The Patriarchy Made Me Do It

A woman says that social forces outside her control led her to violate herself against her own will.

By Mona Slorooza

Ms. Slorooza is director of the Onania Trust.

Image: Betty Images Plus for The NY Times

Last night, I was violated. Like any woman, it was by an individual, but it was so much more than that.

It’s taking a lot for me to write this, as I must relive the whole thing; what happened was, I had sex with myself against my own will. I have not yet come to terms with this; I don’t fully understand it. It’s as if I was taken by some force beyond my control, and I could not stop.

I wanted to. I didn't want to. It felt so wrong, and yet so right. I was all alone. Nobody could stop me, even if I needed them to. I was deeply confounded. I felt awful, dirty, confused, manipulated, haunted — and relieved. And then I felt guilty, as if I had done something wrong. 

I could share more graphic details of the poem that I wrote to myself in my diary, but I will spare you. I was not completely naked, but that did not stop me. It’s as if there were no boundaries at all. Nothing would turn back the force that was making me do this...this thing. And after some thought, I recognized what it was.

It was the patriarchy.

I am not responsible for this deed. According to research, 56% of pornography viewers look at female masturbation. It has been turned into an industry. It is now mandatory. I'm merely a commodity. When I looked at myself in the bedroom mirror, I felt like a product. 

While I was doing it, I could not stop watching. I almost felt like I was stealing something, as if I should take out my credit card and pay myself, because I was turning into porno before my own eyes.

And then like all the dirty, dirty men looking at their computer monitors, I experienced an orgasm like I never have before, and I cried out looking into the eyes of someone who seemed like some savage other whom I have never met and did not recognize.

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The lights were on. I thought, you should really pull the curtains, as the whole apartment building across the way can look right into your window, and into your soul — but I could not. I didn’t care. I wanted to, but I could not bring myself to do it. I felt so cheap. I thought, let them all see how crude I am. 

Then I felt so guilty, and I knew that I had not done this. It had been done to me. I had no choice in the matter. That is how I felt; therefore it is the truth.

I spent the day looking on the internet, to find out what happened. No article adequately explained it. There was no hotline number I could call. I thought of calling my mother and asking her, but I felt so embarrassed, like I could never face myself again if I admitted this to anyone. I am so happy I did not call. 

Then in Google Books, I found in an old volume with the wise words of the good Dr. John Marten, who wrote in 1712, "As to the business of Onan, my opinion is the same with theirs, that think the lewdness of the fact was composed of Lust and Murder.”

Yes, that’s what it felt like — lust and murder. I felt like I was slaying myself; my ego lay in tatters amidst the bedclothes and my lingerie, which I had ripped from my own body in lecherous desire.

Dr. Marten also wrote, “Being perhaps of small Experience one may be wholly ignorant of the Sin I would warn them against; I think them happy in their innocence...what shall more and more incite them to Chastity, and deter them from all manner of Uncleanness?”

Yet in all of this, could I be the oppressor? Could I do this to myself unaided? I think not. Or, I dread so — yet, I felt so driven by some compulsion I still do not understand.

“In self-pollution, neither the cautious, nor the covetous, imagine that they have any thing to fear,” Dr. Marten said, his worlds like water to my parched soul. Yes, I should be afraid — very afraid of myself and of my feelings. Because if I don’t stop now, where will this frightful path lead me?

I do not know. But today, in response to this devastating experience, I called my attorney and founded a nonprofit organization called The Onania Trust. We are now a 501(c)(3) corporation devoted to stopping the awful sin of self-abuse.

Please make a generous contribution. I’m sorry if you were offended by this op-ed.


Mona Slorooza is the director of the Onania Trust. She attended Barnard College and was president of the women’s theater guild.

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