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YGoldenberg

Is masturbation rational, moral?

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masturbation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Masturbation is the manual excitation of the sexual organs, most often to the point of orgasm. It can refer to excitation either by oneself or by another (see mutual masturbation), but commonly refers to such activities performed alone. It is part of a larger set of activities known as autoeroticism, which also includes the use of sex toys and non-genital stimulation.

If the term is not well-defined, follow the link and see the pictures ;)

Question: Is is moral to Masturbate AND to fantasize having real sex?

(Just to make sure, I`m talking in a personal context. leave the government out.)

1. Wouldn`t that count as evading reality? (For, in reality - I`m single)

2. If the only reason for masturbating is pleasure, would that not count as hedonism? can a man "living QUA man" masturbate?

3. Sex is depicted by Rand as a "celebration of one`s existence". Is is moral to celebrate by myself?

4. Is it moral to watch ("unspeakbly disguisting"/AR) pornography, for assistance in masturbation?

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masturbation

If the term is not well-defined, follow the link and see the pictures ;)

Question: Is is moral to Masturbate AND to fantasize having real sex?

(Just to make sure, I`m talking in a personal context. leave the government out.)

1. Wouldn`t that count as evading reality? (For, in reality - I`m single)

2. If the only reason for masturbating is pleasure, would that not count as hedonism? can a man "living QUA man" masturbate?

3. Sex is depicted by Rand as a "celebration of one`s existence". Is is moral to celebrate by myself?

4. Is it moral to watch ("unspeakbly disguisting"/AR) pornography, for assistance in masturbation?

what is moral is soley based on the what the individual thinks.to you pornography may seem (unspeakably disguisting but to another it may seem very relaxing,pleasurable.

isnt it safer to watch pornography than to engage in actual sex which can lead to stds or consception of a baby which could lead to unwanted responsibility of dealing with that baby or other emotional problems

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what is moral is soley based on the what the individual thinks.to you pornography may seem (unspeakably disguisting but to another it may seem very relaxing,pleasurable.

This is wrong. Morality doesn't consist of: Do whatever you feel like doing.

It's not arbitrary.

isnt it safer to watch pornography than to engage in actual sex which can lead to stds or consception of a baby which could lead to unwanted responsibility of dealing with that baby or other emotional problems

The goal of life is not safety. You cannot live that way on principle.

Sex is more pleasureable than masturbation. And if you do it with someone you know and care for (and do not **** everything that didn't hide at the count of three), the problems of sexual diseases is practically zero.

To get no babys, use condoms or the pill and if you still get pregnant/make her pregnant, there is still the possibility of abortion.

You can't just live a sexless life because you could get diseases or pregnancy. These are natural risks.

It's like not eating because there could be poison in your food.

In general:

masturbation is completely moral if it is the best you can get.

;)

[Edited out vulgarity - CF]

Edited by Capitalism Forever

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YGoldenberg, I suggest the best way to tackle these questions is to expand on each one of them a little more.

1. Wouldn`t that count as evading reality? (For, in reality - I`m single)
What does evasion entail? What types of actions? Is it the avoidance of something? If so, of what?

2. If the only reason for masturbating is pleasure, would that not count as hedonism? Can a man "living QUA man" masturbate?
Are hedonistic actions wrong because they give one pleasure or in spite of it? Is it the pleasure itself that is the problem? Is the pleasure itself destructive of life?

3. Sex is depicted by Rand as a "celebration of one`s existence". Is it moral to celebrate by myself?
If one considers this in isolation, the obvious answer seems to be 'yes'. In what sense is sex a celebration of one's existence?

4. Is it moral to watch ("unspeakbly disgusting"/AR) pornography, for assistance in masturbation?
There's a pretty long discussion of pornography in another thread. I suggest you work through the 'non-porn masturbation' example first, and then move on to that.

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The goal of life is not safety. You cannot live that way on principle.

