QQH Designs presents Fetish Friday: Sexy Contraband, Part 1 – A Short History Of Masturbating

Welcome to another Fetish Friday here on Lawyers & Liquor, where we sit down gingerly on our paddled-red asscheeks and examine some aspect at the inter-sex-tion of the law and prurient matters. As always, this post is brought to you be the decidedly family-friendly Quack Quack Honk Designs , an artist that in no way tries to capitalize on the shameful, lustful secrets of our darkened bedrooms but instead goes after the wholesomeness with their art. If you have a moment, go check out the pieces that this wonderful artist has up in their store, or check out where you can catch them peddling their wares in person on their events calendar! Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you before we begin. I need to take a moment to readjust this harness that’s been chafing me all morning anyhow.

Because over the next two Fetish Fridays, we need to talk about why your dildos may be illegal. But first, let’s talk about the history of masturbation! Nowadays, in our hyper-sexualized society epitomised by the popularity of sites like www.porn-hd.xxx, masturbation is, in a sense, everywhere. But it wasn’t always like that…

Sex Toys: Older Than Hitachi

In the past we’ve covered some of the ins and outs, and possible legal pitfalls, surrounding certain kinks and fetishes that we all have. And I mean we all fucking have them. I challenge you to find me anyone in history that didn’t like, at the very least, a thumb popped in their asshole from time to time when they were trying to reach the peak of the mountain, so to speak. It’s undeniable that for the purposes of human nature, the staunchly stoic sexual encounter is the exception, not the rule. Nothing shows this more than when you take a look back in history and realize that human existence has been flooded with evidence of our sexuality and our desire to cater to the experience of feeling good (then feeling slightly ashamed, then turning on Netflix and eating a bowl of ice cream naked on the couch). Shit, examples of phallic stones, ivory carvings, bronze, and even fucking gold phallic objects (allegedly) used for the pleasuring of people have been found which date back as far as 29,000 B.C.E. – which undoubtedly means Grog and Grogina sometimes needed a little alone time to take their mind off the trials of modern cave living. Hell, they found one made of goddamn camel shit.

Camel shit.

My god, that just sort of fills up so many different types of fetishes right there, doesn’t it?

Oh, and this shit isn’t limited to dilos (Dildi? Dildoes? What’s the plural here?). French sailors were known to construct and pass around crude rag dolls during long voyages, which…you know…that sounds like a pretty goddamn unsanitary version of bonding with your shipmates. Did someone have the job to clean that thing off every week our so? If so, was he called the “Semen Swabbie?” If not, I move to literally force historians to begin referring to the sailor whose job it was to clean off the cum ragdoll as the “Semen Swabbie.” It’s only appropriate.

What I’m getting at here is that sex toys, for both genders, have been around as long as there’s been a humanity. From the very beginning of time we, as a race, have been looking to get our rocks off, our eggs scrambled, climb to the mountaintop, and simply do just whatever it takes to see god in the privacy of a solo performance or in conjunction with a willing partner. As a species, we evolved cognitive thought and opposable thumbs and immediately said “I’m gonna make something to fuck” with these unique developments among the animals. Which, you know, also makes me wonder if at some point making dildos was a profession – was there a Ye Olde Cocksmith?

(Note: There totally fucking was a profession of “Cocksmith.” In a series of comic plays by the ancient Greek playwright and poet Herodas called the “Mimes,” two of them – Mime VI and VII – deal with the character of Kerdon, a dildomaker who hides his profession by pretending to make shoes. So, you know, one stop shopping for ancient Greek foot fetishists!)

But, you know, then we hit the modern era and we immediately started to fuck some shit up.

Changing Things: Good Old No-Fap Marten

You know, for a long time there wasn’t that much of a pull to cast pleasuring oneself as a big deal. Most people just shrugged their shoulders and treated it as a normal part of life for centuries of human existence, as, you know, it felt good and didn’t hurt anyone unless they started chafing. However, all that ended somewhere around 1712 when a discredited London “doctor” named John Marten appeared and started screaming that flogging the bishop made baby Jesus sob salty tears. Marten, utilizing the name of Balthazar Bekker (who as a theologian had been instrumental in stopping the witchcraft persecutions but who had been dead for roughly 20 years at that point), published a tract called “Onania, or 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.” Because, you know, anyone will tell you that the first key to success in your writing endeavours is to come up with a short, catchy, and attention-grabbing title for your work.

