After all, May is also Mental Health Awareness Month
Put That Thing Down and Read This Story!
Well, it’s not quite Californication, but it’s close.
May is National Masturbation Month, and, of course, it started right here in the Golden State, at the San Francisco sex co-op Good Vibrations, in fact.
The event was launched in 1995 in response to the firing of then-Surgeon General Jocelyn Elder for her mentioning that maybe masturbation should be part of sex ed curricula. She was fired by – can’t make this up and feel free to insert joke here – Bill Clinton.
“We declared that henceforth, May would be known as National Masturbation Month. (Hey, when you can take charge of your own sexual pleasure, it’s no sweat to invent a holiday.)” reads the store’s website (text mostly okay, but store offerings may be – depending upon where you work – rather NSFW.)
The store prides itself for its sex positivity outlook and is far from a furtive dirty raincoat kind of place located at the end of a freeway off-ramp next to a paint factory across the street from a liquor store that took food stamps and just three doors down from a bus stop (I have no idea why I made that description sooo specific…)
But I digress – again, from the website:
“Good Vibrations is the premiere sex-positive sexual health and wellness toy retailer in the US. Our customers trust us to provide education, high quality products, and information promoting sexual health, pleasure, and empowerment. We are proud of the model we innovated: creating a safe, welcoming, and non-judgmental environment where customers can shop for sex toys and books, as well as attend workshops and inspiring events.”
While serious in its intent, there seems to have clearly been a somewhat lighthearted – tongue-in-cheek, if you will – feel to the event and it is surely merely serendipitous that “Star Wars Day” (today, actually), Towel Day, and Solitaire Day all happen to fall during National Masturbation Month.
Ah, but the best laid plans…as other organizations promoting the month have put their own, more questionable, take on the month.
Pennsylvania’s Planned Parenthood has a program at its Doylestown – a semi-tony exurb north of Philadelphia – branch has a monthly event known as “The Rainbow Room,” which bills itself as “a space where you can just be your authentic self? Somewhere free and open, where you will be accepted for who you are — regardless of who you love or how you identify.”
The weekly Rainbow Room program is for LGBTQ+ (and allies) between the ages of 14 and 21, though the last meeting of each month is open to 12 and 13-year-olds (with parental consent.) For May, the program tweeted the following:
On a personal note, I would not describe myself as a “square,” but I am a bit confused – questioning, to use a more topical term – about the appearance of a watermelon in the image as I’m pretty sure there are other more, um, evocative fruits and vegetables that could have been used.
From confusing to downright unsettling, the team behind the “Puberty: The Wonder Years(PTWY)” 4th, 5th, and 6th grade sex ed curriculum, marked the month with the following image:
Note – the image does not appear (any longer?) on the PTWY Twitter feed, but does come up on their website when you search “masturbation.”
The use of the picture of children to promote National Masturbation Month was widely condemned on-line.
Gays Against Groomers, which first (it seems) posted the image, said on Twitter: “There truly is evil afoot. And it is coming from the same institutions that claim to do good for society,” another commenter asked “Why not to include sex toys in children Letters to Santa?” and a third wondered about the potential parallels to the Aldous Huxley novel “Brave New World,” which postulates a society without families, the laboratory decanting (rather than natural birth) of babies, and the encouragement of “erotic play” amongst children. For the entire thread, see here:
The site, besides describing the lesson plans, also features a blog that specifically discusses this month’s festivities, asking “(D)on’t you agree that it’s time we started talking about it with our children? With May being National Masturbation Month, this is the perfect opportunity to make it a normal part of our conversations about sexual health.”
Maybe it’s more of a perfect opportunity to wonder “What the hell is going on?”
After all, May is also Mental Health Awareness Month.