Why We Masturbate

Every man you can think of — your father, your pastor, politicians, celebrities, scientists, looks for those moments when no one is around.

Where they won’t be missed or disturbed.

They sneak off and masturbate.

And, if statisticians are to be believed (though statistics tend to insist upon themselves, I think…) a majority of women too.

And no doubt, this compulsive behavior has much to do with the feeling masturbation produces in the genitals. A pleasurable contraction of the muscles.

But, does it feel that good? I mean, don’t get me wrong — orgasms are great and I love them but is the physical reaction to genital stimulation so incredible that it explains this species-wide obsession?

I’ll be honest — I don’t think it is. I think the obsession with orgasms (produced not just with masturbation but with any kind of genital stimulating activity) is more due to what it does to us internally — as in consciously.

I’d never really thought about the internal effects of orgasms until I dabbled in chaos magick — a modern occult practice that seeks to produce a desired outcome by creating altered states of consciousness.

In Chaos magick, you work with sigils — personally designed images meant to describe, symbolically, your desired outcome. These sigils have to be charged and it’s said that the way you charge a sigil is by setting it in your unconscious mind. Doing so effectively means quieting consciousness and focusing on the images with the unconscious mind.

I don’t know the last time you tried, but quieting consciousness is no easy task. So, to make the whole process easier, chaos magick suggests an easy way to quiet the conscious mind and open a fast door to the unconscious — orgasm.

Chaos magicians believe in the fleeting moments of orgasm, your conscious mind shuts off. Maybe not “shuts off” but it’s in those climactic moments that you’re best able to shut out all outside concerns and just “be.” Even if it’s only for a few seconds.

Now I’m not interested in arguing for or against the effectiveness of chaos magic. But, I do think they’re onto something in the way they describe the seconds of climax. I think it’s the closest most of us ever get to turning off our conscious processes (at least those of us that aren’t expert meditators or heroin addicts).

And that is what, I think, explains the cultural obsession with orgasms. The tingling in our bits is a loss-leader — something to get us in the door. But what we keep coming back for is the sensation of blinking out of existence for a few seconds — the oceanic feeling of returning to the womb — a place with no markets, no hierarchies, no food chains, and no sadness. A place where — for a few seconds, we can just be.

A return to Eden.

I don’t suspect I’ll convince many people. I imagine the pervading opinion is that we’re all there for the rush of dopamine and accompanying pleasurable convulsions.

But, that’s okay. Being agreed with is overrated.

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