cover of book

With the Hand: A Cultural History of Masturbation
by Mels van Driel
translated by Paul Vincent
Reaktion Books, 2012
Cloth: 978-1-86189-919-4 | eISBN: 978-1-86189-957-6


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.

See other books on: Cultural History | Hand | Social Science | van Driel, Mels | Vincent, Paul
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