Ethical masturbation

Rule number one: Always ensure you have enthusiastic consent from yourself before you begin.


I went to yoga yesterday. It’s not something I usually do. Like my friend Ms Amazon – she’s a hundred foot tall and fearless – I don’t really like yoga. (Small voice: sorry Mother ManFriend). It’s just not my thing, but every few months I give it another go and then complain to ManFriend about how the muscles around my shoulders hurt.

Anyway, at this particular yoga place I went to, it’s something-or-other month, which vaguely means celibacy but this place interprets it as “not abusing your sexual energy”. Which sounds like a euphemism for not masturbating. As ProfPStrumpet said on twitter, “How can anyone be AGAINST masturbation???”.

After being told not to abuse our sexual energy, we got a rambling lecture throughout the hour on animal welfare. Sort of. It started with “if you’re not ready to become a vegetarian yet” – ooh, would you like some guilt with your downward dog? – and ended with the uses of animal products in mascara and hairbrushes. Being told not to use hairbrushes with natural bristles came up twice. For the record, I don’t have a hairbrush. If there’s one thing that will make curly hair look rubbish, it’s a hairbrush. And the two (unused) makeup brushes I own have cheap synthetic bristles, which surely creates environmental problems from the chemicals used in their manufacture and in the disposal of the brushes once they’re stuffed. Admittedly, at my current rate of use, I’ll probably have these ones for life.

Anyway, I had a look around the internet for some information on how they make brushes from boar bristles, and the information was surprisingly hard to find. And by hard to find, I mean I didn’t find it. Even PETA, an organisation I disagree with for their “animals as meat is not ok, but women as meat is the best thing ever” philosophy, didn’t have anything about how the brushes are manufactured. Just a list of companies that make synthetic brushes. My wholly uneducated opinion is that if the bristles are a by-product of killing the animal for meat, then I would prefer they be used for another product than be simply thrown away. If the animal is only killed for its bristles, then I am not ok with that. If anyone knows, can you post the link?

My problem with the yoga teacher is that if you’re going to get all ethical on people – people who have paid to be there for a completely different reason and it’s an open class, not one for serious yoghurts – then you need to be ethical about it. People make their own choices about what they’re ok with, whether that’s being vegetarian (which I was for 14 years), or buying ethical meat (I buy ethical meat from a friend’s private email list when I have the money, and in the interests of transparency, I work part time for an ethical meat company), or buying meat from the supermarket. Sure, mention it, but don’t lecture about it.

And if they want to woo themselves during the month of November, then that’s certainly not the yoga teacher’s business. As long as they do it ethically, of course.

22 responses to “Ethical masturbation

  1. This makes me feel much better about my standard yoga asana monologues e.g.

    “Ladies pull up that pelvic floor and imagine you are trying not to fart on the bus and standing tall in high heels at the same time”.

    This may be why I am destined never to teach yoga in the Inner City…

  2. I do yoga regularly, and my friend is a yoga teacher. The class you went to just sounds weird to me. Not on, yogi. Not on.

  3. “If there’s one thing that will make curly hair look rubbish, it’s a hairbrush.”
    Ain’t that the truth.
    And this sums up PETA’s philosophy beautifully:
    “animals as meat is not ok, but women as meat is the best thing ever”.

    Two great truths in one post! Good going for a Tuesday morning, NWN!

  4. Yep, if want a religious yoga class, I will look for one. Pfffffft!

  5. Shows that if you give someone a slight position of power and a captive audience then even the most mung bean loving pacifist can be tempted to inappropriately push their personal agenda on others. That’s shameful behaviour. You go to yoga classes to learn yoga, not for a lecture with a side order of judgement on your personal lifestyle choices, which in that context are nobody’s business but yours.

  6. thefirstJanineonthisblog

    I love hot yoga (and actually do it sometimes). What an opportunist that teacher was/is. That is your time. Hideous behaviour that hopefully will not stop you trying it out in 40 degrees Celsius.

  7. not saying the yoga teacher’s prosyletizing is at all appropritate, but i’m curious what you mean by “ethical meat”? all meat (and dairy/egg) production involves the unnecessary killing of animals solely to satisfy human desires (not needs) to satisfy our taste preferences. maybe it’s less cruel, but “ethical” seems a bit of a stretch.

    • Hi sarah f, welcome to the News with Nipples. For me, ethical meat is knowing where the animal came from, that it didn’t live its life in a cage being injected with drugs, and that it was killed in a humane way. Admittedly, that last part is difficult to know. I totally accept your point about ethical vs less cruel. Like I said in my post, everyone makes their own choices about what they are ok with. For me, I am ok with eating animals but I certainly don’t expect everyone else to share this view.

  8. Pingback: It’s Bettina Arndt time, again? | the news with nipples

  9. Ethical meat – is that like halal meat? How does one go about looking for a business that sells ethical meat??? I choose to eat meat (for the moment), but disagree with the practises used in getting most of our meat from the paddock to the supermarket. I’d be happier eating one or two ethical meat meals a week (due to the cost), than seven days of caged/drugged/sick/tortured, you know what I mean.
    Love the PETA comment – SO TRUE!!

    • Yes, the term is problematic. I don’t eat meat every day, but when I do I try to buy meat that comes from farms where I know the animals have been treated humanely, both during their life and when they are killed.

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