Profound Sexual Stupidity

Masturbation was at one time called “solitary vice,” and we may suppose that it was, and is, in most cases a reclusive transgression. Diogenes is said to have pleasured himself publicly as a gesture of contempt for conventional morality, but Diogenes was, by design, an exception to the human rule.

I have heard enlightened folk make a somewhat half-hearted attempt to normalize masturbation with the euphemism “self-pleasuring,” but also noted that not one of these unabashed sexual pioneers elected to “come out” as a proud self-pleasurer.

There is a certain degree of obfuscation in both of these phrases, “solitary vice” and “self-pleasuring,” since they would seem to locate the autoerotic essence in either the setting (solitary) or the administrator (the self). Unless we are prepared to say that Diogenes was doing something other than masturbate when he staggered across the agora waving his tomahawk, we must reject solitude as the essence of the act.

That masturbation is essentially self-administered is likewise open to serious objections. These objections are grounded in no less an authority than underworld slang, and more especially the definitive underworld slang of hard-boiled detective fiction. This slang registers the existence of assisted masturbation, and gives the assistants such titles as a “jerker” and a “whanker’s moll.”*

I hope you will not object to a short digression on this word whank. Schmidt’s Dictionary of Medical Slang (1959) spells the word whank, with an h, but all modern writers seem to omit the letter and spell the word wank. One consequence of this omission has been mystification of the origin of the word. Until quite recently, whank was onomatopoeic for a short, sharp cry, and was especially used to denote the craking call of certain birds. For instance, here is what one author has to say of the unmelodious nuthatch:

“‘Whank, whank, whank!’ the little bird calls.” (Dunn and Troxell, By the Roadside [1928].)

It is also possible that this word whank comes from the old Yorkshire colloquialism whang, which is to say beat, but I believe it comes from almost duck-like quack that so often accompanies what Schmidt described as “manual decompression of the membrum virile erectum.” We have seen that solitude is not essential to this act, but privacy is so often sought that it is understandable that the act has been connected to certain tell-a-tale noises from behind closed doors.

We move much closer to the essence of masturbation if we focus on that word manual in what Schmidt calls “manual decompression.”

The word masturbation is quite possibly a bastardization of the older word manustupration, which means to debauch (Latin stupor) with the hand.  We all know that a man in a stupor is in a state of impaired sensibility. Whether the impairment is permanent or temporary, we call such a man stupid. From this I believe it follows that manual stupefaction of the genitals is the essence of masturbation.   By regular manipulation, the whanker has rendered his penis stupid. This means that his “self abuse” has rendered the organ insensible to all but the most lurid enticements, and all but the most vigorous stimulation.

We might say he sufferes Stupid Penis Syndrome.

The Latin word stupor is often translated as debauch. This is a word that would benefit from restoration, since it is nowadays used almost exclusively as a noun (debauchery) that denotes excess, or what should really be called luxury. Properly speaking, debauchery a one particular form of stupefaction. Specifically, to debauch a person (or a thing) is to render it incapable of serving its purpose or fulfilling its duty. Or, if you like, it is to make that thing or person stupid.  When a person is debauched, this always involves rendering that person insensible to that purpose or duty.

You may have heard the expression “debauch the currency.” What does this mean? It means to render the currency incapable of serving its purpose as a store of value and a medium of exchange, normally by inflating the money supply.

In olden times, a woman was said to be debauched when she had been rendered incapable of performing the natural duties of a wife and mother. In the terms of my previous post, she was a whore (i.e. a “goodtime girl” or a “party girl”). This sometimes involved defilement by rape, but debauchery of a woman did not require rape, and rape did not entail debauchery. Debauchery did, however, usually involve rendering the woman stupidly insensible to her natural duties as a woman.

Likewise, in olden times, a man was said to be debauched when he had been rendered incapable of performing the natural duties of a husband and father. In the terms of my previous post, he was a gambler (i.e. a “sport” or a “playboy”). This often involved wagering on the outcome of games, but was in essence a conviction that life is a game in which the summum bonum is fun. And here again, debauchery involved rendering the man stupidly insensible to his natural duties as a man.

Manustupration debauches the genitals because it isolates the orgasm as the summum bonum of erotic desire.  Fun is transformed from a happy accident of sex into its defining purpose.  Whanking is not the only means whereby this transformation can be accomplished, but it is certainly one of the most common ways in which eros is debauched.  If a man or woman persists in self-abuse, they will in time impair, perhaps even loose, their capacity for natural sexual function, because they have brought themselves to a state of profound sexual stupidity.

