las Positas College students, however, the month of May can be a completely different thing. May means traveling in packs to go to their respective study group sessions. May means appearing rigid, wound-up and constantly in a hurry. May means turning up to classes with droopy eyelids and breaths that suggest a near overdose of caffeine.
“Masturbation is about reducing aggression and reducing the stress,” LPC student Tyler Hayden said.
Masturbating to relieve stress. It’s one of the top reasons given by participating individuals when asked, according to a study published by University of Illinois McKinley Health center in 2008.
Student Roxanne Johnson also shares Hayden’s sentiments.
“It’s something that you do with yourself when no one is around, to feel good afterwards,” Johnson said.
But beyond this, Johnson speaks about the double standard that is attached to the mention of doing the deed when it comes to women.
“For females, everyone thinks it’s the weirdest thing ever. For guys it’s easier to talk about, because everyone thinks that it is something that guys should do,” she said. “It’s frowned upon for women but it’s the same thing. I don’t hide it. I’m comfortable with it. If my guy friends can do it, why can’t I?”
Other women, according to Joe Marsili, are still iffy on the subject.
“It’s OK to joke about. I had a fewer female friends that I can joke about it with. A lot of them are like, ‘Ew. Masturbation. Gross.’” Marsili said. “I think it might be an individual thing. A comfort thing. How they’ve been raised and their morals and views.”
Despite some females apprehension in discussing self-pleasure, according to the Gozzard Big M Survey – a study that involved 1,000 participants aged 18 to 30 in the United Kingdom in 2011 – 92 percent of women masturbate regularly. That’s merely 2 percent shy of the 94 percent of teenage boys that masturbate regularly, according to AskMen.com.
The topic of self-gratification cause for laughs among friends, according to Hayden. “It’s funny,” Hayden said. “It has been taboo an it has become something people snicker about.”
Compared to the 1950’s, it seems that women have been exploring their sexuality more. In a 15 year study on human sexual behavior conducted by Alfred Kinsey from the 1940’s to the 1950’s, results show that 95 percent of males masturbate while 65 percent of females do.
Even if the topic of self-pleasuring is becoming less of a comedic taboo, Dr. Carol Queen of Good Vibrations feels that the act is still cause for guilt among many.
“Too many people still feel uncomfortable about masturbation and guilty about doing it,” Dr. Queen said, as quoted by goodvibesblog.com. She is a resident sexologist of Good Vibrations and one of the brains behind conceptualizing National Masturbation Month.
“If only so much of U.S. culture were not so burdened with ideas that masturbation is shameful, a sin or a poor second choice to partner sex,” Queen added.
Guilt should not be a hindrance to sexual self-indulgence. The act is a relief for sexual frustration among the youth. “It’s not that people should be more open about it. They should be comfortable to talk about it,” Olaguer said. “Some people just can’t get laid, man.”
Summer is rolling around the corner and the anticipation of a summer fling is looming. But before that big summer escape, some students have to release the tension brought about by academic pressure. Whether some admit or not, that release can be found in giving – or rather making – love to themselves.