The author. (Photo by Charles Buckley.)
Mark Twain wrote: “ ... of all the various kinds of sexual intercourse, this has the least to recommend it. As an amusement, it is too fleeting; as an occupation, it is too wearing; as a public exhibition, there is no money in it."
Despite Twain’s condemnation of masturbation as barbaric and devoid of inherent value, my first experience with the activity came as something of a revelation to me, in that I had come to understand that in fact the very opposite was true. The wank I wanked was one of individuality, of independence, and of inscrutable curiosity of the world – and what a world it was! - that I had discovered.
Quoted by Twain in the same speech is a testament made by none other than Julius Caesar: “ … to the lonely it is company; to the forsaken it is a friend; to the aged and to the impotent it is a benefactor. They that are penniless are yet rich, in that they still have this majestic diversion.” The statement sheds a light contrary to the delineation of vulgarity and uselessness that is proliferated in by the speaker: onanism represents a myriad of circumstantial applicability. The benefits of the activity are in great abundance and variety, as the rite of passage preceding adulthood and all that comes with it brings with it the reveal of something to every man of this world – something within themselves.
For me, the act served as a process of individuation; specifically, it severed me from the sociopolitical context into which I was born, and broadened my horizons. The aforesaid may be explained through an analysis of a perspective of progression shared by two general ideas: the first pertaining to my newfound connection to the society I lived in, and the second concerning my newfound disconnection from the society I was born into. Both ideas were revealed to me through what became apparent to me to be a wank that held more empirically symbolic value than I had been conditioned to give it credit for.
I was exposed, suddenly, to an entirely new dimension of my body, of my society, of my culture and of my demographic. I was introduced to the prospect of sexual intent and all of its derivative social and psychological implications – the foundation of entire schools of philosophical thought, and a universal denominator common to close to the entirety of the world’s population. The few that adhere to an exemption from such universality were brought into a new perspective for me. Finally, an alternative to that which I had been brainwashed with my entire life had been presented to me – but in that, that which I knew had also been presented to me in a new, much more accurate light. Equate sex to the prospect of deity; how could one possibly grasp an accurate understanding of theism if no preliminary understanding of atheism stood as reference? I had tapped into the enlightenment of the West through this, the blindness of the Middle East. My mind was now engaged with the notion of sex and through it, the intricacies of orientation, drive, appeal and attraction that drive the social aspects of a definitively modern society. My finishing was the bridged the gap between an adolescence of ignorance and oppression and a maturity of consciousness and a transcendental grip on reality. This grip on reality became a mentality of awareness of both my world and how I fit into it. This was a learning experience unparalleled by anything I had ever experienced throughout my life. My mind grew with my member. This was the erection of a maturity far beyond that which was expected of my age.
It was the mentality I tapped into that really enabled my obtainment of a broader perspective. My horizons were blown open in an explosive manner, like the walls of my psyche falling outward, landing flat on the surface and exposing my head’s contents to that of the world it was situated in. Shari’ah law governs the country I was raised in to an authoritarian and oppressive extent. Anything deemed even remotely controversial with respect to the values propagated by the Qur’an (or at least, the relative and statically traditional interpretation of them) was declared unsuitable for public acknowledgement and ultimately was causation for a very common practise of censorship. Pornographic material, for the most part, was, and is still, inaccessible. Though I was too young to really gauge what I was missing while I was there, the fact of the matter is that my personal biological and emotional growth would have been stunted and generally neglected in a destructively conservative manner had I not immigrated. Though I might argue my masturbating to be a means of assimilation into the western cultural norms I had migrated to in 2011, I may similarly argue that this act served as a means of escaping the bubble that the collective mentality propagated by the Islamic regime had encased me in.
Within my old home, and the surrounding areas, the issue of a child’s sexuality is considered to be, well, an issue. Sexual education is lacking in abundance as well as depth. The prospect of a woman’s femininity or individual sexuality is completely disregarded. The culture of sexual liberality is bottled up and shamed, and as a consequence children grow up confused and disoriented with respect to their own mind and their place in the world. As a result, a cultural barrier is imposed between the West and Middle East - and for good reason; the culture of oppression of sexuality has horrifying implications as it manifests itself within a society inclusive of a large-scale oppression of women as individuals and the unaddressed accommodation of rape culture within such societies. That was all I had known. I had no idea there was more to the world.
Moving to Canada amazed me in its contradiction to the only world I had known. A society wherein a liberalised perspective of the human sexuality was addressed with scientific objectivity and freedom of exploration treated women as people in a social and legal context and promoted a healthy conversation about biological and psychosexual maturity that facilitates a similarly healthy transition for the majority of people between prepubescence and adulthood. With information in the place of shame and censorship, I began to develop personally. I learned of a description and community for and ultimately was able to come to terms with a bisexuality I had long since repressed. I learned also of the much larger community of those that affiliate themselves with the greater context of social progression – a prospect made impossible and alien by the close-mindedness of the world I had previously known. I was introduced to a school of thought that challenged quo and tradition, that championed the rights of minorities, that preached altruism for and amongst those that identified as different in any manner at all. This was a new world. This was the first world.
If I had learned anything through an understanding of how comfort in your ways blinds you to the significance of progression, it was that I had no intention of exiting one bubble and entering another. By the time I had come to terms with my displacement, I sought to transcend such labels that define people by their background, and to take the best of the cultures I had been surrounded by. The liberation of my seed paralleled the liberation of my spirit, my soul, and my locus of control. I was free! Free to understand my place in society, and to interpret and take from it that which I pleased. More importantly, however, I begun to understand myself and my place within my world. By stroking myself out of societal restriction I had removed limitations placed on my body, my mind, and ultimately my soul.