Sex is more pleasureable than masturbation. And if you do it with someone you know and care for (and do not fuck everything that didn't hide at the count of three), the problems of sexual diseases is practically zero.

To get no babys, use condoms or the pill and if you still get pregnant/make her pregnant, there is still the possibility of abortion.

You can't just live a sexless life because you could get diseases or pregnancy. These are natural risks.

It's like not eating because there could be poison in your food.

In general:

masturbation is completely moral if it is the best you can get.

:P

I agree with Felix on this one, in that masturbation is completely moral if you have no [moral] alternatives open to you.

I do not think it is neccesarily evading reality to masturbate when you are single. You are not masturbating in order to convince yourself (at least in the longterm, you might imagine that you are not single during the act, but this is OK, as long as you keep the fantasy seperate from your identification of reality) that you are not single I would presume

You are masturbating in order to provide yourself pleasure in the absence of having someone to provide it. It it not hedonism unless perhaps you take it to the extreme, it is not immoral to provide yourself a dose of physical pleasure as long as you keep in mind that the better alternative would be sex with another person and that you should at least be open to obtaining this morally (ie with a person you love).

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Pleasure is innocent until proven guilty. Unless you are faking (which is distinct from fantasizing), masturbation is perfectly moral -- whether or not you're in a relationship. The fact that pleasure is not the standard of value, doesn't mean that pleasure as such isn't a value. It is, so long as it doesn't undercut a higher value.

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Like time lol

Well, that actually raises an interesting question: what is the value of time? I would argue that as such it doesn't have any, except in the sense that extending the amount of it you have is generally a good thing. The value of time equals the value of what you're doing with it. If you are pursuing, gaining, or enjoying a value, then you're not "wasting time." Unless you're compulsive about it, masturbation certainly doesn't fall under that category.

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(ie with a person you love).

Hey I think it was Woody Allen that said, "Don't knock masturbation, at least it's sex with someone you love!"

:P:wub:

Edited by Username

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This thread makes me want to gougue my eyes out.

Answer this question: what value does masturbation give you? What are its costs?

Question is so simple as to be absurd.

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Pleasure is innocent until proven guilty. Unless you are faking (which is distinct from fantasizing), masturbation is perfectly moral -- whether or not you're in a relationship. The fact that pleasure is not the standard of value, doesn't mean that pleasure as such isn't a value. It is, so long as it doesn't undercut a higher value.

Agreed. Until this post, I kept thinking, why is masturbation only moral when it's the only option available? It's moral no matter what (unless, as Don pointed out, it becomes a compulsive behavior). And if it's the only option available to you at the time, I'd almost say it's immoral not to masturbate.

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This thread makes me want to gougue my eyes out.
There's no need for that. A nun once told me that if a boy masturbates, he'll go blind.

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To elaborate and correct all the errors made previously:

There is never a case "against" any actions arbirarily hanging out in the middle of goddamn nowhere. In fact, there is never a successful negative case for anything - thats the agnostics' trick, and false logic.

Pleasure is not 'innocent until proven guilty.' As someone else mentioned, pleasure is the sensation of the accomplishment of goals in line with your sense of life - and that can be mighty far off. You should not be lead around by your emotions, you should be lead around by your logical mind.

Anyway, the proper process is to prove a case for masturbation. What is its purpose in your life? What are its costs? Are there any alternatives that are better/more efficient with your time?

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Pleasure is not 'innocent until proven guilty.' As someone else mentioned, pleasure is the sensation of the accomplishment of goals in line with your sense of life - and that can be mighty far off. You should not be lead around by your emotions, you should be lead around by your logical mind.

Pancho - I think you miss the point of pleasure being innocent until proven guilty. You are correct in that the mere fact that something is pleasurable does not necessarily mean that it is appropriate. That would be hedonism. At the same time, however, the mere fact that something is pleasurable does not necessarily make it inappropriate or evil. That would be Puritanism.

