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Saturday, February 24, 2024

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Arts + CultureLitThe way we wank: Trans and disability-friendly masturbation guide...

The way we wank: Trans and disability-friendly masturbation guide goes for round two

You can help fund Vic Liu’s ‘Bang!’

It’s not often you get to say that one of your favorite parts of a book is its stains. But the kinda gnarly light-yellow patches that writer and designer Vic Liu engineered onto the pages of Bang! Masturbation for People of All Genders and Abilities are downright inspirational.

Dare I say, they are indicative of why you simply must—if you feel so compelled!—contribute to Microcosm Publishing’s Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of the updated and expanded version of Bang! Like those crazy little discolorations, the book is one of the most frank takes on touching yourself out there. Most importantly, it takes into consideration just how diverse we are as horny people.

“Feel free to cross out any terms and write in your own!” states Liu’s pre-table of contents “how to use this book” section, urging us from the get-go to take matters into our own hands. Get messy, the fake stains tell us, we welcome your goo.

As Bang!’s subtitle may indicate, the book is designed to be useful for a host of people, trans individuals included, who masturbate. It features gender-neutral descriptions of utilizing one’s linguinal canals and mons, a silly putty-inspired graphic that somehow explains sex toy functioning without any dysmorphia-inducing anatomical illustration. There is also information on how metoidioplasty and phalloplasty might affect one’s pursuit of self-pleasure, aided by expert advice in a chapter by contributors Rebecca Bedell and Lafayette Matthews.

Of course, gender identity is far from the only variable that impacts that way we wank. Bang! contributors Andrew Gurza and Angus Andrews pen a crucial chapter on setting up for successful masturbation when you have a physical disability. This includes ways to communicate to one’s care provider that you need some time to touch yourself, and even how to better position one’s wheelchair to maximize access to erogenous zones.

It’s worth considering how much we can learn about our own systems of touch by learning about those of others. Bang! is spectacular at creating this sense of “we’re all in this together” kind of sex ed, and furthers elevates this sense of communal cumming by exploring childhood masturbation (normal! Healthy!) as well as masturbation through the ages.

After all, how could a sexual practice be sinful if it was literally the way the world was created? Such was masturbation’s role in the ancient Egyptian Heliopolis creation myth from back in 2780-2250 BCE, which held that Atum created all his fellow gods through jacking off.

Kind of makes you wonder why (and as is outlined in Bang!‘s pages) when we fast-forward to 1994, the second woman US Surgeon General, Joycelyn Elders, was fired by Bill Clinton for merely suggesting masturbation should be addressed in school.

In 2001, Mattel yanked the Harry Potter Nimbus 2000 off toy store shelves when it came to light that the vibrating flying broom was helping kids to cast some sensual spells of their own.

Liu thinks that such hysteria could be cured by a healthy dose of sex ed—particularly, lessons that emphasize the universal nature of masturbation.

“I think what’s really wonderful about uniting all these bodies and genders in one book is that you realize how much overlap there is,” says Liu. “As a person who has depression and anxiety, I see a lot of myself in, for example, the section about masturbating with a physical disability.”

Vic Liu

The creator of Bang! was kind enough to chat with me via Zoom about their quest to re-up on this required reading, and was very sweet when I told them my favorite design element in a very dynamically designed project was aforementioned baby stains.

“It says, ‘Make a mess,’ and the book has the premise of that you can cross out anything that you hate,” they say. “Burn the book if you want—wait no, that might be bad.”

The idea for Bang! was born when Liu took a trip to a place that often doesn’t inspire much pride in the unique workings of our erotic life: their college health clinic.

“There was this wall of pamphlet holders and it was like, ‘How to disclose that you have gonorrhea,’ or like, ‘How to tell people that you’re gay.’ What about having sex, what about having a body?” they remember thinking.

Liu reached out to the clinic administrators, and soon enough the officials were funding a series of zines. The writer and designer was attempting to re-center the conversation of sexuality on the affirmative, on the enjoyment of our own bodies despite the stigma of said act that is dumped on us beginning at an early age.

“Masturbation is a great lens to start having this conversation with people,” Liu says. “I printed a bunch of copies, put them in my backpack, and ran around and distributed.” Eventually, they formed relationships with radical sex shops throughout the northeastern part of the United States that wound up becoming the home of Bang!

In 2021 (a great moment to learn about solo sex if ere there was one), the first edition came out. Now, we’re in the final days of a chance to fund a new Bang! book edition. This round will include a whopping 64 pages of new content including a forward by doula, scholar, and author adrienne maree brown; a section on ethical sex toys by Dirty Lola, words on sexuality and aging by Scarleteen founder Heather Corrina, and information on making your own porn.

But this brave new world will only come to fruition if we stand up and support the vision! Bang!’s Kickstarter campaign is active through Wednesday, so donate, tell a freaky friend, tell a friend who needs more freaky in their life. Make the magic happen.

Fund the Bang! Kickstarter campaign here.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Caitlin Donohue
Caitlin Donohuehttp://www.donohue.work
Caitlin Donohue grew up in the Sunset and attended Jefferson Elementary School. She writes about weed, sex, perreo, and other methods of dismantling power structures. Her current center of operations is Mexico City.

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