ColumnsWhat A World

What A World: The M Words

What do May, masturbation, and marriage have in common?

By Nancy Ford

NancyFord at deskWhat a dilemma, choosing a topic for my column this month.

 As some of you hobbyists may already know, May is National Masturbation Month. So naturally, I’ve spent the better part of this year looking forward to penning this particular piece:

 –Preparing punch lines, like “I just flew in for Masturbation Month, and, boy, are my arms tired!”

 –Tracing the origin of National Masturbation Month. It was founded in 1994 in a stroke of marketing genius by adult toy retailer Good Vibrations, after then-attorney general Dr. Joycelyn Elders was busted for advocating teaching masturbation in schools. (Insert your own stained blue-dress joke here.)

 –Learning new euphemisms, like “waxing the MiniCooper,” “dialing the rotary phone,” and, thanks to a new National Geographic television special, “waking the baby mammoth.”

 –Exploring how different religions view the subject. No surprise, the pope’s against it. Big surprise, James Dobson, former head of the straight-laced Focus on the Family, is for it. Hallelujah!

 –Laughing at superstitions, like those from 19th-century cracker creator Sylvester Graham. Graham warned that the devotee to self-pleasure “becomes a confirmed and degraded idiot [with] deeply sunken and vacant, glassy eyes, and livid, shriveled countenance and ulcerous, toothless gums, and fetid breath, and feeble broken voice, and emaciated and dwarfish and crooked body, and almost hairless head covered . . . with suppurating blisters and running sores—a blighted body, and a ruined soul.” Now we know what happened to Lord of the Rings’ Gollum.

 Yes, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time researching masturbation. I could go on and on. And on.

 But here’s the rub. Even the grand titillation of Masturbation Month seems insignificant in light of other recent events that beg coverage here: the spring thaw has brought with it a veritable avalanche of marriage equality.

 In April, Iowa, land of corn and cold, enacted marriage equality for all Iowans, regardless of gender. Then Vermont did the same, joining fellow New England states, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Then New York’s Governor David Paterson introduced legislation that would recognize marriage rights for same-sex couples under state law.

 What seemed like only moments later, our city’s Lord and Lady Lakewood, Joel and Victoria Osteen, were interviewed on CNN’s Larry King Live, firmly holding to their belief that marriage between a man and a woman is “God’s best.”

 “I’d love to see it stay between a male and a female, not knocking anybody else,” Mr. Osteen grinned.

Mrs. Osteen skirted King’s question asking her the harm in same-sex marriage. “We really want to see marriage between a man and a woman,” she hedged. “There [are] going to be people who get together and have relationships and have what they call their families, but I just think marriage should be sanctified by the church.”

 By “sanctified by the church,” Mrs. Osteen likely means sanctified by the Osteen’s own legendary megachurch, where members pay $50 to $650 to get hitched under the Lakewood brand. But not its gay and lesbian members.

 Then, erupting out of one of the gayest gaygaygay bastions in all the land, the Miss USA pageant, Miss California Carrie Prejean let loose this screed:

 “We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman,” she said.

 What is “opposite marriage”? Divorce?

 According to follow-up reports, one of Miss California’s family members, her sister, a second lieutenant in the Air Force, is a gay activist who supports same-sex marriage. “But she’s not gay,” Prejean later told Access Hollywood‘s Billy Bush with a don’t-ask-don’t-tell hush.

 Totally possible. Perhaps Prejean’s sister is one of those not-gay gay activists who, because of being constantly forced to stand in the shadow of her prettier, blonder, more popular sister, has sublimated her true desires into a big steaming pile of self-loathing that no tiara or scepter could assuage. Or not.

 All this random flagellation about marriage leads me to an ex. (Doesn’t it always?)

 This particular ex is getting married this month. To a man. Which is fine, since that’s where her heart now lies. She’s a smart, wonderful woman, and I’m sure he’s a fine young man. If I ever bump into her again, I’ll tell her I wish them the very best that life can give them. Really. Honest. No regrets.

 I won’t be attending their wedding, though. Granted, I wasn’t invited, but that’s probably best, anyhow. I’d hate to have to bite my tongue as the usher offered me his arm at the entrance of the sanctuary, inquiring, “Friend of the bride or friend of the groom?”

 “Bride,” I’d respond, wanting so badly to add, “and we were pretty friendly.”

 More than 1,100 various federal rights and privileges will immediately be bestowed upon my ex and her new husband as soon as their “I do”s are exchanged. They’ll never have to worry about unfair taxation or next-of-kin decisions that might have to be made in a hospital waiting room, or fight to adopt a child. Their love and commitment to each other is reason enough for them to receive all the rights and privileges that legal marriage has to offer without them being jerked around by preachers and politicians and pageant queens.

 I hope my ex agrees, deep down, that she and I would have deserved all those same rights and privileges had we reached a point in our relationship where we wanted to walk down that aisle together.

 Nonetheless, I do appreciate the fact the she’s marrying in May. I’ll be thinking of her all month.

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