I remember learning that boys at my sleepover camp were playing a game they called Cum on a Cookie. Another name for it is a Circle Jerk. For those of you who have not had the good fortune to learn about this game, essentially a bunch of male-bodied people get in a circle and masturbate.
On a number of levels, as an adolescent sexual activity, this can be viewed positively. For one, it’s safe sex. It’s also an opportunity to check things out since many of us at this stage are curious about budding sexuality and bodies. Additionally, for some it’s a safe homoerotic experience. It might not be a welcome activity for everyone though, which is a downside.
Ahh, the cookie. It played a strange role in the group jerk off session since somebody had to eat the cookie. While I prefer to eat cookies without ejaculate from many, it’s perfectly okay for those who are into it. Pretty harmless nutritionally speaking. If people want to participate in a game where ‘the loser’ eats a cum-covered cookie, that’s their business. My challenge is with who the loser is. You see, in this version of the circle jerk, the loser is the last person to cum on said cookie.
So, in other words, this is competitive masturbation and rewards those who are quick or those who pleasure themselves for the least amount of time. Which is kind of backward, don’t you think? Shouldn’t people seek to prolong sexual pleasure? Make it last? Wouldn’t that benefit them in the long run? I suppose I see the challenge in that. The game could go on forever – players might distract themselves with thoughts of kittens, their great aunts or baseball stats. The game might go for so long that campers might miss arts ‘n crafts, sailing or tetherball.
This past year I saw The Mask You Live In, the documentary by the folks who made MissRepresentation. I sat on a panel after the screening and the audience engaged in a thoughtful discussion about the powerful film.
One question that someone asked was about how we can encourage boys and men to engage in self-love and self-care. What he asked specifically is ‘what are the ways that men take care of themselves and love themselves in light of a society that overwhelmingly disallows them to express emotions beyond happiness and anger?
Can men take and admit to taking bubble baths? With fragrant candles alight? Can men luxuriate in a foot massage or a facial? Could men appreciate the act of self-love in moisturizing? Simply rubbing cream into dry skin can be an act of self-care but is one that is typically seen as a feminine pursuit.
Of course, investing time and energy in one’s physical body isn’t the only way to show and experience self-love but focusing on our bodies is something overwhelmingly associated with the feminine. This notion that to be masculine means to not invest in our bodies (perhaps beyond pumping iron and seeking physical strength) means boys and men are too often disconnected from certain kinds of pleasure and care. How we treat our bodies may be related to how we manifest and experience emotion and the depth of connection we have to ourselves and to others.
Panelists spoke eloquently about helping men tap into their own vulnerability and develop a safety necessary to express a range of emotions.
I spoke about masturbation.
It is one fundamental way that we can show self-love, I think.
While it’s fine and reasonable for the act of ‘getting off’ to be just that – perfunctory and a very pleasant means to an end, there are not many messages reaching young men that masturbation can be more than that. On some level, our knowledge of anatomy and the sexual response cycle has reinforced the idea that female-bodied people need a slower, more ‘comprehensive’ arousal period while those with a dick just need to think about getting off and they are 3/4 of the way there.
Young men can learn that exploring their sensuality is available to them. They might discover that they delight in touch and sensations beyond the genital area. Messages that slowing down, exploring and loving their own bodies and discovering subtler pleasures may benefit men when engaged in sexual activity with a partner and also in areas well beyond their sexuality.