Can abstinence from masturbation make you a man? The far right thinks so and support is growing | Company
The far right worships testosterone. Its followers believe that virility is best expressed through physical strength, an overflowing libido and a dominant attitude towards women. Groups that support former President Donald Trump, such as the proud boysand controversial figures like David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klanor the alt-right’s favorite psychologist, Jordan Peterson, all preach abstinence from masturbation: this aims to restore a masculinity that has supposedly been weakened by the rise of feminist consciousness and the quest for social justice.
It all started with NoFap, a growing online movement that invites men to give up masturbation for 90 days with the promise of countless health benefits. Its origin dates back to 2011, when a Reddit social network user named Alexander Rhodes created a forum in which he claimed that when men do not masturbate for seven days, their testosterone levels experience a 45% increase. The number of subreddit members grew to almost a million users and as a result the NoNutNovember challenge was born, in which participants refrain from masturbating or having an orgasm during the month of November.
The creators of NoFap insist on disassociating themselves from far-right rhetoric, but the truth is that a fundamentally misogynistic message has emerged from both the subreddit and YouTube comments that idealize masculine traits associated with high testosterone levels. For many users, women become a prize that they will get if they manage to go without masturbating for a specific period of time. Others go so far as to adopt abstinence to cure their homosexuality.
This anti-masturbation ethos has managed to cross borders into the online world and has become part of the rhetoric of radical groups like the Proud Boys, who have been accused of taking part in the assault on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021. Indeed, anyone wishing to join the far-right gang must go through an initiation ritual which consists of being beaten up by another member of the group, beating up an anti-fascist, getting a tattoo and masturbating once a month at most.
And they are not the only extremists waging a war against autoeroticism. Marcus Follin, a YouTuber aptitude guru with far-right sympathies, preaches against masturbation on his channel, with more than 100,000 subscribers. David Duke, former head of Ku Klux Klan and often described as America’s most notorious racist, argues that pornography is a Jewish conspiracy to trick men into masturbating instead of procreating. And psychologist Jordan Peterson, author of the best-selling 12 rules for lifealso repeatedly explained the problems that masturbation can cause in men’s lives.
The initial premise of NoFap forum is based on a report published by Zhejiang University in 2003, which shows that after a week without masturbating, testosterone levels increased by 40-45% in individuals who participated in the study. Members of NoFap tell of their own experiences and claim to have improved their sexual performance, self-confidence and even their memory. What is not discussed in the forum is that the same study states that after the first week testosterone values returned to normal levels.
In fact, several other studies have concluded that autoerotic abstinence has no effect on testosterone and that testosterone levels are actually higher after masturbation or sex with another person. Testosterone, in fact, has immense benefits in our body: it stimulates muscle development, improves sexual performance and reduces the feeling of fatigue. What is not proven is that these benefits are obtained by abstaining from masturbation.
Sex therapist Eva Moreno notes that refraining from indulging can become unhealthy. “One of the benefits of masturbation is to keep the male genital machinery in shape. Like any other part of the body, when you don’t use it, it atrophies, “explains this expert. Moreno also wonders if the image of the strong man with a vigorous member and great sexual performance is compatible with that of a person who does not masturbate. She says that self-pleasure helps us to get to know our body, to discover ” our moment of no return” and to “strengthen our pelvic floor muscles”.
“If you don’t make an effort to discover yourself sexually, your performance in bed will be frustrating,” she adds.
From the days of the Greek physician Galen until just a few decades ago, it was believed that health largely depended on the proper balance of bodily fluids, including sexual fluids. In the 18th century, the famous Swiss physician Samuel Auguste Tissot said that tuberculosis and other diseases were the consequence of solitary pleasure. Not to mention Dr. Edgard Spratling, who declared in 1895 that “the complete section of the dorsal nerves of the penis is a rational treatment for constant masturbatory routines, but perhaps too radical”.
No matter how strongly these ideas are debunked, there continue to be groups excited about increasing their masculinity within a hegemonic concept that has become very popular among some politicians. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has sometimes confessed that he had to cry in secret because his wife thought he was “the most macho of machos”. In the United States, Donald Trump brags about his sexual vigor one day and the size of his nuclear pimple the next.
This obstinate idea of the masculine occupied thinkers like Paul B. Preciado. In Testo Yonqui the philosopher explains that “testosterone is not masculinity” and that the only thing that can be said with certainty is that the effects of this hormone have been, until now, “the exclusive property of cis-men (whose gender identity and sex are assigned at birth coincide).