So…my English teacher (teacher of English?) is one of those people who made it a criminal offense to start a sentence, much less a paragraph with ‘so..’. I never understood why. The thing is—from a writer’s point of view—is that you can use that word only once (maybe twice if you’re clever about it). But I have always been a rebel. So, (See, that’s how you use it twice) I did what I wanted.
So (oops I did it again) forgive my impertinence, but… er… do you masturbate too much? You know, ‘kunyonga monkey,’ that solitary sexual activity that is widely practiced but little discussed? I like going straight to the point because mambo ni mengi.
For the record, by ‘you’ I am talking to the men—or anyone with a penis—not an actual real-life monkey. I am not familiar with how female masturbation works (I had been sent home for school fees during that lesson). (Un)fortunately for my generation, titillation and porn is everywhere in our hyper-sexed culture. It’s like the thing that is always on, so the question is rendered absurd, like asking if you blink to excess, or are extra cautious in tao.
You must understand then that today there will be some lewd inappropriate jokes forthcoming in the next few paragraphs, and by virtue of your continued reading, consent is implied.
I bring this up (oh oh) because I get confessions in my email, and I am in a Kenyan NoFap Reddit group (“fapping” = internet slang for masturbation, don’t ask me why)—and also because being a man, I know our members down there determine a lot of our self-esteem up here.
But first a quick story (quickie? I warned you). A couple of Saturdays ago, I was riding (a bicycle) along Nyerere Rd just about to join Processional Way when right there, smack in the middle of the road was a youngish man, shirtless, and fondling his gonads. I love me a good spectacle and so I disengaged the gear and almost knocked myself down, curious to see why this man was masturbating. I figured maybe he was drugged but then again isn’t this what we do all the time? Make excuses for people?
I know the ladies can confess to the number of times men have masturbated in public transport vehicles in front of them. And while this may be amusing to some men, I can only imagine the horrors it can impact on captive audiences.
In case you can’t tell, I am not exactly a doctor so I won’t go ahead and disparage or encourage masturbation. When I started my dating life in Nairobi, cognizant of the fact that ladies on social media shame the one-minute men and less, (speed kills they say) I was told that to last longer, and for rock-solid results, I should you know, rub a quick one out. It’s not advise I’d pass to my younger brothers because there is always that time you will go on a date and if your tongue drips honey, you end up with her in bed on the same night. Your real record will eventually tell on you and you don’t want her questioning what happened to the stallion you promised her. “This is a country of broken promises!” doesn’t cut it as an excuse either.
Why I am particularly touchy on this issue is because I know how easy it is to get hooked on masturbation. I liken masturbation to alcoholism. And I have a feeling that a dark room for a masturbater is like a bar for an alcoholic. The recidivism rate is usually too high because it is a cheap thrill. It can easily become a replacement for consensual sex with your partners just like alcohol is the easy substitute for fun in our woe-be-gone country.
Now when women ask me what I think about masturbation, I observe how smoothly the words leave my lips. I don’t even blush. “Wow,” my conscience accuses me, “you’ve changed.” Even broaching the topic without euphemisms in a mainstream media outlet such as this one would have been unthinkable before the digital age.
There is nothing new under the sun. I mean just ask the priests. Intelligence has it that priest cassocks have rear-facing pockets at hip height so as to discourage priests from playing with themselves. It seems the church had a spiritual awakening, implementing measures to discourage its clergy from flogging the Bishop. Even the Holy Book itself takes a swipe against vigorous self-love, Exhibit A, Onan spilling his seed in Genesis 38:6-10. The Messiah himself, Jesus says that if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away as it is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell (where this leaves the left-handed or ambidextrous onanist remains hazy.)
It’s easy for me to sit here and preach hell and brimstone against masturbation, because that is the gospel that I was indoctrinated in, the Kool-Aid that has nourished the flowers of my youth.
Youth, by the way, are having less sex than ever. My generation is “sex positive” thus quite (and quiet) at home with pornography. Is having less sex good? Siloed in their rooms with their phones and confronted with an endless stream of sexualized content and pornography, it’s adios to actual real world human connections and/or bodily intimacy with other humans. Sex has swiftly shifted to become a me-me ploy: it’s about me and my desires, my satisfaction, my kink, my fetish, me, me, me. Gary Wilson, an anatomist and physiologist, in his lecture series, “Your Brain on Porn,” claims, among other things, that porn conditions men to want constant variety—an endless set of images and fantasies—and requires them to experience increasingly heightened stimuli to feel aroused.
I am no guru on self-pleasure—although I make some wicked, bawdy goat meat, my kind of self-love—but here’s what I think: vices are terrible in the long run. Masturbating for a year may not raise eyebrows, but if you look at it in 10 years, then suddenly it’s an issue. Our shadows are our alternate realities. Maybe some get off on masturbation to get to sleep, maybe it is because you are horny, heck maybe it’s because you are lonely and your little man down there wants some attention. Instead of confronting reality, you descend into this sort of silver bullet la-la land, only shooting blanks at the problem.
The internet now is a goldmine—or landmine—of pictures that we used to get only in pesky magazines. But this isn’t a pathway to a higher plateau of internal fulfillment, it’s a path to porn addiction. Porn is like potato chips. They may taste good, but will never fully nourish you and is not sustainable as a diet. Sex without intimacy is just empty calories.
By Jove, I declare a jihad on porn and decree strangling the fowl as a foul. It’s time to look beyond your right (or left) hand to other options.
You are probably wondering, ‘Have I rubbed a quick one out in a moment of extreme volatility?’ Fair question. Well, I cannot possibly tell you that on a national paper. My pastor (and mother, and soon-to-be mother-in-law) read this!
I’ll tell you this however, there is a gossamer fine line between self-pleasure and self-abuse. And in a culture where time is money, spilling your seed really is a waste. Maybe actually go out there and find a partner? Rain shouldn’t be the only thing getting stuff wet. So, men, take the bullets out of the gun. Spare the monkey. It’s time to take matters into your own hands. You know what I mean.