Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Masks We Wear

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Yesterday, I wrote about how certain people in the gay community have strict types, how they automatically reject those who don’t fit their type, and how ageism, sexism, and racism have become a part of the gay community. I find it ridiculous how as a community we reject those who don’t conform to our expectations, and this goes beyond just the gay community but to humanity as a whole. I also mentioned the “bromo” type. Coop wrote this in his comment, and I wanted to share it with those of you who might not have read the comments:

There are a lot of talking heads out in the gay community who like to chide gay men for acting too straight or (allegedly) trying to downplay the fact that they are gay by saying that they are straight acting. My first thought when I read the word “bromo” in this post was that somewhere some know-it-all will have a problem with that designation/group/ whatever you want to call it.

The thing is that we all have our prejudices, no matter how hard we work against them. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. When we chide each other for being too “straight-acting” or too “flamboyant,” we cheapen ourselves as a community. Those of us who are closeted know that we must appear straight or the rumors that you’re gay fly around like a bat out of hell. I have several close friends here and away from here who know I am gay. I even have many who suspect that I am gay, but never say so. I have different ways of acting around different people. I keep up appearances, which is part of the deception of being in the closet. I don’t like it, but it’s reality.

The point I’m trying to make is that we are all unique. Some of us are naturally flamboyant, while others may be more “straight acting” or just a “good ol’ boy” or however you want to put it. I dare not say normal because what’s normal for me is not necessarily normal for you. With that said, we all have it in us to show different personalities to different people. For all things there is a time and place. Sometimes, I can be flamboyant when I want to be, and sometimes I’m not and do my best to blend into my surroundings. It’s according to the situation. I think all gay men have it in them to be flamboyant. Sometimes it just comes out in us. I have to catch myself to keep from calling everyone “honey” or saying something is “fabulous.” I often say instead that something is “fantastic” but that can sound just as flamboyant as fabulous at times.

Anyone who says they are completely straight-acting is being ridiculous. There is nothing straight-acting about giving a blowjob unless you’re a woman. Therefore, I understand the gay pundits who rail against those who call themselves straight-acting, but I also understand why someone can describe themselves as straight-acting. No matter how much we hate labels, they are often useful.

So no matter what mask you wear, I urge you and myself to be ourselves more. We can still wear the masks that hide our sexuality, but if we hide who we truly are then we lose ourselves.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


Nothing…

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They used to say that the show “Seinfeld” was a show about nothing, and I think this post is too. I racked my brain to come up with a topic. I tried and tried and tried, and nothing came to me. So I decided to just write a post of randomness and nothingness. I know there is something that I could write about, but it just don’t know what it is. Sometimes you just have writers block. Often the best thing for that is a stream of consciousness, where you just write whatever comes in your head.

The other night I was thinking about how for gay men like me, who are 35 years old or older, seem so old to so many. And I will be 36 a month from today. I got to thinking about this as I was reading tweets of people I follow on Twitter. I had set up a Twitter account (@closetprofessor) a few months ago. In the past week or so, I’ve gotten some direct messages (DMs) from several younger guys. All of them were between 20 and 23. Each of them were nice and very flirty, then the question comes, “How old are you?” I answer honestly. I really detest lying, and I hate that I often have to do so to keep in the closet. I just don’t see the use in lying to someone who is a Twitter follower. So I tell them I’m 35. I had one tell me that age didn’t matter, and for the most part I believe him, and we continue to chat off and on. Another one said, “I like older guys, but 35 is at the top of my range.”

For me this is one of the problems with many guys in the gay community. Now, I wasn’t expecting or really even hoping for a romantic relationship with any of these guys. However, it never hurts to flirt a little. A lot of young gay guys are wrapped up in pop culture and it’s hard to relate, but find a gay guy who likes to talk football or even have an intellectual conversation with is not something you find everyday. Then you find someone like hat, and I honestly don’t care about their age. Age is just a number to me. It doesn’t matter how young or old you are, especially when I enjoy talking to you.

