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the lip crew on masturbation

masturbation in art

Touch yourself.


‘Men standing around in a room, praying for forgiveness from their deity for jacking off and not impregnating their wives with more sheep for the flock: this is the sight that confronted me during the Channel 4 documentary Sex Death and the Meaning of Life. As a sex positive person, it was perplexing. Even as someone scarred by religion myself, I do not understand the taboo of masturbation. Its status as unmentionable – whether as a symptom of religious guilt for “sin” or simple prudishness – needs to be changed. I have always been pretty open about it. I remember answering in the affirmative to “do you do it?” at age 14. Actually, I may have been 13. Anyway, I was young. I shied away from any further questions about it by shouting the maxim “everyone does it!” Of course, I know now that I do not have to be shy at all. My knowledge has also expanded to realise not everyone masturbates. If it doesn’t float your boat, good for you! That is, as long as you are not buying into the hairy palms / eternal damnation bollocks.
It sickens me that society has organised itself to stigmatise so many aspects of human sexuality, including masturbation, that is 100% consensual and pretty much the safest sex around. Well, maybe not if you’re into autoerotic asphyxiation…Regardless, for many people masturbation is a necessary step to understanding their sexuality. Strumming the pink guitar and choking the chicken (etc., etc.) enables people to learn what feels good and what does not. Through playing with yourself you can find out what you desire and what your fantasies are.

P.S. If you weren’t already a proponent, it has a multitude of health benefits ;)’ – Sarah Iuliano, Columnist


‘My sex-ed teacher in high school once told our class that we should all do it, or at least try it once. She also said we should get a compact or a handheld mirror and take a look at ourselves. This was, I think for all of us, a pretty radical thing to hear. And although we eventually had many frank conversations in sex-ed (usually interrupted by laughter, eye-rolling and embarrassed smirks) for some reason the idea that we should check ourselves out or masturbate was the most shocking. That this stands out for me, more than anything else we talked about that year, seems significant. I’ve had conversations with friends about sex but sexuality and sexual expression is always discussed as a two-person activity or with someone else’s pleasure being taken into account. It’s more of the same on television: young women masturbating is oftentimes cheekily alluded to and rarely discussed or shown. Instead, there are a lot of euphemisms and hand gestures or rickety appliances and hand showers; we know but we’re not supposed to know. I have to hand it to shows like Girls, Broad City and even Mad Men for showing that female masturbation is a) normal and kind of unexceptional and b) a healthy part of a child’s development and that shaming them for that behaviour is antiquated (or should be.) In light of Eve Apparel reporting that more than half of young women in the U.K can’t locate their vagina on a diagram, or can’t use the proper names for their reproductive organs, we need more teachers encouraging their students to get acquainted with their bodies…and enjoy it.’ Shannon Clarke, Writer


‘Masturbation still being taboo is one of the most bizarre quirks of human society I can think of. It’s not like it’s even unique to us – all the other mammals do it too – what the Hell is our problem? I very much look forward to the continued crumbling of religion so that in its place we find new ways to accept our shared humanness. Sexual expression is a fundamental aspect of not only our physical identity, but in our ability to communicate with each other. The further we get from moralism being attached to what we do with our bits – when it’s consensual and/or in our own private time – the better.’ – Audrey K Hulm, Writer


‘I feel naked, my feet slapping on the wet floor of the aquatic centre. The air is overheated. The windows have steamed up. I am here for one reason: aquarobics. I have driven to the northern suburbs to try out the water sport. I expected a dimly-lit, deserted pool – but this Monday evening class is populated by a cohort of aquarobics devotees. I slide into the water, which shimmers beneath fluorescent lights. There’s over forty people here for aquarobics, and we’re all women. An eighties power ballad kicks out of a small amplifier, and our instructor (her name is Kathy) stands at the pool’s edge and starts yelling. “Alright, ladies! Let’s get moving!” She rocks back and forth, and we mimic her, stepping through the water. Next to the lap lanes, in five rows of eight, we swing our bodies around to Whitesnake’s thumping drums and distorted guitar. I’m baffled by this class’s popularity: we’re essentially marching at a fast pace with water up to our chests. After half an hour, Kathy walks away.

‘What’s she doing?’ I say to the red-faced rotund lady next to me.

‘She’s getting the noodles.’

Our instructor returns to throw armfuls of styrofoam pool noodles to us.  It’s Raining Men comes on, and she demonstrates how to sit on them. Really? I think – but I mimic her, putting my noodle between my legs and sitting on it. It makes a U, sticking up at the front and back of my body. The noodle is buoyant, and exerts a gentle pressure on my nether regions.

It feels good.

Kathy instructs us to swim while sitting upright on our noodles, legs kicking back and forth. This causes a very pleasant rub. I can’t suppress my smile, nor can I meet anyone else’s eye. Now I know why aquarobics on a Monday night is so popular.’ – Lou Heinrich, Literature & Books Editor


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