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Distributed for Reaktion Books

With the Hand

A Cultural History of Masturbation

Distributed for Reaktion Books

With the Hand

A Cultural History of Masturbation

People call it everything from “walking your dog” to “scratching your bean.” Women usually do it at home. Men, it sometimes seems, do it everywhere. Some people think it’s healthy; others think it is a sin that will send you straight to hell. But while many people declare that everyone’s doing it, no one actually talks about it—outside the pages of Cosmo, masturbation is among the most taboo of topics, not suitable for polite society or public conversation.

Mels van Driel boldly breaks this silence in order to help the world overcome its diffidence toward solo sex in With the Hand. Consulting everyone from doctors and sexologists to feminists and chauvinists, van Driel explains what masturbation actually is and describes the latest discoveries and developments on the subject. He also looks to theologians, historians, and philosophers to understand perceptions of masturbation across cultures and religions throughout history. Covering a great number of topics, including age, location, and frequency, as well as the effects of circumcision and the ability to have multiple orgasms, With the Hand also explores masturbation in art, literature, poetry, and music.
Addressing the physical, mythical, and mythological, this often humorous and always informative book clears up the confusion surrounding this universal, and universally unmentionable, topic.

255 pages | 60 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2012

Gender and Sexuality

History: General History

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“It makes for compelling reading, partly because van Driel has a fine sense of humour, but also because he knows his subject, in particular the causes of the taboo surrounding masturbation.”

Sunday Times (UK)

“An enthusiastic, amusing and eye-opening exploration of a topic which remains disappointingly taboo.”

New Scientist

“When [van Driel’s] stethoscope is about his neck, the M.D. employs all the unvarnished plainspokenness of any health care professional. But when he entertains historical, literary, and other arts-and-humanities perspectives, he is as curious and open to surprise as any cultural critic.”

Chronicle of Higher Education

With the Hand does a great job of looking at an entire range of ways that masturbation is and has been perceived over the years. Van Driel presents these disparate views and conceits in a fairly objective manner. And that is what makes this a very good piece of writing. . . . Overall With the Hand is sometimes a bit steamy, and some of the opinions represented here will be inflammatory, but the topic is masturbation, after all.”

New York Journal of Books

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Ages, Locations and Frequencies
3. Education
4. Sex Aids
5. Animals
6. Doctors and Other Scientists
7. Culture, Religions and Philosophers
8. Writers and Poets
9. Entertainment
10. Artists
11. In Conclusion

Biographical Sources
Photo Acknowledgements

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