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The Media Seems to Think This Dad Coaching His Son on ‘Self-Pleasure’ Is Totally Normal

Slate, a progressive online magazine, published an essay last Friday in which a father described purchasing lube for his 12-year-old son and teaching him to masturbate.

SO WHAT

WHAT HE SAID

In the Slate essay, headlined “What Happened When I Decided to Teach My Son to Masturbate,” Brooklyn-based writer and educator Brian Gresko went into excruciating detail about how he overcame his own “repressive Catholic” upbringing and introduced his son to “self-pleasure” without shame.

“OUR FAMILY”: “More than a decade later, I’ve had the opportunity to live in a family where we think more freely about ourselves and our bodies when it comes to gender expression and to bodily pleasure. Our family vibe is cuddly, down-to-earth, and while we joke about the sometimes (OK, often) unpleasant sounds and smells our bodies emit, we also talk with frankness about sex, sexuality, pleasure, safety and consent,” wrote Gresko, who “identifies as white and gender nonconforming,” per his website.

“HAVE FUN”: “Recently, when I went away on a writing retreat for a week, my son put all this talk into action. He brought himself to ejaculation on the toilet. … Later, he called me to tell me about it, and I said the same [thing his mother had]. Go slow, I advised. And whatever feelings you’re having are OK. It’s called playing with yourself for a reason! Have fun.

“TOO ROUGHLY”: “A couple days later, he called again, this time to tell me that he’d masturbated a second time, too roughly. A drop of blood came out, along with the semen. This brought up all sorts of bodily anxiety for me, as I worried that he’d injured himself, and the thought of my own dick dripping blood turned my stomach,” Gresko recalled.

“TRY BOTH TYPES”: “When I arrived home from my trip, I went to the pharmacy and picked him up a tube of K-Y Jelly and scentless lotion. After school, I sat with him on his bed and explained that lube would help make masturbation more pleasant, and gentle. Try both types and see what feels best, I told him. Don’t be afraid to experiment. We looked at the graphic novel Let’s Talk About It, by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan, for illustrative tips on how to touch his penis.”

“IF I SEEMED EMOTIONAL”: “A few nights later, before bed, my son called me into his room. ‘Dad, if I seemed emotional earlier today, it’s because I was touching myself and I had an orgasm,'” Gresko concluded, proudly. “I’m hopeful … that one day I’ll experience such full-body joy without inhibition. … In the meantime, I’ll be there for my son as much as he wants me to, supporting him, loving him, being honest with him about whatever he wants to discuss. Trying, as much as I can, to be the adult voice of love and reason I wished I had in my life.”

HOW IS THIS MAINSTREAM?

While some journalists on Twitter criticized Gresko’s approach to sex ed as excessively hands on, many others praised his “Aspirational parenting,” in the words of Ian Allen, the deputy editor of The Rumpus Magazine.

  • For the most part, though, the essay didn’t even register in the media conversation — maybe because the woke ideology of gender and sexuality has been so normalized.
  • Gresko — who has written for various elites publications, like The Atlantic and the L.A. Review of Books — wrote that his son’s school “supports our talks at home.”
  • “While in some states, schools are being forced by anti-LGBTQ bills and prudish cultural attitudes to curb this kind of discussion, my son is fortunate to receive instruction at [a] middle school that supports our talks at home,” Grekso said. “In advisory, for instance, he was taught not just about vaginal intercourse but about oral and anal sex.”

Meanwhile, public polling has suggested that most Americans have relatively traditional views on how to teach kids about the birds and the bees.

  • A survey released last month by Public Opinion Strategies found that people support the language of Florida’s controversial “don’t say gay” law more than 2 to 1, 61 percent to 26 percent.
  • According to a more recent poll by YouGov and Yahoo News, nearly half of Americans support the law’s primary aim of banning schools from teaching sexuality and gender identity to kids between kindergarten and third grade, compared to just 27% who are opposed.

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