If you get passed an age difference, then you have to contend with those guys who want the perfect looking and acting gay guy. There’s a whole subset of southern gay guys who are looking for the “bromo” type. Urban Dictionary defines a bromo as:

Dudes that happen to be gay, but aren’t flamboyant at all. Prefer to go drink beer at a buddy’s place, rather than go to the gay bar and pay for overpriced cocktails and listen to bouncy, campy club songs. A bromo is not conceited in his looks, but is still put together decently, groomed but not over plucked.

Basically, the bromo type is the bow tie wearing southern gay frat dude, at least that’s what you get if you look at “bromos” on Twitter. Bromos might not be conceited about their looks, but they have “their” standards.

So, you get past the age and looks, then it goes to race. As a southerner, interracial dating is something I’ve always been told was taboo. Honestly though, does it matter the color of a person’s skin? Not to me it doesn’t. The diversity of the gay community is represented in the rainbow flag. We are a diverse group, and we should embrace that diversity. We often claim that if two people love each other, then the sex of the people should not matter. How can we justify that logic when we say that a persons age, looks, or race makes the difference?

The main thing for me is not the age, race, or looks, but what kind of person he is. Is he kind, thoughtful, and loving? Can he carry on a conversation? Is he intimidated by intelligence (I prefer they not be)? Does he enjoy the same things I enjoy? Does he like to cuddle? Is he a good kisser? There are so many things to consider that age, race, and looks take a backseat.

All of this however is a hypothetical stream of consciousness. I’ve never found a boyfriend, nor is there anyone in my sights. It’s quite possible, that I will never find someone. Then again, I might meet someone tomorrow. We never know.

I thought about deleting the first paragraph about nothingness, but then again you may read this and still think it is about nothing. If that be the case, so be it. I just sat down and started writing and this is the post that came out. And sense I have no answers to my thoughts o. These issues, then maybe it is a post about nothing.


Follow Your Arrow

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“Follow Your Arrow”
Kacey Musgraves

If you save yourself for marriage
You’re a bore
If you don’t save yourself for marriage
You’re a horr…ible person
If you won’t have a drink
Then you’re a prude
But they’ll call you a drunk
As soon as you down the first one

If you can’t lose the weight
Then you’re just fat
But if you lose too much
Then you’re on crack
You’re damned if you do
And you’re damned if you don’t
So you might as well just do
Whatever you want
So

Make lots of noise
Kiss lots of boys
Or kiss lots of girls
If that’s something you’re into
When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint, or don’t
Just follow your arrow
Wherever it points, yeah
Follow your arrow
Wherever it points

If you don’t go to church
You’ll go to hell
If you’re the first one
On the front row
You’re self-righteous
Son of a-
Can’t win for losing
You’ll just disappoint ’em
Just ’cause you can’t beat ’em
Don’t mean you should join ’em

So make lots of noise
Kiss lots of boys
Or kiss lots of girls
If that’s something you’re into
When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint, or don’t
Just follow your arrow
Wherever it points, yeah
Follow your arrow
Wherever it points

Say what you think
Love who you love
‘Cause you just get
So many trips ’round the sun
Yeah, you only
Only live once

So make lots of noise
Kiss lots of boys
Or kiss lots of girls
If that’s what you’re into
When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint, I would
And follow your arrow
Wherever it points, yeah
Follow your arrow
Wherever it points

Sometimes a song really resonates with me and as I thing music should be it is also beautiful poetry. I came across this song as a free download from my Starbucks app. One listen, and I was hooked. After listening to “Follow Your Arrow” from Musgraves’ Same Trailer Different Park! the Nashville-based singer-songwriter’s first album for Mercury Records, it’s clear that this is a girl who has something to say. A true language artist, Kacey nimbly spins webs of words to create the quirky puns, shrewd metaphors, and steely ironies that fill the record.

On “Follow Your Arrow,” she points out the hypocrisies that society imposes on even the most conservative among us (If you save yourself for marriage you’re a bore/If you don’t save yourself for marriage you’re a horr…ible person) which she balances with a chorus that preaches throwing caution and propriety to the wind: (Make lots of noise/Kiss lots of boys/Or kiss lots of girls if that’s something your into/When the straight and narrow gets a little too straight/Roll up a joint/Or don’t/Follow your arrow wherever it points.) Her message is clear: Be yourself and be happy.

