Masturbation: it’s NORMAL 

One of the reasons Corn Flakes were invented was because Dr. John Harvey Kellogg wanted young people to stop masturbating. He designed a bland food item to dampen the sex drives of young people. He thought that the blandness of the cereal would eradicate penile and clitoral erections nationwide. 

This is one of the many things people will learn in Eric Sprankle’s book, ‘DIY: The Wonderfully Weird History and Science of Masturbation,’ which came out March 19, 2024. He said he wasn’t planning on writing this book, but after some comments on an Instagram post, it changed his mind and made him want to understand where the comments came from and why so many people are gullible to believe the misinformation.  

“A couple of years ago, I posted something on Instagram about masturbation. I just essentially said something along the lines of ‘have a worry-free orgasm today,’ basically just normalizing it, and there’s nothing unhealthy about masturbating,” said Sprankle. “I got a few comments from people. ‘You’re being unprofessional’. ‘This is unethical.’ ‘You need to warn your followers about all the dangers of masturbating.’ And I’m like, where is this coming from? So that sparked my interest.” 

Sprankle’s book is both educational and adds some humor to the topic. He added comedy as his way of communicating. 

“It’s hard for me not to be flippant about things and so I wanted to be very intentional with this topic to be humorous, throughout and I think that it makes it stand out amongst sexual health books in my field,” said Sprankle. “Interviewing the topics can be interesting, sometimes it can be dry reading. I wanted to offer readers within sexual health within sex ed a little bit of a different voice and the voice that they’re used to for me on social media, so it matches my tone of voice with that.” 

The topic of masturbation is a bit of a taboo topic, but it didn’t scare Sprankle from writing about it. He said it’s taboo because many cultures have different views on sex and sexuality. We (the U.S.) have a hierarchy of sexual appropriateness, and what is most socially acceptable is penile-vaginal intercourse within the confines of heterosexual marriage. People find it difficult to object to this on a societal level, especially when it comes to procreation. 

“You start moving down the list this hierarchy of what is acceptable; people who aren’t married, people who are the same gender having sex. Masturbation is down there, as well as things that aren’t socially acceptable because it doesn’t fit into this one area that is socially acceptable: partnered sex, married for the purpose of procreation,” said Sprankle. “Sex by yourself. No procreation. Not part of a loving bond between two people. So it can be viewed as like selfish, unnecessary distraction, an unhealthy coping mechanism, a sign of deviance, all these different things because it doesn’t like just fit into what society wants you to do with your own body.” 

There is a chapter in the book which covers religion. Sprankle said religion plays a big role in societal attitudes about sexuality and masturbation. While the book does cover religion in most chapters, he said there was enough information out there where he could write a whole chapter on it. He said something he learned about the religions surprised him and it was the way they look at masturbation condemnation. They all say God created genitals for one reason: express marital love in the hopes of procreation. 

“Every imaginable sexual behavior with the exception of one and masturbation falls into that. Masturbation isn’t uniquely condemned as a sexual sin. It’s just one of dozens of sexual sins because it doesn’t fulfill God’s purpose for our bodies and particularly or genitals and sexuality,” said Sprankle. “Sometimes there’s a greater focus on masturbation within these religions, because it’s considered the most easily accessible and the highest frequently engaged in sexual sin that you can engage in. It’s a sin literally at your fingertips. You don’t need a partner, you can do it yourself.” 
People can buy this book where books are sold, including Barnes and Noble, Amazon and if people want signed copies, they can stop by Next Chapter Booksellers in St. Paul, Smitten Kitten in Minneapolis or head over to

Header photo: Pictured above is Eric Sprankle holding his book called ‘DIY: The Wonderfully Weird History and Science of Masturbation. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to Lauren Viska at

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