40 thoughts on “Profound Sexual Stupidity

  1. Pingback: The Meaning of Sexual Debauchery | @the_arv

  2. A female colleague told me not so long ago that when the adolescent males in her enrollment secretly access their cell phones during the class session by manipulating their devices below the desk (hence, as they mistakenly believe, out of sight) — it looks to her like surreptitious masturbation. And she tells them so, that it might shame them into paying attention. Alas, it fails to do so, the perpetrators of the vice having put themselves beyond shame. A good deal of what passes for “activity” in the modern, consumer-oriented world is masturbatory in that it is solitary even when practiced in the public square dans la manière de Diogenes, as well as being stupefying. Preoccupation with devices, which proliferate in variety beyond the cell phone, is, of course, a widely visible example of the solitary vice. Any college course with the word “studies” in its title is probably onanistic, as in all likelihood are the vast majority of poetry-writing, screenplay-writing, and story-writing courses. Video games are a type of solitary vice. All schedules and agendas which promise their disciples that, in following the regimen, they will “feel better about themselves” are masturbatory. All roles that involve being something, invariably ethnic or abnormally sexual, are like unto self-pleasuring, as it appears to me. It is significant in a perverse way, I am sure, that a good many of the unwanted sexual approaches in the recent Hollywood “Me Too” scandal, as described by those on the recipient end of them, were not attempts at forcible intercourse or even gross seduction, but rather instances of “pulling one off” before an unwilling female observer. It is as though the wanker cannot believe in his own wanking existence except in the presence of a witness who can, as it were, certify the reality, such as it is, of what is going on.

    The Star Trek franchise’s “Holodeck” is basically a wanker program

    • I was lecturing in a refurbished dissection theater last semester, so the students appeared to rise up before me like a wall. They were, naturally, texting away before class, and I told the young men what it looked like they were doing. Nervous giggles, especially from the two who actually were playing with themselves.

      Whanking is to sex what junk food is to food. Junk food debauches a person’s tastebuds while defeating the natural purpose of eating.

  3. I have heard enlightened folk make a somewhat half-hearted attempt to normalize masturbation with the euphemism “self-pleasuring,” but also noted that not one of these unabashed sexual pioneers elected to “come out” as a proud self-pleasurer.

    Prof. Smith, meet Jen; Jen, Prof. Smith.:

    I masturbate all the time. I’m the most social person I know. I’m also married, own a home, have a wonderful job and a slew of family and friends who love me.

    See here:

    • It seems Jen doesn’t understand the meaning of perversion. It means to “bend” some instinct or impulse away from its natural end, particularly when doing so make it hard to “bend” it back. Its like using a kitchen knife to open a tin can. I wonder if she is this forthcoming in face to face conversations with her many friends and family.

      • I wonder if she is this forthcoming in face to face conversations with her many friends and family.

        I vaguely recall the same curiosity running through my mind when I initially read Jen’s comment, and the answer was, at the time, “not likely.” But who knows; some persons, as I think you point out in the O.P., tend to be rather “shameless” about such things. Perhaps “Jen” is one of those persons.

        BTW, how can we know that Jen is “she” or a “her”?

      • The very fact that Jen was making a scene in Laura Wood’s comment thread suggests that she is not easily embarrassed. Perhaps I should qualify my statement and say that there are shameless whankers, but they will always be sure to make it clear that their whanking supplements a rich and active erotic life.

      • It’s the affront that was off-putting. Usually I find masturbators to be a more likable group than some other sexual sinners–sodomites and “remarried” adulterers to be precise–just because they don’t tend to demand approval. At most, you’ll get a sheepish “Well, we all do it…”.

        (Back when my brother was a midshipman at the Naval Academy, there was general acknowledgement among students of the universality of onanism. My brother astounded some of them when he admitted that he had never engaged in this practice. One other midshipman went up to him and shook his hand, saying “That’s the first clean hand I’ve ever shaken!” Among his acquaintances and mine, there was an opinion that two weeks is about as long as a man can hold out. Once, when the two weeks claim came up, I suggested that three weeks is actually possible, and my interlocutor looked at me as if I were a great marvel of self-mastery to suggest such a thing.)

        Jen may have been taken aback because the fact of the matter is that male masturbation is low-status (the butt of jokes) while female masturbation is high-status (a matter of erotic fascination from men and praise from sexologists for “exploring her sexuality” etc). So girls may not take criticism of their habit as genially as boys do.