Here’s the song if your interested in listening:

http://vimeo.com/60697460


Kilted

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After a whirlwind week at school, I took off to visit a friend of mine in Louisiana for a Halloween party. It’s a long drive just for the weekend and a party, but I’ve been promising that I would go for several years now and circumstances always prevented it. I used to host this particular Halloween party before I moved from Mississippi, so I almost feel obligated to go. It’s not like it’s the only time I get to see her. I went down for her wedding last January, and I will be joining her and some of her family and friends for a cruise this January.

Anyway, my costume this year was my kilt. Of course, I wore it the right way, with nothing on underneath (it was not as elaborate an outfit as the one above, but really just a cheap costume). It’s always fun to wear this particular costume. There were some great costumes at the party, including a young lady in bra and panties with a sledge hammer dressed as Miley Cyrus. It was a really fun party, though I probably drank a bit too much witches brew.

Anyway, I hope that things will settle down some this week, and I can answer some emails from readers of this blog. I’ve been neglecting answering emails, and now it is time that I catch up. So, if you’ve emailed me in the last week or so, I will, hopefully, get back to you in the next 24-48 hours.


God’s Infinite Love

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“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
Matthew 7:15-20

The president of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality made some shocking claims this week about practicing Christians who have decided to embrace lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals: you’re doing the work of the devil.

Appearing on “Crosstalk” for a show titled “Same-Sex Marriage Tsunami,” Peter LaBarbera informed host Vic Eliason that Christians embracing LGBT-identifying individuals are engaged in an “insidious lie… straight from Satan’s talking points.”

These kind of statements are precisely what is wrong with Christianity in America. Peter LaBarbera and others like him bear bad fruit. They are drawing Christians away from the love of Christ and only teaching about hate. It is sad and frustrating that they have so little regard for God. The truth is that God is love, and the devil is hate. Therefore, if you preach hate then you preach for the devil.

Mr. LaBarbera has it wrong, it is not the accepting Christians who are “doing the work of the devil,” it is the men who preach hate who are “doing the work of the devil.” They are the false prophets and are the devils tools who use their pulpits to spread hate. How can someone who is a Christian claim that God hates? God is all that is good and positive. God may be disappointed in us when we go against his will and do not ask for forgiveness, but he never hates us. God loves each and every one of us for who we are.


Moment of Zen: Masturbation

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With the posts this week, I think it’s only fitting that my “Moment of Zen” this week be dedicated to masturbation.


Arguing with Henry Longfellow

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The title of this post is one of the best euphemisms for masturbation that I have ever seen. I knew this would have to be a quickie because I left my computer at school by accident, so I’m typing this post on my iPhone. By the way, iPhones are great for porn, LOL. You can lay in bed, watch a video while holding the iPhone in one hand, and using the other to “argue with Henry Longfellow.” I hope that all of my readers have enjoyed my week-long series of posts about masturbation.

So considering the title of this post: What is your favorite euphemism for masturbation?


The Pros and the Cons of Porn

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I’ll admit I’ve indulged in porn (magazines/videos/Internet) ever since I reached puberty and discovered where Dad hid his stash. I’d sneak a look at my father’s magazines and VCR tapes (which sadly enough, were all straight porn). Then again, what would you really expect from your Dad? It was watching that first porn that I discovered how to masturbate, and when I came, it freaked me out. I had not idea what had happened, but I knew I liked it. I remember my penis seeming to be puffy afterwards. Do you remember your first experience masturbating?

This post is not about my first time masturbating, but about the pros and cons of pornography. I began to think more about this as I have written this week’s posts, but especially because of Adon’s comment on my Sunday post:

I hear a lot from many sources of what a “problem” porn is. Is it a problem? Personally I see no harm in it except the guilt and shame that many people of faith connect to it.

