By now, social media and random pop-up ads have (hopefully!) informed you that May is, in fact, masturbation month. You know the rules: knead your love muffin obsessively and thank your lucky stars that the clit exists. Oh, and make sure you’re doing it to the right sort of fantasy.

Turns out, there is actual history—imagine that!—behind masturbation month. Back in 1994, Dr. Joycelyn Elders was the Surgeon General here in the US. Elders was extremely progressive for the time, which 20 years ago simply meant that she was a huge proponent of sex ed (and decriminalizing most drugs, but that’s a story for another day). She famously said:

As per your specific question in regard to masturbation, I think that is something that is a part of human sexuality and it’s a part of something that perhaps should be taught. But we’ve not even taught our children the very basics.

She meant that we should teach kids that it’s okay to masturbate. Spin media decided that her message was: “let’s bring some dildos to class and teach these kindergartners to have some fun!” Not the situation Elders was suggesting. She later went on to explain that masturbation could prevent the spread of AIDS; unfortunately, her bold statements led to a forced resignation.

Politicians (both Republican and Democrat) took a break from worshipping Voldemort in their bat caves to jump for joy. Our buddy Newt Gingrich said, “it’s good for the country and good for the President that she’s departed.”

Not everyone agreed. Notorious sex shop Good Vibrations took action in 1995 and declared May National Masturbation Month. Since then, it’s grown to International Masturbation Month.

As of now, Dr. Elders is 80 and still kicking it. Have fun this month, kids.

 

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