The Last Taboo

Masturbation and Brett Kavanaugh.

Posted Sep 29, 2018

Writings on the Catholic priest sex scandals have discussed research, much of it by psychotherapist and former priest Richard Sipe, showing approximately what percentage of priests in the U.S. are sexually active (50%), what percentage are heterosexually active (30%), what percentage are homosexually active (15%), and what percentage molest children (6%). There is little or no discussion of masturbation among priests, but anecdotal and survey evidence suggests it is close to the same extremely high level as for adult males generally.

The reason is obvious to any adult male: After a week or two, lack of sexual relief becomes distracting and uncomfortable. (Females seem not to have such a hydrology-driven need). The idea that priests (except maybe older ones) can resist their sexual urges for an extended period is unrealistic, to say the least. (Origen, one of the early church fathers, castrated himself to address the problem.)

If one considers men who masturbate as sexually active, then virtually all priests are sexually active, whether the activity involves another person or not. (This has implications for the priest marriage issue, as it suggests that the problem of child abuse by priests does not stem from lack of sexual outlets, but from deep-seated personality problems.) Discussions of sex involving priests tends to be limited to coitus, in part because of the embarrassment that most people have even talking about masturbation, and also because any acknowledgment of priestly masturbation would expose the hypocrisy of the church’s teaching that it is a sinful practice.

The recent attention given to the alleged adolescent and young adult sexual misbehavior of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh shows a similar avoidance of the M-word. Although Kavanaugh is not a priest, there is a certain parallel in that he claimed to be a devout Catholic, and his purported sexual acting-out occurred in the context of a Catholic boys school (and at parties involving attendees from sister girls schools).

In a controversial interview on Fox News (controversial because public campaigning for the job had rarely been done before), Kavanaugh stated that he was a virgin during high school and college, and for several years after college. By that I assume he was saying that he had never had coitus. He did not specifically say that he refrained from masturbation, but if he did he would certainly be lying. The likelihood that most Yalies masturbate is reflected in the pervasive rumor (which cannot be confirmed as its members are sworn to secrecy) that an initiation ritual (before it went co-ed in the 1990’s) for Yale’s Skull and Bones Society (of which both Bush presidents were members) involved masturbating into a coffin.   

The purpose of Kavanaugh’s revealing of his virginity was presumably to argue that such a sexually inexperienced (and religiously observant) person could not have done the sexually aggressive acts that he had been accused of. Such an assertion is absurd, of course, in that he was not being accused of regular coital behavior but of occasional (or even one-time) sexually aggressive and gross misbehavior fueled by alcohol (which Kavanaugh admits he abused), horniness (a common state of adolescent males) and the encouragement of complicit friends (one of whom, Mark Judge, admits to having engaged in problem behaviors).

Furthermore, there is much evidence that Kavanaugh, while having many positive qualities, was hardly the choirboy he claimed to be (he falsely stated that calendar entries Devils Triangle and Boofing referred, respectively, to a drinking game and farting, while in fact they referred to a  2-guy sexual threesome and anal ingestion of beer). More to the point, if Kavanaugh honestly believes that a virginal young man cannot commit a sexual assault (even once) when horny, drunk and in the company of an encouraging friend, then he is too naïve to serve on the Supreme Court.

Copyright S. Greenspan

istock/ Getty Images
Lady Justice
Source: istock/ Getty Images
istock/ getty images
Source: istock/ getty images