So I decide to write about my experience with porn and a bit about its pros and cons. I’d check out the guys in magazines and videos and imagine what it’d be like for me to be with these guys. More importantly, what it would be like to snuggle up next to them at the end of the day, to fall gently off to sleep with my arms wrapped around one or resting safely and peacefully in the guy’s own arms. I’ve always wanted a strong man to wrap me up in his arms and make me the comfort that comes with that. Such was my “release from my real life”; one that just didn’t fit in with the dreams and hopes I had for myself. It was the only thing I felt I could do to create some version of the future I wanted; it wasn’t real but it was at least more in line with what I was feeling as a post-pubescent teenager and later on, as a young man, even though I did not yet understand that I was gay.

I grew up in a small rural town. I didn’t know any gay people, and nothing was ever said nicely about the ones they mentioned. It was a scary feeling. I remember looking at International Male and Undergear catalogs, not to mention the underwear section of the Sears Wishbook, my true wish had nothing to do with all of the other goodies in the catalog. When my mother questioned me, three or four times between ages 18 and 22, I denied that I was gay. Finally, when I was about 23, she confronted me about it again, and I admitted to her that I was gay. The aftermath was not pretty, but again, I’m off subject.

With regards to porn, I began my journey along that road somewhere along about 12-to-14 years of age. It was likely to have been when my testosterone kicked in and I began masturbating every chance I got. I couldn’t steal my dad’s porn, but I do remember having the movie “Bachelor Party” on VHS and really enjoying the scenes when the women went to see the male strippers.

But, what effect did watching porn have on me, as a teen and as an adult? For instance, I sometimes wonder if there’s an upside to looking at or watching porn and likewise, I wonder if there’s a downside (a real danger to indulging in the practice). For me it was a question of getting caught and feeling guilt of a religious nature. It isn’t about going to Heaven or Hell, yet more of was certain bad things that were happening in my life were because I indulged in porn. Was God punishing me? Through a lot of prayer and meditation, the same technique I used to come to terms with my homosexuality, I came to the decision to believe what my preacher had always preached: God does not punish us for sins in this life, but in the next. Read my post from Sunday to understand my full stance on the issue of the porn and sin.

I can say that when I first began looking at porn it was all about escaping the “traditional” reality that was expected of me in the face of the very “non-traditional” existence I believed/believe I was meant to live. Though I also understood that porn was a fantasy. Men that good-looking and well-endowed rarely existed in the real world. The real question, I suppose is just how much are someone chooses to FOCUS on pornography? Are those fantasies (while indulging in porn) preventing you from keeping your feet firmly planted in the real world? Are you spending so much time “living a fantasy life, through porn” that your own REAL life is passing by, unnoticed and unappreciated?

So I turned to porn when I became horny, or sometimes stressed, and I would watch a video or look at pictures, masturbate and then I felt better. However, it never ruled my life. I never allowed it to do so.

Most of us know that porn is a cheap imitation of the real thing. Real sex can be wonderful, and is most of the time, though sex is not always good. Sometimes we need the fantasy of porn, where the sex always looks perfect. The reality of porn is that the actors work very hard (no pun intended) and have long days. Porn actors constantly discuss in interviews that it is never as easy as it looks. However, some do porn because they want to give others pleasure; most do porn for the money. We usually don’t know what particularly the need the money for: college, a car, debts, drugs, etc. I tend to dislike the studios who are known to prey on drug addicts. When there is a vinous drug abuse, it’s a major turn off to me.

So what effect does watching porn have on your life?

Porn is a controversial subject. Some people feel that pornography damages society or is unhealthy, others believe it may actually be beneficial. Many studies have been done on the effects of porn, for example, whether it causes increased violence against women (it doesn’t) or leads to unrealistic expectations (it can in certain people). This is a discussion about the ways porn is good or bad, and the situations in which it can be beneficial or harmful.

The easy access afforded by the massive boom in online porn led many of us to our first experiences with it at a young and curious age. It showed us what a naked body looks like up close and what sex actually is. It introduced us to a world of sex acts, kinks, and fetishes, some of it beyond our imaginations. As we moved beyond curiosity, it provided us a tool to help with arousal and masturbation. Visual stimulation can be very sexually arousing of itself, and it saves you from having to do the fantasizing on your own.

