"The Pedagogy of Pleasure"
Dr. Oliver Halstead’s most recent article, “The Benefits of ‘Churning’: A Case Study,” revolutionizes the practice of two-handed masturbation. Prior to his groundbreaking research, the most notable commentary on this unorthodox method of self-pleasure was Dr. Earl Windham’s 2022 article entitled “Four new ways to make a mess,” in which the longtime Rice University professor famously advocated for the controversial “Plug and Tug” technique. Several members of the academic community have been quick to respond to Halstead’s research with praise.
However, Dr. Marta Ruddy, a premier theorist in the field of pleasure studies, remarked that Halstead’s arguments will “rub many people the wrong way” (Ruddy 321). This academic discussion has sparked a major pedagogical debate in the Department of Pleasure Studies at Johnson Institute for the Study of Man, a new college at Fordham University (FU). The underlying concern of Ruddy—and nearly all pleasurologists—is one of effective instruction: what should be the focus of an undergraduate pleasure course?
In her oft-anthologized persuasive piece “The Best is Yet to Cum: How to Get Students to Relax, Release, and Produce,” Ruddy passionately defends the notion that, though process should not be ignored in 100 level pleasure classes, the product is ultimately what validates a person’s potential. In her recent response, she claims, “[Halstead’s] insistence on the ‘Samurai Stroke’ puts an inordinate amount of value on the process and not enough emphasis on the product” (318).
Linda Jennings, Paul Deen, and Rhonda Lunae assert that the new findings have an inherent misogynistic tilt: “It’s difficult to extrapolate too profoundly on research that focuses entirely on a single case-study of a non-lubricated, ambidextrous male subject. Having said that, this study jerks the issue back into relevance after an especially dry period that lacked valuable theoretical questioning” (Jennings 36).
These voices of dissention provoked me to thrust myself deeper into the pedagogical implications of teaching a multi-handed approach to beginning masturbators. The fact that such a vast number of major players in the field of masturbatory studies felt compelled to join the conversation indicates the significance of this issue from a curricular standpoint.
During a recent visit to the Department of Pleasure Studies at FU, I held interviews with several of the professors and a handful of graduate students enrolled in the J.I.S.M. Master’s program. Through my roundtable sessions, I have come to the conclusion that inserting a multi-hand approach into a beginning pleasure course runs the risk of elevating masturbation discourse to a level of complexity beyond the capabilities of inexperienced self-pleasurers. Though I do not intend to imply the teaching of a multi-hand approach is necessarily detrimental, I believe the focus should be on pounding out the fundamentals before anything else arises.
Third-year graduate student Miles Guthrie—founder of the popular “M.A.sturbators” club at FU—was very vocal about his concerns: “It’s amazing how far I’ve come in this program. But if I didn’t have a firm grasp on the standard ‘Dice Roll’ method, I never would have been able to progress into the more nuanced strokes such as the ‘Standing Hunch & Punch,’ the ‘Sparrow’s Landing,’ or the ‘Sprinting Reindeer.’ You’ve got to start slow and build up.” First-year grad student Annie Heyward echoes similar sentiments, while adding, “I mean, you can’t expect a student fresh out of high school to properly utilize the anus. That’s not something that’s taught in most secondary schools. You can only learn something like that in college.”
Halstead understands the concerns, but employs rational responses to the criticisms. He says, “I’m not saying we should go in on day one and ask female students to perfect the ‘Clay Molder’s Revenge,’ I’m more realistic than that. However, if we don’t introduce students to the idiosyncrasies of certain pedagogies—particularly those that students are more than capable of mastering fairly quickly—how can we expect to arouse interest in pleasure departments around the country?” He points to a 2037 study of graduating seniors at Texas A&M University that reveals only 27% of male students and 16% of female students could achieve orgasm consistently through opposite hand stimulation. “What’s the point of instruction if students can’t even masturbate with their opposite hand by the time they graduate? What are we really training our graduates to accomplish in the real world? The expectations have to grow, classes must get harder.”
Second year associate professor Gordon McBall offers an approach that some view as moderate. Others contest it on the grounds that it is, actually, too radical. “Part of the issue is that masturbation is not being taught in specific disciplines. For instance, why should a 100 level pleasure instructor teach aviation masturbation if most students never intend on flying a plane? Would it be unreasonable to expect schools of aviation to teach pilots to masturbate?
“If disciplines took on the onus of responsibility, pleasure courses could then devote themselves to more meaningful endeavors such as more effective methods for mutual masturbation.”
Halstead disagrees, saying, “Self-pleasure is—and should be—its own discipline. Engineers have enough on their hands without adding another G.E. course like History of Fingers to Genitalia.”
Dr. Ruddy remained in adamant opposition to the notion that a change needed to be made. “If a student is struggling with a particular grip or angle—the ‘Strangled Velociraptor’ for men and ‘Hey, Mr. DJ’ for ladies come to mind—sometimes the only option is to meet during my office hours and give them a one-on-one session. I don’t have enough office hours to teach all 130 of my students to masturbate individually, some of them simply must figure it out during class.”
One graduate student, a third-year from Los Angeles, California, simplified the issue entirely stating: “Listen, when most kids come to college, they are just trying to get their degree. Walking in on a group of professors masturbating is something they’ll put up with. Everyone does. They’ll sit through it, they’ll write about, but they won’t retain most of it. At the end of the day, students just want to get off and get out.”
This opinion begs an even greater question: does knowledge of two-handed masturbation even correlate to greater success or satisfaction in life? Critics are torn on the issue.
“There are examples everywhere of successful individuals who were notorious single-handers. You see single-handedness often in the field of technology and computers,” conceded Halstead. “That does not mean it is meaningless to introduce, however. If no one had introduced Gandhi to the notion of social justice, the world would have lost out considerably. The same might be said one day about ‘churning.’
“Ultimately, altering beginning curriculum at this point would be premature. Departments will have to think long and hard about this before reaching a climax and deciding.”
The fact that Halstead himself holds reservations leads me to believe that it would be judicious to rub out all of the kinks with this issue before shooting off in an unknown direction. We must also consider beginning masturbators who might be hesitant to alter the methods they’ve learned at home or at summer camps from their youth.
“If professors ask me to ‘Bump the Volleyball,’ I’ll bite my lip and give it a shot,” said an incoming freshman undergraduate from Helena, Montana. “But if they make us do the ‘Upside Down Lightsaber’ or the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ I’ll just drop the class.”
One day we might all find ourselves looking back and realizing that two-handed masturbation was merely a fad, a fleeting trend. With all of that said, the academic discussion must be taken seriously until those realizations—and hopefully all professors and students at the university level—finally come.
Halstead, Oliver. “The Benefits of ‘Churning’: A Case Study.” Open Access Journal of Masturbation. 11.6 (2039): 77-102. Print.
Jennings, Linda, Paul Deen, and Rhonda Lunae. “An Analysis of Multi- and Opposite-Handed Approaches to Self-Pleasure.” Touching Parts 8.8 (2039): 32-50. Print.
Ruddy, Marta. “The Best is Yet to Cum: How to Get Students to Relax, Release, and Produce.” Ejaculation Nation (2032): 241-256. Print.
——. “Response to Halstead’s ‘Churning’ Case Study.” Open Access Journal of Masturbation 11.7 (2039): 318-322. Print.
Windham, Earl. “Four new ways to make a mess.” Human Body International 1.14 (2022): 46-88. Print.