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1710: Masturbation Condemned in Onania

Onania, an anti-masturbation tract, was published in London by a man who claimed to be a Doctor, and reprints quickly spread its message to the American Colonies. The anonymous author warned that onanism, as masturbation was then called, threatened men's moral and physical health. Ostensibly intended to prevent the imagined ills resulting from "self-pollution," the booklet also served to advertise quack medicines its author endorsed.

Citing Biblical injunctions against sexual sin, Onania is written in a high moral tone and even equates masturbation with sodomy, the most heinous sexual sin its author could imagine. Later medical writers like Tissot in France and Acton in England would forego Onania's religious tone, but repeated its hysterical warnings that masturbation can have deadly consequences. --(c) 1998, Andrew Wikholm http://www.gayhistory.com/rev2/factfiles/ff1710.htm [Sept 2004]

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