As for the "sensation of the accomplishment of goals in line with your sense of life," I think that comes closer to "happiness" (in the Objectivist sense of the term) than "pleasure" - though Ayn Rand described happiness a bit more broadly as the achievement of one's values rather than specific goals.

Pleasure is something much more immediate and does not necessarily have to tied to a goal to be experienced or to be appropriate. For example, I consider eating certain flavors of ice cream to be a pleasure. While it is true that eating ice cream could be the reward I give myself for accomplishing certain goals, it doesn't have to be in order for it to be a pleasure. So long as I don't eat too much of it, ice cream is a pleasure independent of any goals I might have - and that can be one of the things that makes it a big value. For example, perhaps someone is really focused on some very difficult goal that is so far off and requires certain things that are beyond his ability to directly control to work out just right and he begins to fall into the mood of growing weary and doubtful. Taking a break from everything, temporarily forgetting one's goals and difficulties and "living in the moment" by doing something pleasurable such as eating ice cream can help restore one's proper perspective on things. Or, to take another example, let's say that some sort of goal you have been passionately towards for a very long time suddenly ends up in ruin for whatever reason and the whole endeavor becomes a colossal failure. Obviously something like that is a huge disappointment and, if the achievement of the goal was a high value, it can even be discouraging and depressing. Here, too, "living in the moment" and doing something that one considers to be pleasurable such as eating ice cream can help restore one's perspective by reminding one in a very concrete way that the world is a wonderful place and that life is wonderful.

Of course, eating too much ice cream would be a bad thing. And not showing up for a major exam so that one could eat ice cream instead would obviously be a very bad and irrational thing to do. Context is everything. The essential point is what DPW said: "The fact that pleasure is not the standard of value, doesn't mean that pleasure as such isn't a value. It is, so long as it doesn't undercut a higher value."

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Pancho - I think you miss the point of pleasure being innocent until proven guilty. You are correct in that the mere fact that something is pleasurable does not necessarily mean that it is appropriate. That would be hedonism. At the same time, however, the mere fact that something is pleasurable does not necessarily make it inappropriate or evil. That would be Puritanism.
Good thing I never said or implied that then, huh?

Pleasure is something much more immediate and does not necessarily have to tied to a goal to be experienced or to be appropriate. For example, I consider eating certain flavors of ice cream to be a pleasure. While it is true that eating ice cream could be the reward I give myself for accomplishing certain goals, it doesn't have to be in order for it to be a pleasure. So long as I don't eat too much of it, ice cream is a pleasure independent of any goals I might have - and that can be one of the things that makes it a big value.

So ice cream in now way contributes to your goals, like say survival?

It has calories. You certainly need to intake them.

There is no 'neutral' ground, an action either contributes to your life/happiness (and is good) or destroys it (and is bad.)

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So ice cream in now way contributes to your goals, like say survival?

I assume you mean "in no way." Neither does eating well-cooked flavorful food as opposed to, say, Ramen noodle soup and vitamin supplements.

It has calories. You certainly need to intake them.

It also tastes good. If nutrition were the only thing involved (since it's what's necessary to insure survival), there'd be no reason to choose between ice cream and bland processed algae or unflavored tofu. (Indeed, the latter might well be better on nutritional grounds.) But there's more than survival, there's enjoyment of life.

There is no 'neutral' ground, an action either contributes to your life/happiness (and is good) or destroys it (and is bad.)

Yes, and you shouldn't confound survival and happiness, as you did in your reply.

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So ice cream in now way contributes to your goals, like say survival?

It has calories. You certainly need to intake them.

Sure one needs to intake calories in order to survive and ice cream certainly has calories. But so does cold gruel and raw potatos which can be had for far less expense. Ask yourself why on a summer evening in a big city you will see people standing in line to buy ice cream yet you never see people lined up to buy potatos. Since potatos can be obtained for less expense of both irreplaceable time and hard earned money, do you think this reflects badly on the people who are standing in line for ice cream?

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Pleasure is not 'innocent until proven guilty.'

