Self-love: Give yourself a hand!

Most other commemorative occasions (like Valentine’s, Mother’s and Human Rights Day), only get a single day annually. Masturbation on the other hand (the ‘good’ hand), gets a whole month, every May!

Masturbation has been a topic of fascination and scrutiny for centuries. It’s one of those human behaviours that people are quite acquainted with, but it’s not usually up for discussion. Most of us started fiddling around the adolescent hormonal rage age and from there on it gradually settled into a when-the-mood-arises sort of thing.

Religion, and more specifically the Catholic church, proclaimed it as a sin of the flesh and that the male seed was solely intended for procreation. Even sex itself was not to be enjoyed but exclusively a holy ‘union’ between a man and woman to populate the earth. It is for these reasons that discretion, secrecy and an element of shame around “me-time” remained in our collective unconscious.

Fast forward a couple of centuries and sex and sexuality has changed a lot, but remnants of the past beliefs are still evident in direct and indirect ways. The one thing you can be sure of is that if you repress human nature, it will surface in other ways, very much like a steam pressure cooker on a warm stove. An example is how masturbation became negatively appropriated in the English language.

The slang words “wank” and “wanker” originated in British slang during the late 19th and early 20th century. “Wanker” has similar meanings and overtones to the American “jerk” or “jerk-off”. Wanker, tosser and jerk-off literally mean “one who masturbates” but in modern usage is used as an insult or a term of contempt. “Wanker” can also suggest that someone is egotistical or exhibits self-indulgent behaviour.

It is also indicated by a one-handed gesture. This is usually to an audience who is out of hearing range or hidden from their gaze. It’s performed by curling the fingers of the hand into a loose fist and moving the hand back and forth to mime male masturbation, which is equivalent to saying, “that person is a wanker”; which can also be a sarcastic gestural way of saying “whatever” or “yeah right”.

“Tosser” is closely related to being “a wanker”, but has a slightly different meaning in that the word means a layabout, a bum, or a person who is generally idle not doing anything constructive in life. (Somebody who is as useless as a person who masturbates and fails to achieve or come to anything in life.)

That all adds up to masturbation getting an unfairly bad rap. But let’s get real: though most instances happen in private or behind closed doors, it is a lot more common than we would like to admit (and perfectly normal). And the many benefits of masturbation more often than not get left out of the discussion:

* It can significantly lower your risk of prostate cancer
* It makes your erections harder and keeps you perky
* It helps you last longer during sex
* It boosts immunity and keeps your body stronger
* It boosts your mood by releasing dopamine and oxytocin that lift your spirits
* It can help you fall asleep by releasing chemicals like prolactin, serotonin, and oxytocin into the brain, which have been linked to feelings of happiness and relaxation
* It can improve your skin by increasing blood flow to the skin
* It helps you get to know your own body better
* It improves the health of your heart
* It can increase your lifespan. Yup, according to Men’s Health, it can actually help you live longer!

So next time someone calls you a wanker, don’t feel ashamed or hurt because you jiggle solo or sometimes like to have your own last “Rolo”, just remember that you are wanking for your life and your good looks and that you’ll probably outlive them anyway.

(Ps: Here are a few new techniques you can try out or look into.)

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