For the majority of people, there is nothing wrong with porn. With experience, most of us learn that sex isn’t always or even usually like it’s portrayed in porn. Every naked body looks different, we don’t all react and respond in the same ways, we choose which sexual acts we enjoy taking part in, and we learn that each interaction and partner differs from the last.

It is important to realize that porn is not reality. It uses actors and it follows a script. Yes, some porn is more realistic than others, and amateur porn or videos shot by good quality production companies can seem very realistic, but most pornography depicts something very different from the sex you would have with a partner. If most of your exposure to sexuality has been from from the scenes you’ve seen in porn, it may be a letdown when you finally get a chance to have sex with someone if you’ve let that shape your expectations.

For this reason, experts in the field are stressing how important it is for parents to talk to their kids about porn, especially if they know their child is watching it. There is a drive for it to be part of high school sex-education curriculum, but anti-porn activists are fighting to prevent this from being discussed in classrooms. As long as we understand the realities of porn, I don’t see a problem with it as long as it has it’s proper place in our sexual explorations.

Some people, especially those with a history of problems with addiction, can become addicted to porn. If your porn watching negatively affects your life, you may have a problem. If you cancel or miss plans with others, fall behind in work because of porn, or anything else like that, it’s a problem. If your porn habit prevents you from being sexually intimate with your partner, that’s a problem too.

Masturbation, with or without porn, is a normal and healthy activity even when you’re in a relationship, but if you’d rather watch porn than be sexual with a partner, you should evaluate the situation. Have you lost your attraction for your partner, or do you have a pornography addiction problem?

If the porn you watch makes you uncomfortable (due to its subject matter) or if it’s leading you to act differently with your partner(s), it may be a good idea to switch up the porn you’re watching or even take a short break from porn altogether.

Porn should be a positive and healthy experience that provides an escape from reality, gets you aroused and ready for sexual stimulation, and can give you ideas to incorporate into your personal sex life. If you remember that it isn’t reality and that your partner still likes you, there should be no negative effects of watching porn.

 

PS.  THE GUY IN THE PHOTO LOOKS AMAZINGLY LIKE THE GUY I HAD A CRUSH ON IN HIGH SCHOOL WHO WAS MY MOST OFTEN MASTURBATORY FANTASY IN MY TEEN YEARS.


Punishments For Masturbation Throughout History

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The practice of punishing the perpetrator of the act of masturbation is one that can be traced in documented form to the time of the Roman Empire.

The matriarchal society that was a feature of Roman life, tended to view male masturbation as an unwelcome, undesirable act, directly affecting procreation, so important to the future of the Empire.

During the first century AD, Christianity defined the act as a ‘Mortal Sin’ and the spread of Christianity brought with it the firm belief that self-abuse should be strongly discouraged in a Christian household. Even today the Catholic Church still categorises self-abuse as a ‘venal and mortal sin’.

Archbishop Borders of Baltimore, in his 1987 pastoral, ‘On Human Sexuality’, writes ‘Authentic human sexuality should open one to another in a deep and abiding relationship. It is neither unitive (sic.) nor procreative, and is merely sexual actuation with very little true sexual meaning’.

In 1992 Father Mateo wrote on the Internet: ‘In itself, masturbation is a mortal sin because it negates the whole purpose of our most sacred powers, the power to fashion family and procreate human life.’

That then is the view of God and the punishments distributed by Priests throughout history have been many and varied. In Ireland boys were regularly caned and whipped in addition to more normal religious impositions. Irish parents thrashed their male offspring when evidence of self-abuse was discovered, and the same scenario is echoed through many other countries of the Catholic world. What emerges from this investigation is the surprising fact that punishments for masturbation have changed very little over the years and, moreover, that it has been predominantly the female in the household who has been more tasked to seek out and deal with the male self-abuser.