Marten’s position, purportedly through Bekker, was that the biblical Onan when he decided not to fill up his partner Tamar with some holy love juice, instead using the tried and true method of pulling out (as many Catholics will attest to that being 100% effective, always, no doubt about it) and “spilled his seed upon the ground.” For this grievous sin, God apparently smote the fuck out of Onan for not cumming inside his…get this…sister in law. So, you know, we’re already working from a pretty goddamn rational basis here. Just…just making a hell of a lot of sense. But, you know, on par for what we can expect, I guess? I mean, God also was pretty well set against polyester in those days, if I remember my Old Testament correctly.

Anyhow, Marten published his tract, which is sort of like the pulp zine of the 18th century, in or about 1712 and…I mean, it was a success. The theory behind Marten’s work was pretty straightforward: God condemned Onan for inseminating the ground beneath his feet, and therefore God will strike little Billy down for trying to impregnate a tube sock. That’s the jizz-st of it, at least, although there was some shit in there about how jerking the gherkin means you’re morally and mentally ill and pollutes both the mind and the spirit. Hell, you can read the whole thing if you want to read that old fashioned type that makes every s look like a giant f. A lot of people did, apparently, as the work was translated into 60 goddamn languages so our brethren overseas wouldn’t miss out on the puritan pud protection party a-bubbling up in old London town!

But Marten wasn’t some altruistic, well-meaning crackpot who believed this shit. Marten was a cold-blooded capitalist who, along with his book, shilled out Prolific Powder that was guaranteed to stop people from beating the meat, slicking the highway, and whatever euphemism for spraying down the walls in baby batter you may be able to think of. Oh, and he definitely fucking intended the tract to sell his powders, considering he marketed them together. And, one would assume, he made a pretty penny (or shilling) from his work – which advised people to locate him in a specific pub to buy his cures. Like, seriously. He was like “Jerking off is bad and evil and will kill you! Now come buy mystery powder from me while I get drunk, okay? I know best.” And people fucking bought it.

Thus were the beginnings of the hysteria over the dangers of masturbation and the re-classification of the same to a moral and mental illness that required immediately cutting that shit out. No longer was it a healthy thing to pull the pud, but rather a sign of a degenerate in polite society – a stunning reversal from the centuries of thought prior to this that masturbation was natural and not at all worrisome (like, unless it was done compulsively). Instead, the masturbators amongst us were shoved into the darkness of shame and depravity.

Interestingly enough, it’s worth noting that Onan’s sin, as alluded to earlier, wasn’t actually masturbating. It was fucking his widowed sister-in-law and then not coating the walls in his special brand of whitewash. God struck Onan dead for pulling out. There’s no mention of masturbation in there at all. So, you know, if you’re against condoms and advocate that method as a form of birth control for religious reasons, you’re playing with heavenly fire. Have 29 kids or die, motherfucker.

Consider the Source: The Spread of Anti-Jerking It Sentiment

Marten’s hysteria continued and proliferated, and as is often the case, because accepted as a medical fact in short order. Over the next several decades, much more reputable scientists and physicians picked up on the themes presented in Onania and wrote their own works promoting the concept that mastrubation was not only a moral evil but a physical harm. Among one of those was the noted physician Samuel Auguste Tissot – currently known as the man who laid the foundation for current medicine’s understanding of migraines and other such illnesses and conditions. Tissot wrote a book on the same topic, linking masturbation to gout, rheumatism, nervous disorders…I mean, just all sorts of things other than a fondness for staying in the bathroom too long and the habitual use of only incognito mode on the internet. Tissot’s treatise, L’Onanisme, (link is to an 1832 translation) lent credence to the advertising made by Marten and launched the “disease” of Onanism into the mainstream of both medical and philosophical debate precisely because the source of the work was an already well-respected doctor that presented his work as a scientific and scholarly work (even though today it is widely recognized as having been based largely on conjecture and with no discernable actual scholarly or scientific processes being followed).

As Tissot was widely regarded as a credible source on the subject of shit like, you know, illnesses and medicine, his work had a hell of a lot of impact. How respected was Tissot, you may ask? Well, fucking Napoleon thought his works in general were a credence and benefit to society. Voltaire and Kant, reading his work on the maliciousness of masturbating, revised their own positions to strongly condemn a whole fuckload of teenage boys. Voltaire. Fucking Voltaire, who was famous for his criticism of the absurdity of the Catholic Church and its morality, was convinced to say “Oh yeah, masturbating will definitely fucking kill you” because of Tissot’s work.

