The relief of May ending 85



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I don’t know about you but I’m glad that May is over. In fact, it has come as a relief – in a manner of speaking.

Some – the more delicate and genteel – might not have been aware that May was International Masturbation Month. Let’s face it, it’s not the sort of thing decent respectable people want waved in front of their faces.

May has been appropriated by a US sex site Good Vibrations for the celebration of the solitary vice. It’s not an official United Nations celebration – well, not yet anyhow although it could be only a matter of time given that this outfit is considered by many to be a bunch of wankers.

Now, ask yourself: if May is the official celebration of self-abuse, what do the lonely, the ugly and the downright anti-social do for the other eleven months? Anyhow, that’s not my problem any more than it is yours since we are all in healthy, sharing and caring relationships.

A bit of background.

Good Vibrations came up with this disgusting celebration back in 1994 when US President Clinton fired the Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders. On World Aids Day that year she was asked if promoting masturbation might discourage school-aged children from riskier sexual activity. She agreed, noting that children should be taught that masturbation is a natural part of human sexuality and respectable people quite properly went off their trees.

Already outraged by her views about abortion and drugs, they construed her comments as meaning that masturbation should be taught in schools. She had to go.

Four years later in 1998, the Monica Lewinsky scandal erupted and Clinton famously – and falsely – declared, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”When Lewinsky’s semen-stained blue dress with its tell-tale DNA was produced, Clinton was forced to admit an “improper sexual relationship”.

I don’t know if Clinton had his urges especially strongly during the month of May. Did he, for example, on each and every day in May buzz his outer office and ask Ms Lewinsky to pop by to take dictation? We will never know but what we do know is that he is not the Patron of International Masturbation Month, probably because he hasn’t been asked. Or his wife won’t let him.

It seems that something called the Twittersphere – I understand a so-called social media thing for people who don’t have real friends – voted the tune “I touch myself” by The Divinyls as the best song to celebrate the month. If I had been asked, I would have gone for “Pump It Up” by Elvis Costello and The Attractions but, then again, I don’t Twitter any more than I mastu..abuse myself.

The popularity – well, at least the popular acceptance of masturbation – has waxed and waned over the years.

The ancient Egyptians believed that their creator god Atum actually masturbated the universe into existence. I did wonder if this was the origin of the big bang theory until a worldly-wise chum pointed out that in common parlance a “bang” suggests more or less consensual relations and not a lonely act of desperation and frustration.

Slowly but certainly, masturbation was seen as the vile, awful thing that it really is.

One 18th century pamphlet, based on the best available medical evidence, was entitled, “Onania, of the Heinous Sin of Self-Pollution, And All Its Frightful Consequences In Both Sexes, Considered: With Spiritual and Physical Advice To Those Who Have Already Injured Themselves By This Abominable Practice”.

You have to wonder why it wasn’t reprinted prior to May for wide distribution.

Mind you, some brave, caring and responsible people over the years have kept this flame burning. One notable campaigner was the 19th century medico Dr John Harvey Kellogg.

Dr Kellogg once observed that, “If illicit commerce of the sexes is a heinous sin, self pollution is a crime doubly abominable”. With his brother W K Kellogg, he produced in 1898 the ultimate libido-suppressing remedy which they called Corn Flakes.

Kellogg’s website to this very day proudly boasts that their nutritional product is still the “original cereal” and that “We’re proudly upholding the values that W. K. Kellogg instilled more than 100 years ago…” The fact that the good Dr Kellogg is expunged from the company’s history is a classic example of whitewashing history.

Their website features an endearing snap of a lovely mother feeding her attractive young kiddies breakfast cereal and these innocents are showing every sign of appreciation. Yet, I can discern from the twinkle in her eye that she is thinking, “That should control your filthy urges for twenty-four hours.” Mother love is expressed in so many ways.

I’ve been told that as you age your libido fades so why Corn Flakes remains standard fare at the Twilight Facility in which my mummy resides is puzzling. To my mind, it’s rubbing their faces in it – in a manner of speaking – and an appallingly disgraceful sense of humour by management.

Russell Grenning

Russell Grenning is a Brisbane-based former journalist and retired political adviser who began his career with the ABC in 1968 in Brisbane and subsequently worked on the Brisbane afternoon daily, "The Telegraph" and later as a columnist for "The Courier Mail" and "The Australian". He worked for a string of senior Ministers in the Federal, Victorian and Queensland Governments as well as in senior executive public relations positions, including Assistant Federal Director, Public Relations, for Australia Post, Public Relations Manager for the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Principal Adviser, Corporate Relations, for the Queensland Law Society.

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