As a female, I was never taught directly about masturbation.
When the guys and gals would be separated for our gender appropriate lectures, I got to hear about modesty and how to be a ‘good’ wife. (Chaste, modest, quiet, submissive… not anything about communication or being a whole person without a husband, sigh.)
The boys got to hear about leadership and occasionally, about masturbation. I’m not sure what they said about it, but I remember the gloomy faces slinking out of the boys lecture room one of the days they spoke about it.
However, our church policy was not entirely draconian.
Once my uncle told me as a teen he ran across a mentally disabled boy jacking off in the boys dorm. He was so disturbed he told the elders. They informed him that in this circumstance it was fine since they didn’t want the boy channelling his sexual urges towards any of the girls.
I have no idea why my uncle thought this story was important to tell me. I was horrified because he felt he had to tell the elders about this behaviour, but I think he assumed my reaction was about the masturbation since he kept talking.
Whatever the official stance on it was, the attitude about it was clear.
Bad. Dirty. Only for desperate circumstances. Not to be talked about. A male issue only.
A friend of mine told me that her mother had been praying for my friend’s sons since they were little. About their “sinful hands”. The assumption was that all boys would, you know. And that it was sin.
Well, first of all, not all boys do. I have actually dated a few who didn’t know what it was. One was enlightened after a radio interviewee was giving instructions on how to clean smegma. Which the guy didn’t know about. If it didn’t change his life, it did change his shower routine.
Secondly, and more importantly, it is not sin!
I was told through written Christian sources that masturbation was selfish, ‘stealing’ from your future/present partner, and would lead to sexual frustration. Ha, the irony.
Churches should talk about it, but from a more informed position. Apparently, the consequential speed of action and shame association that comes from guilt leads to sexual dysfunction in a partnered relationship. The action itself is neutral.
And what is more selfish: demanding sexual release from a tired/sick/___ partner or getting it yourself? Or, not getting release and inflicting your hormonally driven rage on your family?
The only time the Christian literature I read to allowed masturbation was for married women. They were encouraged find out what felt good so that they could tell their naive husbands what to do. Enjoyment of self-pleasure was not part of the equation, it was purely educational and needed be done only once, maybe twice.
I wish I had been taught:
– what it was (and that you don’t need a penis to do it)
– that it is normal and healthy
– that it will not ruin a relationship
– that it helps you sleep and can ease menstrual cramps
Perhaps it wouldn’t have changed my life but I probably would have been a little less grumpy.