They Come in Peace

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F or Mr. O. — an anonymous founder of several websites that sell masturbation accessories — the fight against the planned war in Iraq starts at home. Alone. Since O. created www.masturbateforpeace.com last September, more than 12,000 individuals from eighty-six countries and all fifty states have electronically pledged to masturbate in their “own time and own way, for the cause of peace.” In the site’s “How I Plan to Masturbate for Peace” section, responses range from the poetic (“I will stand naked on a cliff face and masturbate out into the ocean and sky, drawing us all a little closer to peace as I climax in joy”) to the bizarre (“With a butternut squash. My violation of the fruit will signify the violation of the world by war”). Even some pro-war crank yankers are getting in on the action: “I will masturbate by visualizing the systematic, efficient destruction of the Iraqi regime carried out by a U.N. coalition of forces, spearheaded by the technological superiority of the US military,” wrote one contributor from Washington, D.C. On second thought, maybe a policy of containment isn’t a bad idea. — Eli Kintisch

Nerve: Before the war came up, what were you masturbating for?
Mr. O: Like everybody else, I didn’t have much of a purpose for it. But that’s one thing many people say: “I was doing it anyway; now I have a purpose for it, and I feel good about it.” A lot of people feel that masturbation is a selfish thing, so we’re happy to give them a positive reason to do it.

How did this come about?
Bush started his war talk in September, and I sat here thinking, “What can I do?” I’m not a senator; nobody listens to me about anything. But I do run masturbation sites, so this is what we came up with. I think people are so frustrated.

In several ways.
What’s a better outlet for frustration than masturbation?

Any discussion of getting a spokesmodel to lead the effort?
We don’t have a good spokesperson. We wish we had someone who could be the public face of masturbating for peace. People have been supportive, but still there’s a stigma about masturbation.

Do you attract mainly liberals and pacifists? What about isolationists?
We haven’t gotten that specific.

Are women signing the petition as often as men?
Oh yeah. Actually, some women were complaining that our slogans [“Touch your sack, not Iraq”] were too man-focused.

Did they suggest alternatives?
Sure, like “War is shit, rub your clit” and “Get peace fever, rub your beaver.” There are more ways to refer to male masturbation, so I think it lends itself to bumper stickers more. But we try to be fair. One of our bumper stickers is, “My Bush doesn’t declare war.”

How do you gauge European support, what with France and Germany leading UN opposition to armed conflict?
Well, actually France and Germany are not prominent on our site. We get a lot more visitors from Spain. Initially, we got a lot more from Scandinavia. The Scandinavians are masturbating for peace. The French and Germans are, I guess, having sex. I support having sex for peace. But masturbating is more important.

Why is that?
I’m just joking. Whatever people can do for peace, I’m all for it. We think a lot of people aren’t having sex, but everybody’s masturbating. The largest demographic in the world, you see, is masturbating people. So we’re trying to reach the largest demographic.

No talk of an international Masturbate for Peace Day where everybody masturbates at once?
A great idea, but there are a few issues. First of all, obviously you can’t run around in public masturbating. That’s the No. 1 problem. But May is Masturbation Month — the Good Vibrations people created it. We might do something with them.

Any emails from the Middle East?
We tend to get some jokes, people saying, “I’m Saddam Hussein.” We get a lot of emails from Arab countries that are behind firewalls. They write, “We can’t visit your site, please send it to us.”

And what about the right wing?
Some people will say, “I’m going to dream about having sex with President Bush and masturbate on him.” We get that a lot.  

©2003 Eli Kintisch and Nerve.com