This article was first published in Common Ground Magazine in February 2015, and speaks to a challenge that I myself faced head on in my mid 20s. It took me until my mid 30s, almost ten years later, to gain enough distance from that journey, and the healing that it required, for me to feel that I could write about it with the appropriate clarity, humor, and care necessary for a topic that many men struggle with to this day, through no fault of their own.
For anyone who is not a man (or has never been a man) I invite you to read on with an open, compassionate mind.
Shining Light on the Shadow
One of the great shadows that plagues modern men, by association modern women, and as a result society as a whole, is embedded within the secretive, often-unconscious act of male masturbation.
Your relationship to this topic may be reflected by the amount of anxiety, relief, or projection you experience from reading this article. So be mindful. Watch when you blush. Observe where you squirm. Every moment this happens will be an indication of an area of your psyche that has yet to be illuminated, integrated and healed.
Firstly I’m sure we all can agree that there’s nothing particularly empowering about spending minutes at a time hunched over some corner of your house like a dribbling medieval peasant frantically trying to strangle a weasel.
It’s just not a good look, no matter how well dressed you are.
There’s also the side effect that masturbation, if done quickly (which it usually is) trains us to premature ejaculate.
Just what everyone wants more of.
And what about that ridiculous idea that’s been perpetuated for years about jerking off before a first date?
I mean what towering intellect came up with the idea of shooting all your UNAGI into an old sock before meeting a woman with whom you want to marshal all your male potency to engage with? What if the date goes well? You think ejaculating like a stroke victim trying to keep down his rice pudding is going to blow her hair back? The release of your cosmic life force should have the power of a samurai sword chopping off the tip of a fire hydrant. It should explode with the force of Old Faithful. It should drench the woman, the entire house. Semen should be running down the staircase from her bedroom like the rivers of blood in the Shining. It should fill the fireplace and shoot out the chimney. The neighbors should be able to dance underneath the shower that covers the street like a Bedouin tribe celebrating the arrival of rain after a drought. Animals in the nearby Zoo should run for higher ground. What I’m trying to say here is that it should be AN EVENT. Do not jerk off before a first date.
But the only real reason we do this is simply because we are not yet in training. We have no understanding of how to channel our sexual energy. So when a powerful woman enters our sphere of awareness we can’t contain that energy, and it pops.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Because whats really going on here is far more disempowering than simply losing control of your chi when you should be transmuting it back up your spine and shooting it out of your third eye like a boss.
What this is really about, is where we, as men, psychologically and emotionally train ourselves to go while we’re masturbating.
Modern men all over the world have been trained since a very young age to masturbate in a very particular way that involves focusing our awareness onto a very specific, very secretive place inside of our psyche that is often completely contrary to what a fulfilling sexual experience actually looks like.
What I’m talking about is not your every day WANK BANK, but your SECRET VAULT, your CONCRETE BUNKER. That place that all men born in the modern world and exposed to advertising, television, film, magazines, pornography have been, on a very deep level, programmed to go to when fantasizing.
It’s that place that has been trained to be turned on by an active or passive sexual violence, an aggressive domination or submission, or any other variation of the classic “dominator hierarchy.”
And the underlying reason?
As a society we’re still, for the most part, getting off with our egos. And an undeveloped ego only ever feels good when locked fast in an endless struggle for power and control.
The result is an unconscious yearning for the kind of sexual relationship that couldn’t be further from the healthy, HEALING sex life that most of us truly want. And in the midst of a mental health epidemic it seems logical (if incredibly painful because of the stigma of shame surrounding it) that at some point we might want to consider how we actually teach our young men to masturbate in a way that doesn’t simply churn and hard wire some version of sexual toxicity within them, so they can actually begin to set themselves up for a healthy sex life thereafter.
But for the most part, we’re still too immature as a society to even talk about it.
The result is that most of us never ever truly turn and face that deep, dark place inside where our personal off-shore secret Swiss Wank Account is stored so that it has no choice but to grow in interest until it eventually gets so bloated that it spills over into our public life like an Elliot Spitzer, Dominique Strauss Khan, Anthony Wiener, Bill Cosby or Donald Trump.
Because if our sexual shadows are not aired, cleansed and processed into something healthy, they will ultimately take control of us in a moment of weakness and remind us that the deeper we repress them, the greater their power over us. And there’s nothing worse than having a nice young chap with good intentions give off a totally rape-y vibe for no other reason than for a few minutes, a dozen times a week he trains his brain to wire around some twisted sexual power struggle simply because he hasn’t been offered a healthy, empowering alternative to put in its place.
So what does this all really come down to?
Harsh, perhaps. But if you’re a man well, unless you’re eighty years old, or have a testosterone deficiency, you know what I’m talking about.
Because all men, in spite of our best intentions, have at one time or another felt completely at the mercy of our libidos.
It’s just part of the game.
And don’t get me wrong. In an age where so much emphasis is finally being placed upon the Feminine, and rightly so, it can be a curious thing to bring in such a concept. That as men, we need to be understood for the biological pressures that we’re being put under by the Heavy Weight Champion of the chemical world: Testosterone. Mr T., AKA The Dark Lord Ballsdemort.
