Can’t we find a better word for masturbation?

victorias sketchbook's picture


A reader sent me some pictures of himself in his private space asking me to draw them for him. Quite an honour to be allowed into someone’s private space, and it’s wonderful for me to be able to draw “real people” that I can actually have contact with rather than the usual actors that are available in these kinds of positions.

I’ve always hated the very word “masturbation” and I looked it up to see if I could find out why. And I did!!!

whoa… check out these definitions:

: erotic stimulation especially of one’s own genital organs commonly resulting in orgasm and achieved by manual or other bodily contact exclusive of sexual intercourse, by instrumental manipulation, occasionally by sexual fantasies, or by various combinations of these agencies called also onanism, self-abuse

Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc.
and then, it gets better (or worse!)
1766, from Mod.L. masturbationem, from L. masturbatus, pp. of masturbari, altered (probably by influence of turbare “to stir up”) from *manstuprare, from manu, abl. of manus “hand” (see manual) + stuprare “defile” (oneself), from stuprum “defilement, dishonor,” related to stupere “to be stunned, stupefied” (see stupid). Earlier Onanism (q.v.). The verb masturbate is first recorded 1857.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper
stay with me, that’s not all…
Onanism is defined as “self-pollution” or “masturbation” and it comes from a biblical story about Onan, who spilled his seed on the ground rather than impregnate his dead brother’s wife… but the best part of this definition is at the end: “SOMEHOW THIS WAS TWISTED BY PRUDES INTO A PROHIBITION OF MASTURBATION”.
Thank you to the Online Etymology Dictionary for this revelation!
The only ”stupid” thing about it is, not the people that masturbate, but how we have been imprinted with this 200 year-old guilt about masturbation. For some, it’s a life-long unravelling of body and sexuality acceptance… but if we dare do it for ourselves, I am convinced it helps others… as do the many web sites and blogs that are now sharing in the demystification of the subject. YAY!
A few years ago I bought my teenage sons an awesome book called “Puberty Boys” hoping it could help answer some questions that they maybe couldn’t talk about with their mom. (No, they do not read my blog but I know they’re visiting porn sites). While one of them remains shy and reserved about his private acts - which is fine with me – the other one smiles a not-so-secret smile whenever the subject of the penis or what he does with it comes up… it’s still none of our business, but he doesn’t seem to be able to do anything other than smile about the issue… it’s something positive for him!
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ive always enjoyed the words

crippled sensuality's picture

ive always enjoyed the words fapping or schlicking.

I love myself... Daily.

Miss Mixed's picture



Before I read your article I didn't really think much about where the word masturbation came from. That's not saying I didn't know, because I did, but the meaning and the negativity behind it was a moot issue for me...

But this article made me realise that while my ignorance was unintentional it was still ignorance... And my ignorance is made worse by the fact that I was aware of what I was ignoring.

So many thoughts, ideas and stereotypes about masturbation come from, in the UK at least, Victorian prudery. The notion that it is was self abuse included as part of this.

It seems that anything that is enjoyable to the point of habitual is considered harmful... This was even said about tea drinking at one point! Something as innocent as tea! But even more shocking is that while we have moved on from trivial views held about tea and now accept it as part of everyday life... We can't do this for masturbation. And this is purely because it is sexual.

I have so many views on this and perhaps I will write an article in response as I feel my comment is to long... But you certainly hit a chord with me and it shows.

Masturbation is healthy and I am glad that you are able to parent your sons in such a way that allows them to retain this.

As for an alternate word for masturbation... I can't think of one but I am all sure we would agree with Woody Allen on this one... "Masturbation is sex with someone I love."


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