As a matter of fact, it is. Pleasure is a sensation indicating that something is conducive to life. You have to argue that this sensation is misleading in a given case.

As someone else mentioned, pleasure is the sensation of the accomplishment of goals in line with your sense of life - and that can be mighty far off. You should not be lead around by your emotions, you should be lead around by your logical mind.

You're confusing pleasure and happiness, as pointed out before, and you're confusing emotions and pleasure as well.

Anyway, the proper process is to prove a case for masturbation. What is its purpose in your life? What are its costs? Are there any alternatives that are better/more efficient with your time?

What is the purpose of cooking flavorful food from scratch? It takes a lot of time and the only difference between eating that food and something bland or prepackaged is that the taste is (presumably) better. And think of the costs--you could be spending your time and money on accomplishing your long-term goals rather than the immediate pleasure of the good taste. And of course there are alternatives that are more efficient with your time--you could heat up some Ramen noodle soup, slam it down, and go back to your long-term goals.

Similarly, what's the point in painting the walls of your house a bright color that pleases you? It costs time and money for nothing but pleasureful color. For that matter, why not just live in a dry cave? It costs less money and it protects your property just as well if you install a door. I've seen from your pictures that you don't live in a cave. So tell us, since pleasure is not innocent until proven guilty, what your argument is for living in a bright, well-lit place. Presumably it gives you some degree of pleasure to do so. So how do you know it's good? Have you teased it out down to the roots? If not, then you're acting on range of the moment emotions, by your argument, and you need to stop right now and determine how it contributes to your long-term goals and how it's not harmful.

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You should also note that the need for sexual pleasure is a basic human need like the need for food and sleep. It is an inbuilt motivation mechanism in every animal. So, as it is aiding your life to eat it is also aiding your life to have sexual satisfaction. As I said, masturbation is just the fast-food version of it.

Try to get the real thing.

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As a matter of fact, it is. Pleasure is a sensation indicating that something is conducive to life. You have to argue that this sensation is misleading in a given case.
Pleasure is never misleading, not in any case. Pleasure always correctly indicates that a certain action benefits your immediate sensational physical being. Such is the nature of sensations, they are immediate, temporary, and their only context is the duration of their effect. For that duration, they are always physically beneficial to the life of the being experiencing them.

I hope it's clear how irrelevant the sensation of pleasure is when considering the life of man qua man. We are not primarily physical beings, we must consider the long term effects of an action to the thinking conceptual beings that we are. By that I mean that the positive sensation of pleasure is neither necessarily positive or necessarily negative to one's life.

Clearly pleasure cannot be considered innocent (ie. beneficial) unless shown otherwise. The onus is on you to demonstrate that a given action actually benefits your life. You can't assume that it benefits your life unless someone demonstrates that it doesn't - such a demonstration could take years, or your whole life.

So, what to do?

Well, if pleasure itself is not a guide, then can it be ignored when considering the morality of a given action? Not really, because any action consumes resources, takes energy, takes time, requires you to sacrifice other things to do it. Therefore, seeking pleasure (in and of itself) should be considered immoral unless otherwise proven, not because of some puritanism, but becaue of the reality that it takes an amount of time and consumes resources. In fact all actions should be considered immoral unless shown otherwise.

I can't believe that this thread has gone this long without someone pointing out that the immorality in masturbation, the reason why it's immoral if sensational pleasure is all you seek, is becaue of what you're doing in your mind at the time. What you're doing with your thoughts. And in fact, this is the key to understanding when masturbation is moral.

Masturbation is moral, ie. it is a value to your life, and contributes to your goals, when you are fantasising about your ideal partner. When done in this way you are experiencing such a vision of clarity and focus as to assist you to both crystalise your view of your ideal partner, and celebrate the love you feel for that person (or the love you will feel if you've not yet met them). In the absence of this, it's an immoral waste of time, and an immoral clouding of your mind in order to experience a sensational pleasure that does not stem from an emotional connection of values originating in the mind. Ie. you've adopted the posture of a dog humping someone's leg to get off.

