My intimate sport where I play for immortality.
Masturbation is a team game. I play a team game with myself. Me and my body. Masturbation can be an act of self-knowledge. The fascination with one’s own body. The body cult. A moment when I subject my physicality to detailed exploration. I feel up the boundaries. I observe the reactions to impulses of both the body and mind. I sharpen my preferences.
Masturbation is an art.
An art requiring effort and knowledge. “The more knowledge a certain thing contains, the bigger the love,” says psychologist and philosopher Erich Fromm. Masturbation is one of the options of working with one’s sexuality. It’s autonomy and self-confidence in self-pleasing. It’s the courage to get to know your body, to understand it, to be, for a moment, in your own world independent of others – of those who are close to us, of random one-night stands, of all with whom we play different games afterwards.
Masturbation is a sport requiring training and preparation. It’s my intimate sport, my art, a game where the one knowing the rules the best is me. It’s a race with the result dependent on me. No one can outrun me in my game world, snatch my victory, but it’s up to me which league I will play. I might be fine with the regionals or I can go after the highest prize.
The regionals are excess pressure, a habit, an everyday reality. It’s plunging into a stereotype, non-innovativeness. We take masturbation as something granted, which exists in our lives. We’re doing it but don’t school ourselves any further, don’t explore the depths, don’t talk about it. It’s a basic need that escapes our more concentrated attention. Maybe it wants to escape our closer look because we don’t know what to do with it. It belongs to the area of the most confidential intimacies, which many of us won’t and can’t share; we don’t want to cultivate it, we feel shame. We are ashamed when we talk about it, we are ashamed when somebody else talks about it, we are ashamed when we are to admit that we, indeed, do it ourselves. A friend told me: “It’s a closed affair. You do it in the dark at night, lock yourself slowly, and are terribly quiet so no one can hear you. It’s something that you don’t want someone to know about you.” We feel shame in front of others and maybe we even feel shame in front of ourselves. “Because we are our own greatest judges. Why would we feel shame when no one else is present but us. And if you can’t handle it, you can’t probably even enjoy it then,” says another friend.
If I overcome this and promote masturbation to something more than a need I have to fulfil in the dark, quietly, under the covers – I will advance to a higher league where masturbation is confident, caring, authentic. It’s driven by a desire to know oneself, and to not only secretly refill some kind of deficit or fulfil a need. In that moment, I’ve built an invincible team, play the highest league and make the rules myself.
Masturbation is my world where I’m the front runner.
I’m a front runner and my prize is a little death. The feeling likened to death. ‘La petite Mort’ meaning ‘the little death’ is a French poetic term for an orgasm. It’s a collapse where I lose consciousness for a moment. It’s an explosion of sensations and feelings where I’m out of it for a split second as if I had died. I come back but something has died in me at that moment. The effort to reach the finish line has died as I’ve reached it a second ago. But in my world, I can go on winning for eternity. I can win and die even multiple times a day. If I train, the death can be longer, stronger, deeper, more frequent.
I’m a front runner and I run for immortality.
TEXT / Zuzana Trachtová @zuzanatrachtova
BIO / Zuzana Trachtová graduated from anthropology and Romani studies. In previous years, she focused predominantly on Roma problematics and social topics, and then she started directing her attention towards the areas of culture and arts. Currently, she works for the Archa Theatre in Prague, Czechia. Zuzana pens up articles about the topics of masturbation, intimity and sexuality also for the recently-emerged, feministically-oriented Czech magazine Heroine.
ILLUSTRATIONS / Julie Daňhelová @julie_vesna
BIO / Julie Daňhelová (1998) is currently a second-year student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague at the Graphics II studio led by Vladimír Kokolia. She spent a year in Ottawa, Canada, where she encountered studies of cultural anthropology but, in the end, decided to pursue drawing and graphic work. In her creations, she often deals with archetypes and symbols, folk magic and mythology.
TRANSLATION / Františka Blažková