Story: Sexualities

Advice on masturbation, 1888

Masturbation was 'an avoided but important subject' when the Reverend J. Berry decided to publish his private lecture on the subject in 1888. The lecture was delivered to over 1,000 teenagers and young men at the Wesley Church in Wellington. Masturbation was seen as even more sinful than 'carnal contact with a fallen woman', and much more devastating in its effects. According to Berry, it was the source of sleepless nights, 'filthy dreams and uncontrollable emissions' as well as memory loss, possible insanity, self-disgust and shame. Berry asserted that men who masturbated were 'fallen men' who made themselves unfit for marriage, but, like fallen women, they could repent and be saved.

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Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: Joseph Berry, Private lecture to young men upon an avoided but important subject. Wellington: Edwards & Co, 1888 (B-K 936)

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Louisa Allen, 'Sexualities - Sexuality education', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/interactive/30865/advice-on-masturbation-1888 (accessed 21 July 2019)

Story by Louisa Allen, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 17 Jul 2018