Challenge: Stop Doing it Yourself

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Words || Phillip Leason

There was a lot of deliberation in the Grapeshot office over what the challenge for this issue should be. Given the DIY theme we immediately decided it had to be about masturbating, because we’re very funny and sex is top shelf humour. The problem is, there isn’t much that’s challenging about hand to gland combat. Masturbating is great and pretty much everybody does it (no hate to those who don’t ‘bate). We decided that a real challenge would be not masturbating, and I was assigned to go a month without putting on a solo performance of much a-goo about nothing.

 Now I’m far from a psychology expert, but to simplify all that I know about Freud and the id, ego and superego: it’s all sex, right?

That’s how the psyche operates, and that’s how were biologically programmed. Upon considering my own life and actions, and extrapolating all of my motivations, that’s always made sense to me. I work hard to build knowledge, so I can gain success and earn money (delusional though that may be as a media student). Why? Ultimately, so that I can have sex. I devote time to learning and playing music, why? So I can have sex. I exercise (or at least entertain the idea of exercising), why? You guessed it, sex. So along with giving up on wrist aerobics I decided I had to try giving up on the idea of sex entirely. This is when the prospect of a month without became genuinely daunting.

What would happen, given that sex is my end game for everything, if I tried to entirely remove it as a factor of my existence? Would I lose all motivation, give up on my duties and hobbies and become a ghost?

Well, if so, at the very least cold showers are meant to be way better for your skin, a month of those and I should be looking like a Nivea model.

During the preliminary days I started doing some research. Masturbation enthusiasts whom I discussed my challenge with were outraged. They preached of its health benefits, and the serious risks of not getting off, especially if you’re a guy. From memory the warnings compounded to suggest that, come the end of the month my entire downstairs would explode and I would be neurologically incapable of experiencing happiness again. But it turns out medical experts (or, rather the people at WebMD) are pretty divided over whether or not masturbating it is a good or bad thing, it’s context-specific and shouldn’t be confused with sex, which does have genuine health benefits. Overall though, it seems like there are just as many risks attached to playing uno, and no real physical consequences to giving it up. This was reassuring, ‘cause by this point the challenge was getting very difficult.

I was chewing my nails down to stubs, I started having trouble getting to sleep and at one point I got mildly aroused while reading Pygmalion; I had to find an outlet…

So after about a week I began fastidiously planning my days on paper to devote my energy to other things. A run in the morning and push-ups before sleep replaced the ‘I’m in bed, I might as well’ opportunities, and the rest of my time was scrupulously divided between working, reading and socialising. In this three week period of desperately avoiding any opportunity to masturbate, I felt better than I ever had in my life, and pretty soon I forgot about doing it entirely.

 I’m pleased to say my previous assumptions of the human psyche were wrong (no surprise really, I based them off an incredibly shallow understand of the writings of a widely refuted cocaine addict who died 75 years ago). I was reminded why I genuinely love the things I do, and that they aren’t all simply a means to the end of getting laid. Moreover, my relationships with other people improved and I was more confident.

Maybe it’s just me, but god, thinking about sex can be a burden. Without that in the equation I found it much easier to speak to other people…

 So, despite my initial fears, a month of sexlessness didn’t turn me into some deviant, brimming with pent up angst, who licks their lips when somebody bends to tie up a shoe; it was, frankly, liberating. It gave me an opportunity to re-evaluate my goals and values. It turns out that exercise is great, not because it gives me a bangable beach-bod, but because the endorphin kick from a run lasts much longer than a self-induced orgasm. And it turns out that I like working because I get genuine pleasure from learning and creating things. That said, my month is up, I’ve learned my lesson, and I’m pretty eager to get back into the swing of things.