    • …there was general acknowledgement among students of the universality of onanism.

      This was my impression also while I was in college, although I was never quite sure whether it was actually as ubiquitous as it seemed or if the phenomenon was exaggerated for laughs (a la that Seinfeld episode). I never bothered to ask anyone directly if he was actually a serial masturbator.
      However, given the ubiquity of porn, which as best I can tell is not much exaggerated, the universality of onanism is probably real.
      In the early 20th century, masturbation was apparently perceived as being connected to active or latent homosexuality. The implication would seem to be that masturbation was much less prevalent back then (contra some modern degenerates who like to claim that it’s impossible to expect anyone not to masturbate). See for instance, this incident that took place at Harvard in 1920, where several students suspected of homosexual activity were interrogated by the authorities as to whether they masturbated, an affirmative answer being regarded as evidence for their guilt.

  4. Pingback: The Meaning of Sexual Debauchery | Reaction Times

  5. There appears to be a controversy over the spelling of the slang-word for the onanistic act. JM places an “H” between the initial “W” and the subsequent “A.” I expel the “H” as orthographically unnecessary. However, the “H” does correspond to its homologon in whore. I invite commentary to resolve the discrepancy.

    “I was lecturing in a refurbished dissection theater.” This sentence justly characterizes the contemporary college or university.

    “Mansturpation” is good; however, I suggest “Unmansturpation.” Some unmansturpaters are probably incapable of actually mansturpating. (I make no reference to “Jen.”)

    Perhaps also: Femmesturpating. (That would be a reference to “Jen.”)

    • I don’t know how to express this using the proper terminology, but a “wh” can be vocalized differently than just a “w.” The word “white” is sometimes pronounced with a barely audible h.

      The word Yankee has been explained as a Native American imitation of the “honking” and “quacking” sound of the English colonists. I wonder if the words Yankee and Whanker etymologically, as well as in other, more obvious, ways.

  6. To add to Terry Morris’s comment, plenty of males my own age (in their young 20s) have had no problem admitting to such behavior in my company.

    The point about the meaning of debauchery is intriguing. In my own intellectual quest to come to the essence of pornography, I came to the conclusion that it was in essence a sin against the unitive end of sex. Looked at as debauchery, pornography (both made and viewed) renders the sinner incapable of uniting himself to a single other person. He has debauched his capacity for unitive self giving.

    Thank you Professor Smith for this thought provoking post.

    • Now that you mention it, the frat boys in Tom Wilfe’s I am Charlotte Simmons were pretty frank about their indulgence in solitary vice. I think what you say about pornography is generally correct. Someone will always pipe in and say they use it without ill effect, but these people are exceptions. I think the junk food analogy can be pushed pretty far. There are people who can indulge in an occasional Big Mac or doughnut, but regular indulgence in Big Macs and doughnuts will in most people debauch their taste for apples and oranges.

  7. On the terminological point, I would restrict the word “masturbation” to stimulation of one’s own genitals, whether in private or public, but not manual stimulation by a partner. At least, that’s my sense of how the word is used. But I agree that all nonprocreative sex is essentially the same and morally objectionable for the same reason.

    Given the prevalence of the solitary vice, it’s surprising how little effect it has seem to have had on the relations between the sexes. Men seem as desperate for sex with women, and women as eager to catch the attention of men, as ever, despite them having another easy and cost-free “outlet”. Rape has not disappeared, although I can’t prove that is not less prevalent than it would otherwise have been. In his writing on sexual ethics, C. S. Lewis said that the lecher does not so much want a woman as want a pleasure that can only be obtained from a woman. Clearly lust, even of the most exploitative kind, has a greater intersubjective dimension than that. Men and women are clearly aroused by the other’s sexual response, and I think it’s much more common for a man to fantasize about a woman while masturbating than to fantasize about masturbation while having sex with a woman.

    That brings me to another little idea I’ve had. I hear a lot that pornography consumption is changing how men think. I couldn’t say, having never really gotten into the stuff even in my most debauched days. However, I think the internet has really set a trap for a lot of people. Once, one needed to go to a store to get printed or video porn, which meant interacting with a clerk, however minimally, which was bound to be somewhat awkward. Then internet porn appeared, and at first it must have seemed great. Now a fellow can indulge his vice completely anonymously, with no embarrassing interactions with another person. Then one day it hits him that internet search histories are certainly being stored remotely. (When I go to this site on my phone, my laptop automatically knows to guess-complete this address.) Google Inc knows the masturbation visual accompaniments of every guy in America. Not that they’ve threatened to use this information on anybody, but do they have to? They’re one of the most powerful companies in the world, and they have compromising information on a big chunk of the population. When our poor porn addict realizes the trap he’s fallen into, he may wish that he’d stuck with the dirty adult bookstore.