You know how this shit happens? One person with credibility spouts some bullshit and we all just accept it because of the source instead of actually looking into the claims made. I’m so glad we don’t live in the dark times when that happened, right? We’ve evolved so much as a society since then, to just randomly believe some weird claim from a source without any real due diligence in looking into the claims they’re making.

Vaccinate your kids.

Oh, and this was the turning point, really. By 1812 the founder of American psychology and, of course, founder of the goddamn country itself, Dr. Benjamin Rush, had declared mastrubation to be a vile illness of the mind. It was treated and considered to be such – a mental disorder that only the deviant devoted themselves to. Numerous other texts and positions of the same followed, many times building off of the work that could trace back to Tissot and, through him, to the Powder Peddling Pub Patron, John Marten. An entire goddamn area of human science and understanding dictated by a drunken quack from a London bar a hundred years earlier, without any real research being performed except that necessary to confirm what, by then, were well-established medical and moral principles.

In fact, it would be over one hundred and ninety fucking years before anyone really sat their asses down and said “Wait, hold up and pass the lube, we need to take a deeper look into this shit.” That came in the form of noted eugenics supporter and physician H. Havelock Ellis which…I mean, how bad is your position overall if the dudes who were big supporters of eugenics are like “Yeah, no, there’s absolutely no scientific merit to your argument whatsoever.”

Sidenote, Ellis also wrote the first study of gay men in general from an objective standpoint (and may have pioneered discussing it as something other than a disease) and was one of the first medical professionals to recognize transgender as simply a classification of people and not a disorder.

Along with, you know, being a world-renowned eugenicist, notorious racist who believed in western supremacy over all other races, and not really seeing anything wrong with fucking kids. Seriously. He was like “oh yeah, and in theory there’s nothing wrong with kid fucking.”

Sort of a mixed bag there.

Too Little, Too Late.

Over the 190 years from the first “serious” discussion of the evils of masturbation and Mr. Problematic Himself up there beginning to debunk all of that, there was time for a lot of damage to take place. For almost two centuries the medical, psychological, and philosophical leaders of the Western world had been banging on the drum and telling you not to bang on yours. And that shit had bled over into society as a whole as being not only immoral, but unacceptable and proof of disease, a purely prurient matter that served no benefit and actually caused a net harm to the world as a whole.

So pervasive was this attitude in the world of the 19th and early 20th century, and so widespread the concept of harmful masturbation being any masturbation and not just the type that involved tying a belt around your neck while pleasuring yourself, that it was ripe for satirical comment in 1879 by noted writer and satirist Mark Twain, who presented a speech entitled “Some Thoughts on the Science of Onanism” that lampooned both the supporters and deriders of masturbation (though, given Twain’s stance on many matters of sin and pleasure, likely lampooned the latter more than the former). What I’m getting at here is that it was, very much, a matter of public debate as to whether or not masturbation was harmful or not, whether it was natural, or whether it was an obscene perversion not to be engaged in or discussed whatsoever.

Wrapping (It) Up

Where there’s a debate as to the appropriateness of something, there are typically those who state, in the fullness of time and through their singular tooth, that there “Ought to be a law.” And, as those people, though the be bereft of mandibular fortitude, are not bereft of their voting rights and therefore, when congregated in great numbers, have the ability to sway the sensibilities of the very legislators who make those laws. Thus the stage is set for a perfect storm of legislative, and therefore legalistic, idiocy.

But…that’s for next time, isn’t it?

So join me on the next Fetish Friday, where we discuss not the history of masturbation but, rather, the history of illegal masturbation here on Lawyers & Liquor! And until then, you know…

…Don’t let the law catch you with your pants down.

-BB

One thought on “QQH Designs presents Fetish Friday: Sexy Contraband, Part 1 – A Short History Of Masturbating”

  1. the law is still weird about it in some places, hell last i heard in Alabama its illegal to buy dildos but its completely legal to marry or even bang your first cousin. im sure plenty of other states have a few similarly puritan laws still on the books that are at least in the modern age rarely enforced, thank whatever applicable deity you do or don’t believe in. plenty of states its still technically illegal to have for gay people to have sex or even for straight couples to get or give each other hummers or knock on the backdoor.

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