Yes, for the ladies out there, I can assure you that Ballsdemort has the power to put your higher functions into a choke hold in the blink of an eye. Like a magic spell you can be under in no time. And with all the support Ballsdemort gets from the mass media machine, it can be a full time job for men finding their center when every cell in their body seems to be screaming – dominate every man you meet, and subjugate every woman.
Most men I speak to usually have no trouble admitting that they have, at one time or another, felt like Ballsdemort’s bitch. A slave to his (and not their) desire. And I’m not giving testosterone a bad rap here. It has its upside for sure. I’m just talking about the spell that takes training to come to terms with, to meet with a level of personal strength that doesn’t just involve repression.
Because at some point there comes a time when we do have to stare our relationship to sex, and to our sexual fantasies squarely in the face, with open eyes, so that we can begin to ask the inevitable question – do I want to be free from this?
And I’m certainly not suggesting that everyone does.
But for those of us who do, I offer a few suggestions:
1. Identify where you go in your deepest darkest fantasies.
Don’t just stick your big toe in them, or glance at them cowardly from a distance. Dive into them. If they’re unconscious then you will have to go there consciously, which may very well inflame the part of you that is ashamed. Yeah, it’s a Gordian knot. But until you hold your eyes open to them no matter how strange or painful they are you won’t be able to identify the underlying dynamic that you’re training yourself to get off on. Is it the abuse of power? Humiliation? Self-deprecation? Aggression? Revenge? Identifying what it is, and then understanding the underlying need that wants to be expressed is the first step in knowing how that need might authentically be met in a way that heals and empowers you.
2. Take a meta perspective of yourself in the act.
The first time I forced myself to do this it changed my relationship to masturbation forever. It was like throwing a rock through a mirror and seeing the truth. So just take a moment to really engage your pattern, really commit to going to that secret place physically, emotionally, psychologically, and then right in the middle of it – turn and check yourself out in the mirror. Dear lord, its like having a bucket of cold water thrown over you while being hit by lightning. Seriously, if you’re hunched over with your orgasm face on then you probably look like a beaten down dog taking an incredibly painful shit. It’s horribly, painfully, unforgettably humiliating, and allows the spell of your own illusion of what you think you’re doing to be, at the very least, momentarily broken.
3. Stop it with the celebrities.
They get enough energy as it is without you beaming your second chakra directly into their psychic storage center. More importantly, masturbating over public figures can perpetuate the unconscious belief that your sexual fulfillment will always remain unattainable, always within the realm of individuals with whom you may never meet.
Then again, if you are in a position where you may meet them, even more reason not to. The last thing you want to do is walk into a meeting and have to actually shake hands with someone with the same five digits you beat off to them with.
4. Stop watching porn.
Porn is erotic junk food. There are plenty of other areas that can turn you on that don’t involve the exploitation of women and an unhealthy example of sexual fulfillment. So try going cold turkey, or if that’s too difficult then gradually phase out from full fledged porn, into “art” photography, then into “normal women” with “normal bodies” photography. This will begin to bring the fantasy back into reality. Like retraining your taste buds into understanding that a fresh salad is always better than a big mac and fries. Your libido is no different.
5. Learn to defend yourself against your environment.
You’re being bombarded by sexually provocative images constantly. On every website, magazine, television show, or commercial for cheap plastic razors, you are constantly being aroused by artificially augmented Amazonians shaving their perfectly Photo-shopped pins totally in the buff. Mass media is perpetually attempt to turn you on, and as long as you tolerate it, you’re going to remain a Pavlovian dog unconsciously stimulated by every sexual bell that marketers ring. So begin to take stock of your environment and the triggers that you allow into it. Look at your home, your bedroom, your browsing, reading, and television habits. Where are you being aroused unknowingly? Where are you being stroked unwittingly? Take most web pages. Do you think you’re capable of scrolling down to the comment section without having your libido jacked by those erotic little thumbnails even if you’re not directly looking at them? Well, surprise! You’re not. Your unconscious mind is always aware of your peripheral vision, especially if it contains a cheeky piece of ass and some side boob.
6. Wake up to the objectification of women, once and for all.
When you’re objectifying a woman, you’re not seeing her as she truly is. You’re not seeing someone who poops twice a day and bleeds for almost a week a month so that a little thing called HUMANITY can perpetuate itself. You’re not seeing a mother, sister, or daughter. You’re simply seeing an illusion of your own mental conditioning that has been designed solely to give you pleasure. So the next time you see a beautiful woman, just remember that fundamentally, this divine creature is a reflection of the sacred emptiness that gave rise to the entire universe. Realize that when you imagine sexually demeaning her you’re not getting off. You’re just getting angry. And not because of her sense of entitlement or because she’s obnoxious, or a corporate lemming, or a New Age elitist, or because you simply can’t have her. But because your life is painful, and you’re suffering.
When you step into sexual unconsciousness, you’re not just raising your middle finger at them, you’re raising it to life. To your life. Even to God, or whoever you believe is responsible for creating this cosmic free-fall of beauty and horror, where even the simple task of waking up and facing the impossible preciousness of existence, compounded by a global crisis day after agonizing day, is an act of heroism it and of itself.
Address this, and you will have found the beginning of the solution and not just the smoke screen. Because in the end, we can either escape suffering though an illusion, and the little death of an orgasm, or we can face the truth of who we are and what we really need …
Which is love, healing and peace.
Photo credit: Evan Sharboneau