I recently watched a movie entitled 'Teeth.' The movie (which wasn't very good but I digress), an indie horror with some comedic elements (it mostly failed on both fronts....some of it was amusing, none of it was scary, but again, digressing...), is about a very religious teenage girl who has taken a vow of 'purity' (aka abstinence) and goes around to other schools prattling on to younger kids and other teens about the 'evils' of sex and how it's only right to save your 'gift' until marriage, and blah blah.
Anyways, one day, this chick is sexually assaulted by a guy that she was starting to date. Not long after this guy forcefully enters her, his penis is bitten off and he dies. You see, her vagina has a set of teeth inside of it (hence the name of the movie) that clamp down and bite anything that enters her, unless she wants it in there and is completely comfortable (this aspect of her fucked up sexuality is discovered later in the movie). Any discomfort and CHOMP! So, throughout the course of the movie, a few penises and some fingers get bitten off, and magx01 gets a laugh or two watching this happen.
Watching this movie got me thinking (and in the mood to rant) about religion and its attitude towards human sexuality. One obvious area of immense damage done by religion is homosexuality. Another is premarital sex (abstinence being a big focus of the movie in question). However, I am going to avoid these particular aspects of sexuality for this blog and focus specifically on masturbation.
Masturbation was another area of sexuality addressed in the movie, although to a much lesser degree than abstinence/premarital sex. Masturbation only really came up once in the movie. Basically, the main character had the inclination to masturbate one night while in bed. She was having a hard time sleeping, and she was thinking of the boy that she liked (the one who's penis her vagina ended up biting off later in the movie when he tried to rape her......and yes, I actually just typed that sentence lol) when she started to get turned on and her hand slowly started creeping towards her crotch. She slowly inched closer and closer towards her womanhood, but, predictably, just as she got close her ingrained Christian guilt mechanism kicked in and she stopped, expressing despair at her inability to be 'pure' in thought, wondering aloud, her voice full of despair “what's WRONG with me?!
This is a situation that plays out every at least once every 5 minutes in real life. A similar but slightly different situation, wherein the person in question actually goes through with the masturbation, and is then hit with the guilt, fear and shame, is also a regular occurrence in this stupid world of ours. Imagine an 18 year old religious kid who just masturbated, and is now filled with shame, regret, guilt, and fear. This person has been repeatedly told that masturbation is a sin. An affront to god; a dirty, shameful, unclean, horrible act, and, in some people's theology, one that can land you in hell. Imagine for a moment what it would be like to be this person, if they truly believe what they have been taught. This person will literally be afraid that they are going to be punished for all eternity for their 'sin.' They will feel immense guilt and shame, and will internalize all of this, leading to a singular, inevitable message: they are a dirty, shameful, evil doer. A fuck up. A sinner.
What the fuck kind of message is that to send to your children!?
Imagine how low this person feels? In addition to that, imagine the terror? I mean, if you truly, honestly, really believe in hell, and you believe that masturbation can land you there.....wow. That would be absolutely horrifying. The psychological consequences of these feelings are potentially immense. We're talking risk of some serious psychological damage being done to people, and all of it stemming from one simple fact: religion needlessly demonizes a natural, healthy, positive, every day act; a normal part of life. It fills people with fear, shame, guilt, regret, self loathing, etc. for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
In addition to this, people's sex lives and sexual identities are being compromised. Hell, in the case of males, their physical health is possibly being compromised. Masturbation has scientifically demonstrated positive health effects in males; there are direct ties to prostate health. And this is actually independent of sexual activity engaged in with a partner.....Yes, once again, religion is not only wrong, it is scientifically, objectively, demonstrably wrong to a harmful degree. It is in direct opposition to known scientific fact.
And people wonder why individuals like myself speak so negatively about religion! Look at what it's doing to people! The only reason most of us aren't up in arms is that everyone's doing it. It's widely accepted tradition, and it has always been looked upon as a good thing. No, as a great thing. A holy thing. And who positions religion in such a terrific light? Why, religion, of course! And all the while this ubiquitous, supposedly 'holy' institution is doing significant damage to our kids. Amazingly, this damage is being perpetrated in part by their very own parents!
We're all raised to believe that religion is this great institution, a needed, positive facet of our lives, and no one questions this idea (an idea that again comes from the religions themselves). We are all indoctrinated into these religions from birth, basically, and we grow up parroting the things we are taught. Namely, religion is 'holy' and 'sacred' and to be respected. This cult of personality of sorts blinds us to the truth: religion does real and serious harm to a lot of people, and the psychology surrounding masturbation is but one of the manifestations of this harm.