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Masturbation Month: Treat yourself to ... yourself

OPINION

  • Alyson Hannigan as Michelle Flaherty in "American Pie"
Alyson Hannigan as Michelle Flaherty in "American Pie"
May 29, 2013|By Niki Fritz, @fritzfrack | For RedEye

Happy National Masturbation Month—or Maysturbation, as the sex toy industry so cleverly nicknamed it in 1995.

I realize I may be a little weird, but masturbation has always been a topic near and dear to my, er, heart.

I still remember the moment I learned all my friends masturbated too. A coed group of my high school friends were sitting in a coffee shop in Green Bay, Wis., pretending to be artsy when one of my guy friends brought up masturbation—probably attempting to be avant-garde. I was shocked at how quickly all my friends nodded in mutual appreciation for the sacred solo sex act.

I had thought it was just me! It was the same kind of epiphany moment I had had when I was 4 and read "Everyone Poops." Thanks to my indie friends, I learned masturbation was nothing to be ashamed of.

I credit masturbation not just with being an enjoyable, cheap and easy way to pass time during my teen years, but also for helping me delay sex until I was ready and mercifully sparing me from the whole terrible-first-time experience. Masturbation taught me what I liked so I could share that knowledge with my partners, even on the first go-round.

I realize this kind of epiphany was not the experience of most of my cohorts. We are the "American Pie" generation, and those raunchy movies taught us that boys do it whenever, wherever and with whatever pastries they can find—but only if they are losers who can't "real sex," a la Jim Levenstein. Meanwhile, girls don't masturbate or even think about orgasms unless they are dirty and kinky, like the weird band geek. Both stereotypes are filled with unnecessary shame.

Thanks to some serious misrepresentation in the media, masturbation remains one of the most underappreciated and underrepresented sex acts. For many women it still is taboo, while it has been unnecessarily stigmatized for men.

All of this is crazy. Not only is masturbation the only completely safe sex you can have (take that, abstinence-only education!) but it also is good for you: It releases endorphins and reduces stress!

Masturbation should not be a taboo topic left to Hollywood to fetishize and then slap with an R rating. It should be Chapter 1 in sex education in our schools. How can we expect kids to make smart sex choices if they don't even know their own bodies?

With Steubenville and a number of other high-profile rape cases in high schools, we've seen that kids don't understand and are not learning the concept of consent, nor do they seem to understand how sex is better when all parties are conscious and consenting.

Masturbation—and talking about masturbation—can teach kids ownership of their bodies. Sex is not just something to "give in to" or to "take" but, as cheesy as this sounds, something to explore with yourself without outside pressure.

Despite learning a lot of our early sex moves from Stifler, our generation is breaking down sexual taboos—from the increasing social acceptance of homosexuality to a push for comprehensive sex-ed nationwide.

There are only two days left in Maysterbation. For the sake of our generation's sexual revolution, you know what you've got to do.

Niki Fritz is a RedEye special contributor.

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