    Maybe I’m being paranoid, but these companies seem a lot more sinister to me than they once did.

    • It’s true that much of the more shocking pornography, the kind typically used as a masturbatory aid, can be found on the internet without anyone but google knowing it. However, people aren’t really embarrassed to consume socially acceptable pornography in public, and haven’t been for some time. The Fifty Shades series and Game of Thrones are incredibly popular and most people who do partake are not the least bit shy about having done so. Graphic sex scenes have been a part of popular movies at least since the eighties.

    • I don’t suppose many men fantasize about masturbating while they are engaged in coitus, but I believe that many do indulge in masturbatory fantasies. When they do, the woman’s body becomes a prosthetic aid to their hand, but their eros is drawn to an idea that is in their head. Masturbation is, after all, a highly intellectual activity. Perhaps we refuse to say this because the word intellectual has such positive connotation, but masturbation is in large part what D. H. Lawrence called “sex in the head.”

      There are endless possibilities for nefarious use of individual search histories. With respect to pornography, there is not just the opportunity for blackmail. I’d imagine that a list of preferred images would disclose clear patterns of revealed sexual preference, and that knowing the this preference would be very helpful in manipulating a man. Imagine that all the women in the sidebar advertisements suddenly looked and posed in ways that Google knows you prefer. What Google now knows is how to push the buttons that turn off the rational mind and let the reptile brain take over. Of course, if my aim was to compromise an important man with a femme fatal, it would be very helpful to know exactly what he likes. Seduction of a man is not all that hard to begin with. Imagine how easy it would be if your seduction was a faithful reproduction of his revealed fantasies.

    • I’ve sometimes thought that it would be preferable to live in a society where prostitution were legal rather than in a society where internet pornography is legal, for precisely the reason you mention: the relative lack of anonymity for the former. Ten percent of men visiting prostitutes versus ninety-nine percent of men being serial masturbators might be a trade I’d be willing to take. There’s a sense too in which masturbation seems to me more depraved than having an assignation with a prostitute.
      Also, being a ‘garden-variety’ prostitute strikes me as less degrading that a porn ‘actress’, where the whole world can view the degrading actions you’ve subjected yourself to. Calling a porn ‘actress’ a prostitute seems almost too kind.
      On the rape point, I’ve heard that St. Augustine thought that prostitution should remain legal because he thought that if it were outlawed, men would go around raping women. (Maybe someone can correct me if I got that wrong).

  8. There are those for whom masturbation is literally their only option. The “sexual marketplace” leaves many, many viable potential partners out in the cold, so it’s all they have. Are they still “stupid?” If so, what are they to do? (besides “just get out there!!!” or pray about it)

    • They might, ultimately, come to realize that sexual release is not a “need” in the same sense as eating and breathing, modern dogma notwithstanding. Master improper sexuality by recognizing it as a fundamentally animalistic urge and rejecting it outright, rather than seeking some less vicious means of sating it. The male libido can be dominated by the properly masculine spirit, it’s just that such a thing is rarely attempted.

      • @Sunwheel
        I am very much inclined to agree with you indeed. But for the masses of men in this position, there is simply no context in existence (except on the internet) nor explanation (again, except on the internet) of it in order for them to even get to that point. Waiting for that to happen is going to yield little in the way of results. We’ll simply need to repair the the previous order so that every man can have a wife, just like before, and they can go about the business of civilization.

    • I’m not using the word “stupid” as a general term of denigration. I’m saying that this substitute may render a man less fit for actual coitus. It is analogous to the way in which listening to very loud music can render a man less fit for actually hearing music that is not very loud. I do not know your circumstances, and would not for a moment make light of chronic loneliness.

      • Understood good sir, and I did not mean to come off as upset in anyway. If they are unable to attain coitus however, often for years, then what is left for them to do really? They are not all going to become nofap warriors, monk mode/hard mode, neoreactionary/neotraditionalist, stoic monastic types. Most will not. Their plight is not taken seriously enough and it is a dire, dire plight indeed. The wounded soldier needs to be taken care of immediately, but in our society, instead of removing and treating the wounded soldier, we have the medics standing over him doling out all sorts of advice and analysis; while he writhes in pain, bleeding to death.