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Such abstract posturing of such a simple problem, and then such vivid descriptions of what our options are on the matter.

I like what Don said: just because pleasure isn't the standard of value doesn't necessarily exclude it from being a value. Further, it appears some would have us completely obliviate the physical aspects of the sexual mechanism, as if to take note of such things is to be beastly.

The sexual pleasure derived from masturbation is drastically different than the sexual pleasure derived from intercourse with a partner: in the former the mind is free to fantasize, in the latter it isn't and fantasizing would be dishonest. So, let us focus on the former.

First: What is the content of the fantasy while you are masturbating? Are you fantasizing about sex with Hillary Clinton? If so, what turns you on about her? What value would sex with her bring to your life?

Second: Presuming you are deriving value from this act, are you doing it at the cost of some other greater value? It would seem that some here would have us think that masturbation costs a great deal of time and resources, presuming that time itself is a value. Here again I agree with Don: to discuss time as a value means to discuss the productive activity one could engage in during that time, i.e. the value one could be attaining with the time. Time, as such, is not a value in some absolute sense. Resources? What resources, are you kidding me?

Anyway, as I said, don't confuse yourself with almost entirely irrelevant questions like "Am I thinking of my ideal?" as was stated here, just ask yourself: "What am I doing?," "Is this a value to me and how?," and "Am I doing this at the cost of some greater value?" I.e., keep the focus on how this act benefits you, and why.

Edited for correction of conceptual error. - Felipe

Edited by Felipe

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Masturbation is moral, ie. it is a value to your life, and contributes to your goals, when you are fantasising about your ideal partner. When done in this way you are experiencing such a vision of clarity and focus as to assist you to both crystalise your view of your ideal partner, and celebrate the love you feel for that person (or the love you will feel if you've not yet met them). In the absence of this, it's an immoral waste of time, and an immoral clouding of your mind in order to experience a sensational pleasure that does not stem from an emotional connection of values originating in the mind. Ie. you've adopted the posture of a dog humping someone's leg to get off.

So let me get this straight... You say that masturbation is moral if and only if one fantasizes about an ideal partner while doing it? That the physical pleasure of masturbation is valueless and immoral in the absence of fantasy? What could possibly be immoral about physical pleasure as such?

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Pleasure is never misleading, not in any case. Pleasure always correctly indicates that a certain action benefits your immediate sensational physical being. Such is the nature of sensations, they are immediate, temporary, and their only context is the duration of their effect. For that duration, they are always physically beneficial to the life of the being experiencing them.

No, pleasurable sensations are not "always physically beneficial" to the person experiencing them. Shooting up heroin is pleasurable, but it is not "physically beneficial." Its pleasure is misleading.

I hope it's clear how irrelevant the sensation of pleasure is when considering the life of man qua man. We are not primarily physical beings, we must consider the long term effects of an action to the thinking conceptual beings that we are. By that I mean that the positive sensation of pleasure is neither necessarily positive or necessarily negative to one's life.

(Italics added.) Nonsense. What is the use of living life without taking pleasure in your existence? Is your sense of happiness that divorced from the simple enjoyment of life? And humans are physical beings with physical needs, which you've come close to setting up in opposition to man's conceptual nature. Pleasure is life-affirming; it reminds you of why life is worth living as a conceptual being.

Clearly pleasure cannot be considered innocent (ie. beneficial) unless shown otherwise. The onus is on you to demonstrate that a given action actually benefits your life. You can't assume that it benefits your life unless someone demonstrates that it doesn't - such a demonstration could take years, or your whole life.

