Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.
It is a subject that would make most governments blush, but officials in the Spanish region of Extremadura have launched a major programme to encourage what could be described as a more hands-on approach to sexuality.
The region’s socialist government has launched a €14,000 (£12,600) campaign aimed at teaching young people how best to set about “sexual self-exploration and the discovery of self-pleasure” – or to put it less delicately: masturbation.
“Pleasure is in your own hands” is the slogan of a campaign that has sparked political controversy and challenges traditional Roman Catholic views on people having sex, even on their own, for non-reproductive reasons.
The logical next step, of course, is to give licenses for masturbation to those who trained by the government in it, and arrest anyone found masturbating without that license. Indeed, there could be masturbation inspectors authorised to peek into bathrooms and suchlike to catch offenders, with the aid of government-installed cameras. For those of a certain orientation, the act of watching potential offenders could itself lead to the offence being committed.
But leave aside the satire. We can all express outrage at taxpayers’ money being spent like this, and go WTF at the thought of the government getting involved in such a private act—but consider for a moment the principle behind our going WTF: that the government has no business bothering about what we do with ourselves. Our own government might not attempt to teach us how to masturbate—but it interferes in our private lives in hazaar different ways that we accept and take for granted. It punishes various victimless crimes, and even treats attempted suicide as a crime, which is silly if you accept the right to self-ownership. It treats us as subjects, not as citizens—and in countless different ways, is no less outrageous than the regional government in Spain that teaches wanking.
So why is that WTF and not this?
Okay, so if the Indian government was actually to start a Ministry of Masturbation, who would be the first masturbation minister?
Why, Mahinder Watsa, of course!
(Link via email from Manish Vij.)
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