      • Not really, for most of them it is their only option. Our option is to restore proper order and distribute marriageable women to them. So let’s get cracking shall we?

  9. I think Gavin McInnes said if a guy could just stop jerking off for five minutes between the ages of 12 and 17 he would be thankful for the break. But hey maybe Gavin has a sex drive like Peter North’s and needed to get it out of his system – regularly. I mean jerking off vs potential false rape accusations? In this day and age?

    • We’ll have to wait and see what the effect of relaxing the student dress codes in the government schools currently sweeping the land will have on 12-17 year-old American boys overall. It might result in a whole lot more “jerking off,” or, on the other hand, it might result in more rape accusations against them, real or pretended. Who knows? Hard to know what will happen as a result of the inmates running the asylum(s).

      • My daughter is in sixth grade and her school had to commandeer the drama theater as a holding pen for dress code violators. The thespians have been relocated to the wrestling-mat storage closet, to the disgust of my daughter. Judging from what I see at drop-off, its mainly girls with peek-a-boo holes in their jeans. And yes, I’d say that enforcement of the dress code must have disparate impact.

      • What’s this relaxing of the student dress code all about? I thought students have been able to wear pretty much what they’ve wanted for the last few decades.
        Unless it’s something promoting Christianity or white privilege of course.

      • Ian:
        I’d say that’s a fair assessment of the existing dress codes, such that they are, yes. However, the anarchist inmates – who have of course been raised in the nurture and admonition of the gods of feminism and sexual liberation – are very upset about the sexist nature of the existing codes and are demanding their unalienable right to “express themselves” in the way they choose to dress for school shall no longer be violated.
        In many cases it is not about what they are not allowed to wear, as much as it is about what they have, until recently, not been allowed to not wear. There have been a few cases in which girls have been singled out for choosing to go bra-less to school, which administrators have told them is a distraction to the learning environment in general, and to their male classmates in particular.
        Obviously these girls and their single moms find this to be terribly insulting to young women and demand these archaic and sharia-like rules be eliminated forthwith.
        (The existing rules also tend to affect girls of color more often than white girls, I take it, which makes them, of course, racist in nature. White girls are very upset about this as well.)
        I’ve read several articles on the subject that bear close similarities to Prof. Smith’s report from his daughter’s school amongst that specific age group. When they get a little older, however, is when the peek-a-boo holes in their jeans violations turn to demands to free up and display their more mature … assets. If the boys are distracted by all of this, say the “victims” and their single moms, that is a problem with the boys and their parents, who have obviously not done enough to properly school them to never disrespect girls and their assets, regardless of what the girls choose to wear, or not to wear…

  10. I’ve just run across a curious old book called Onania: or, The Heinous Sin of Self-Pollution, and its Frightful Consequences in Both Sexes Considered,, fourth edition (London: The Author, 1718). I suspect this may be a salacious book disguised as a work of moral outrage. But I do like that word Onania. It sounds like the name of an African country, or an on-line university, or perhaps an on-line university based in an African country.

    • I think the most likely is an online African country based in a University.

      It has that English horn-word quality that so titillates the subscendent post-modern amoral rake, who wishes to spew a logorrhea to seem wise to his less credentialed peers and as a cloud of ink to hide his more nefarious activities.

  11. Inherent to porn is masturbation which is a particular form of homosexuality* falling under the abstract concept of “radical sexual autonomy.” Alt-writers are in the unenviable position of providing concrete ideation of “radical sexual autonomy” for the purposes of contrasting to Roman (C)atholic sexual traditions.

    Porn —> masturbation —> homosexuality —> masturbation —> porn is the concrete reality of anti-Roman (C)atholic sexual mores.

    Asserting Roman (C)atholicism is racist.

    So the roaming (c)atholic rainbow seized the “light.”

    *Where homo=same=exact same=self.

  12. It’s a lot harder to criticize teens masturbating when stuck in a dead sexless marriage. Being there just for the kids takes a toll on your soul.

    Out of my children only my daughter has been obviously masturbating since around 5 and even now as she becomes a teen I still say nothing. My wife just told her not to do in public years ago but otherwise I say nothing. I don’t think most fathers would say anything either to their daughters. About dating and sex yes. Masturbation dropped as a thing you don’t mention.

  13. The author is so busy being clever and “erudite”, it’s damned near impossible for the average reader to be impressed or enlightened. Otherwise, why don’t you and all your doting commentator twits find something productive to do, besides playing with yourselves.


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