First, it's not that hard to show that something is harmful to human life. Second, pleasure as such does benefit your life--it makes it richer, fuller, and more enjoyable. The issues are whether certain pleasurable acts (1) are worth the time and effort of pursuing them, and (2) have deleterious consequences. These are separate issues, though you seem to have run them together. Moreover, pleasure is both physical and mental (and thus involving the conceptual faculty on some level, if only in the recognition of something pleasurable as something to enjoy or that makes life worth living); by opposing "purely sensational pleasure" to the pleasure obtained from accomplishing your goals, you've set up the conceptual faculty as a censor over the purely animalistic responses of the unruly physical side of humanity--a side you then sneer at as not the primary aspect of man's being. It's a view a lot closer to Saint Augustine's than you might recognize. More to the point, it requires you to view all pleasure as a threat to you unless you can show it to be fully "conceptual." That's a recipe for rationalization and repression.

Well, if pleasure itself is not a guide, then can it be ignored when considering the morality of a given action? Not really, because any action consumes resources, takes energy, takes time, requires you to sacrifice other things to do it. Therefore, seeking pleasure (in and of itself) should be considered immoral unless otherwise proven, not because of some puritanism, but becaue of the reality that it takes an amount of time and consumes resources. In fact all actions should be considered immoral unless shown otherwise.

There you go again, equating valuing pleasure with hedonism: "seeking pleasure (in and of itself)." Pleasure is a value, and the question here is whether its value to you is greater than that of the time and effort you expend. Contrary to your claim that "all actions should be considered immoral unless shown otherwise," all actions should be weighed carefully for their pros and cons, and if in your context of knowledge the action is more beneficial than the alternatives, then you should do it; if it turns out you were wrong, then you'll know in the future that doing it under the same circumstances would be immoral. If you know an action is immoral, then you should not do it, but otherwise you should act on your best judgement--such as, to return to the issue at hand, the case of whether to do something pleasurable with your time. If you have no grounds for thinking that pleasurable action is harmful, then you should weigh whether it's worth the time and effort. Maybe you'll be wrong, but that's a failure of knowledge, not morality.

I can't believe that this thread has gone this long without someone pointing out that the immorality in masturbation, the reason why it's immoral if sensational pleasure is all you seek, is becaue of what you're doing in your mind at the time. What you're doing with your thoughts. And in fact, this is the key to understanding when masturbation is moral.

And I suppose children are immoral as well when they play make-believe without actually intending some day to become a cowboy or a doctor or what-not. They derive pleasure from it, but think what they're doing to their thoughts! They're faking reality without fantasizing about their actual ideals, and spending time that could be better spent on homework or meeting their long-term goals or whatnot.

Masturbation is moral, ie. it is a value to your life, and contributes to your goals, when you are fantasising about your ideal partner. When done in this way you are experiencing such a vision of clarity and focus as to assist you to both crystalise your view of your ideal partner, and celebrate the love you feel for that person (or the love you will feel if you've not yet met them). In the absence of this, it's an immoral waste of time, and an immoral clouding of your mind in order to experience a sensational pleasure that does not stem from an emotional connection of values originating in the mind. Ie. you've adopted the posture of a dog humping someone's leg to get off.

"Clouding of your mind"? Give me a break. When you masturbate, you derive pleasure from imagining yourself having sex with someone desirable on whatever level. This is no more or less immoral than children playing make-believe, and it serves the same purpose of deriving life-affirming pleasure from the exercise of your imagination. Fantasizing about making love to someone you find attractive on some level even though you'd not bother to sleep with her (him) in real life is not harmful to your mind; it's a response to some values (though not to all that person's values or, perhaps, to your own highest values), it's a recognition of your response to those values, and it's an act of imagination that makes those values come alive to the mind. (This includes masturbation even when you're in a committed relationship, which I don't consider wrong so long as it isn't done in preference to sex with your partner.) As for that final rhetorical flourish of yours that again sets up purely physical pleasure as something animalistic that must be rigorously censored by the conceptual mind, I'll remind you that sexuality is conceptual in humans and is tied to values--the equivalent for a man of the purely physical and entirely unconceptual act of humping someone's leg is to finger your prostate to automatically trigger ejaculation. Not too many men masturbate that way.

Edited by Adrian Hester

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