Punishment for self-abuse was at its height during the Victorian era and much of it was delivered by the Nanny, Governess or indeed by other female members of the household staff. In most cases the females were spinsters of mature age and the possibility of their being somewhat disenchanted or even unaware of sexual pleasures, only serves to explain their particular preference in dealing with young male abusers in their charge, by means of potions, restraints and canes. In public schools of the time masturbation was not condoned and discovery of an offender would earn him a severe thrashing as described by an author of the time, Edward Whittaker in his ‘Memoirs of an Eton Housemaster’; “Use of the cane and birch was widespread and the cane was administered by both Staff and Prefects. Offences were the usual acts of high-spirited boys, which led to class or dormitory disruption, lack of hygiene, failure to meet academic standards and general disobedience. These would be promptly and properly punished with a number of strokes from the cane on the tight trousers of the bending boy. The birch was reserved for more serious offences such as stealing or self-abuse, and was administered on the bare backside of the unfortunate pupil, as he lay firmly secured across the birching block. Only the Headmaster flogged with this implement, which was harsh in the extreme!

The most common punishments for this ‘crime’ throughout history were physical denial by various means and flagellation. As remarked on before, more often than not, this was administered by a female to a male in the first flush of puberty. I’m not going to dwell on the psychological damage that was often inflicted as a result of this situation, suffice to say there are many females who are grateful for the fact that it did.

References to the punishment of masturbation prior to the 18th century are few and far between. It may be assumed that in the Middle Ages, Jacobean and Elizabethan eras, a more liberal attitude was adopted by a society which regarded such activities as normal, however it is also true that males were far more likely to be experiencing full heterosexual intercourse often from the tender ages of nine years old. There are many accounts of royal marriages being arranged for couples barely in their teens. In addition the Reformation of Tudor times destroyed the Catholic teachings and spread a somewhat barren moral wasteland before the confused and increasingly apathetic population.

The earliest reference to the use of punishment to deter the masturbator can be found in an account of the Roman household by Peter Moorview in his book, ‘The Roman Citizen’, a factual description of domestic life at the time of the Roman Empire. According to the author, many of the young male slaves had their penis ringed with iron or their urethra pierced to discourage erections and to avoid the possibility of them attempting rape. Other male slaves found they were obliged to carry out ‘bedroom duties’ (sic) as well as their normal domestic chores within the house:

The frequent absence of the Master of the house, (eg. in the case of military personnel), often led to illicit and furtive sexual activity between slave and Mistress and in order to ensure confidentiality, slaves were subjected to the most horrendous acts of cruelty to ensure their obedience and silence. Well-endowed and virile young slaves were much in demand and were available at public auctions to privileged sections of Roman society. Slaves purchased solely for the purpose of providing sexual gratification for their Mistress often had their genitalia permanently restrained within purpose made metal chastity belts to prevent unauthorised masturbation. Those free to masturbate would face a severe flogging with a rod if discovered and subsequently their genitals would be bound in bandages soaked in a mixture of herbs and peppers, which inflicted excruciating pain on the treated parts. Persistent offenders were generally discarded and punished by castration and removal of their tongues to ensure their secrets would never be disclosed.

Before 1700, medical references to the harmful effects of masturbation were scarce. In the eighteenth century two works, Contra: or the Heinous Sin of Self-Pollution, and all its frightful sequences, (by an anonymous author) and Samuel Tissot’s Treatise on the Diseases Produced by Onanism introduced concepts that a certain Sylvester Graham adopted and helped to popularize.

Tissot’s claim that loss of semen under any condition caused health hazards spread rapidly throughout the world’s medical profession and Graham’s Lecture to Young Men (1834) was the first of its kind and launched a whole genre of medical tracts on masturbation, known then as ‘self-abuse’ or ‘self-pollution’. In America, where he lectured, a peculiar flowering of myths involving masturbation took place during the 19th century. The predictable culprits… Victorian prudery, evangelical Christianity, entrepreneurialism are all part of the picture, and Graham, knowing his audience, and with a solid grasp of rhetorical devices made claims that no one could disprove. Or rather, would disprove. According to Graham a masturbator grows up ‘with a body full of disease, and with a mind in ruins, the loathsome habit still tyrannising over him, with the inexorable imperiousness of a fiend of darkness.’

Hardly surprising then that fond parents, Nannies, and Governess’, the world over, felt justified in meting out the most horrific punishments to save their charges from the devastating medical prognoses, and the hell-fire that lay ahead for the unfortunate self-abuser when he was finally laid to rest! Thus, the scene was set for the next 100 years or so…. ‘Punish or He’s Damned! …. was to be the cry.

