Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lend me your hand in our salute to Onanism!

In a country where Mormonism is the dominant form of Christianity, it’s surprising that an obscure character from the Bible has become a household name. Perhaps you’ve heard the word onanii (オナニー)or many of its reiterations in reference to masturbation. Onanii purei for excessive solo guitar, or onanii yarou for guys who are jerk-offs. The term itself is derived from the phonetic pronunciation for Onanism, which in turn comes from Onan.

According to the Old Testament, Onan was required by the laws of levirate marriage to provide offspring for his deceased brother by impregnating his brother’s widow. But Onan exploited a loophole in the law. He found that by spilling his seed outside of the vagina, he could have his cake and frost it too. While the pullout method is on the first page of any man’s handbook of sex tricks, its initial discovery by Onan turned the game upside-down and was named Onanism in his honor.

The term now enjoys wide usage throughout Japan. Though technically incorrect, even female masturbation can be referred to as onanii, showing that the average person has no idea where the concept originated. Since many of us intimidate Onan on a daily basis, I feel it only prudent that we acknowledge the master of coitus interruptus.


  1. That top picture is brilliant.

  2. @Anonymous: Thanks! It was taken from an old National Lampoon magazine.