Mrs AB was from a rural area in Goa and is married to Mr AB, who also belongs to a village in Goa. Both are educated yet innocent and shy. After an arranged marriage, it took them almost a year to consummate their marriage.
When their child Miss Pudding was born they were absolutely thrilled. Their innocence hit the sky when they peeped into their 7-year-old daughter’s room and found her playing with her ‘private parts’ or genitals. Mrs AB wept all day, falling short of pulling out her hair.
The next time Miss Pudding was found fiddling, they charged into her room only to find her hiding what she was doing. She lied about what she was doing.
This caused immense agony to the parents due to five reasons.
She was doing something that was shameful
She knew she had to hide (no innocence)
She told an open lie
How did she know what she had been doing?
Has someone else been at it with her?
Touch is the fundamental way of caressing into reproduction, which is all that the fundamental life wishes to have and that is the means as well as the end for life.
Be that as it may, touching and fondling for pleasure is a basic animal instinct and will continue to remain so. Masturbation is the most lawful fallout of sexual sensation.
It may be commonly seen that little kids, between 2 to 5 years of age play with their genitals. The child may have seen the elder-ones of the house do it and so he/she wants to too. This way the child discovers his/her unexplored body parts and gains pleasure from the same. When parents taunt the child, the little one may then get confused as to whether he/she has done something wrong.
Masturbation is an act of stimulation, by touching, massaging or stroking one’s private parts to get sexual gratification. Generally, one tends to do this act either manually or with an object until he/she reaches orgasm. It’s a normal, healthy sexual act. It’s a good way by which sexual pleasure can be obtained without any harm. There is a large population of singles, both men and women who have never been married or are in a long distance relationship or are quite stressed out in life or divorced or have lost their spouse. These people indulge in the act frequently.
Myths and misconceptions: Some of the commons myths hounding this complex topic are:
Sperm will get damaged or will reduce in number
One will never be able to become a parent
One will become a ‘madman’
Normal sex will never be possible with a member of the opposite sex
It’s an evil and dirty act. Don’t do it.
Rest assured none of the above hold even the slightest truth. Masturbation may have been regarded as a sign of psychiatric illness or sexual perversion in the past, but it is now regarded as a healthy act of sex. When indulging in the act of self-stimulation, there are chances of mild irritation on the overlying skin of one’s penis or clitoris. This can be taken care of by using any commercially available lubricant jellies.
How India perceives masturbation versus the West:
In India, any topic even remotely related to sex is considered a taboo. Indians cannot speak about it openly because it is against our culture, is socially unacceptable and dirty. It’s very difficult to explain to the Indian population that masturbation is completely okay to do. Persons who masturbate are considered outcast or filthy minded. Though movies these days show explicable content and the audiences are okay with it, it is ironic that discussing masturbation is not acceptable and people turn a deaf ear to it.
The scene isn’t the same in the US or European countries. There people don’t shy away from talking about such things openly. They consider it perfectly normal. Moreover, sex shops selling sex toys, that are banned in India, are commonly available in the western countries. These places are located at shopping malls, streets and are easily accessible to one and all. They sell sex toys and other objects of sexual gratification at cheap and affordable rates. These shops are freely advertised on billboards and newspapers too!
How can the child who masturbates be counselled?
Distraction: Try to divert the child’s attention. As the child grows older, he/she realises that it’s not right to masturbate in front of many people and can be done only when alone.
Spend quality time: We are so busy nowadays with our fast paced life that we are hardly left with anytime for our kids. Please do make it a point, as much as possible, spend time with your child. Not only talking, but hugging and caressing your child helps reduce the need of the act of masturbation.
Inquire with School-Staff: If you send your child to a day-care centre or nursery, ask the teachers about it too. Request the concerned staff to try and distract the child’s attention with some bait.
Punishments: Don’t shout or beat the child when caught in the act as it can be detrimental to the child’s mental and sexual health later in life. Masturbation is something that shouldn’t be totally ignored and the child may be rightly guided to do it in a closed space say, perhaps a bedroom or bathroom and not when everyone is looking.
Mrs and Mr AB decided to take their daughter for a counselling session to help curb this habit. Fortunately the counsellor, doctor MNO guided the parents on how not to get anxious and let Miss Pudding be.
(A word of caution: We are not encouraging masturbation. There may be times when a nother child or teen is involved and this could be dangerous. This accompanied sensation results in sexual abuse or rape.)
(Columnist is a well-known gynaecologist practising in Panaji. Send in your queries to [email protected])