Treatments for self-abuse, both physical and dietary abounded. Dr John Harvey Kellog, (brother of the founder of the Kellog’s Corn Flakes Company) suggested: ‘A remedy which is almost always effective in small boys is circumcision…. the operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anaesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind…. In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement…’ the chance of disease and death’.

General medical opinion weighed in with their recipe for healthy minds and bodies. Sexual moderation (no more than 12 times a year for married couples), exercise (to help prevent nocturnal emissions), no masturbation and a proper diet (to facilitate free peristaltic action of the bowels).

Masturbation led to madness and nocturnal emissions probably would as well. Spermatorrhoea was recognised as a disease, causing complete lack of energy and exhaustion. Rapid dissemination of these theories on the dangers of self-abuse among the upper and middle class citizens of Great Britain in particular during the 19th century led to an explosion in the sale of implements of correction, chastity devices, potions and lotions and increased demand for the services of Governess’ and Nannies to provide 24 hour observation of their charges and to provide the necessary moral guidance, physical treatment, and punishment that would be needed to educate their children and save them from a fate worse than death.

The Governess or Nanny used a wide variety of what we today would consider torture devices as punishment. Some people may still consider masturbation to be a sin, but at least boys are not punished in this way in this day and time. Submissive/masochistic men may allow someone to restrain them from masturbation (a wide variety of male chastity devices exist) or allow themselves to be punished for masturbation, but they have that choice and usually derive pleasure from the experience. However, young boys in the past must have been terrified of leaving evidence of masturbation or even nocturnal emissions, which they had no control over.


Ode to Masturbation

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Ode to Masturbation
By Ocean Vuong

Pearled semen trickles from vessel
as the silence of possibilities dries
on the floor and inside my palm.

Even now, as the body trembles
from the pleasure of its making,
somewhere, a plane
is pregnant with death.

When starlight sparkling
on the surface of falling bombs
and flames turn muscle
into pompous, skin into ash,

the sound of a scream in mid-death,
straining to push the weight
of last words, can you blame the hand
for craving the softest parts?

Reach down, there is music
in the body, play yourself
like a lyre, insert the finger
into sanctum, feel
the quivering of crevices, skin
palpitating ripples as if stretched
over drumbeats.

Reach down. Let explosions be muted
by climaxes, the Holy Water
between your thighs flow
into rivulets of cleansing,
let it rinse the soil of drying blood.
Reach down, there is music
in the cunt, the cock,
the asshole. Grab your balls—
that grenade of white flowers.

Reach down as fathers destroy the sons
and daughters of other fathers,
as faces emerge from wombs
and exiled into memory.
Reach down as a thousand I love you’s
fail to reach the man caressing
the trigger’s black tongue.

Because even now, in a city shimmering
from shards of broken halos,
we are not holy, only beautiful.
Because even now as I kneel to wipe
this cooling pool of sperm,

down the hall—a man
is beating madness into a child’s skull,
and not once will I ask
my unborn children
to forgive
this hand.

20131021-202130.jpg

Born in 1988 in Saigon, Vietnam, Ocean Vuong was raised by women (a single mother, aunts, and a grandmother) in housing projects throughout Hartford, Connecticut and received his B.A. in English Literature from Brooklyn College.

He is the author of two chapbooks: No (YesYes Books, 2013) and Burnings (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2010), which was an American Library Association’s Over The Rainbow selection and has been taught widely in universities, both in America and abroad. A recipient of a 2013 Pushcart Prize, other honors include fellowships from Kundiman, Poets House, and the Saltonstall Foundation For the Arts, as well as an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Connecticut Poetry Society’s Al Savard Award. Poems appear in Denver Quarterly, Quarterly West, Passages North, Guernica, The Normal School, Beloit Poetry Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Best of the Net 2012 and the American Poetry Review, which awarded him the 2012 Stanley Kunitz Prize. Work has also been translated into Hindi, Korean, Vietnamese, and Russian.


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