BOSTON. Thousands of men and boys soaked in the cool fall air today as they filed down Beacon Street on their way to the Boston Common for the first annual “Walk for Self-Abuse,” a fund-raiser that hopes to bring public awareness to a problem that has historically been kept behind closed doors.
“I’m an out and proud onanist,” says Bill Leeds of Wayland, Massachusetts, using one of many euphemisms that victims of self-abuse use to cloak their disability for purposes of public discussion. Onan was the second son of Judah and in an incident recounted in the Book of Genesis, “spilled his seed on the ground” by withdrawing from his late brother’s wife before climax during intercourse. Dorothy Parker named her parakeet “Onan” because the bird also spilled his seed on the ground.
The theme of the march and the ensuing gala ball is “One Man Can’t Do it Alone,” a reference to the fact that self-abuse, referred to by medical professionals as “masturbation,” is typically a victimless crime that goes unreported, leading law enforcement and public health officials to offer widely varying estimates of the magnitude of the problem.
“Many men hide the damage they have suffered, because they are also the perpetrator,” says Sergeant Jim Hampy of the Massachusetts State Police. “It’s tough to file a complaint and risk self-retaliation for abusing yourself.”
The platinum sponsors of this year’s walk include Maxim Magazine and Vaseline Intensive Care Hand Lotion, a measure of the public acceptance that the affliction has gained through outreach and marketing.
“This disease strikes entire families,” says Norwell Fulsom of the Self-Abuse Society. “We had a father-son weenie roast at the march’s halfway point to highlight the generational tensions it reflects, and relieves.”
The highlight of gala dinner will be the presentation of the Ernest Borgnine-Jocelyn Elders Public Service Award, named after the Academy Award-winning actor who created a sensation by crediting his long life to frequent self-abuse, and the Surgeon General appointed by President Bill Clinton who proposed that masturbation be incorporated into the curriculum of public schools. Clinton eventually fired Elders, saying “Dr. Elders’ remark was entirely inappropriate. That sort of thing should be learned at home.” This first recipient of the award will be Jeffrey Toobin, the legal analyst for The New Yorker magazine and CNN who brought the age-old practice into the era of Zoom teleconferences.
Event organizer Fulsom tries to keep the marchers on track, but becomes frustrated when walkers use the men’s room at a gas station along the route for a prolonged “pit stop.” “C’mon guys,” he yells as he knocks on the restroom door. “What the hell is taking so long?”
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “The Spirit of Giving.”