Since when has there been public masturbation in Cuba?
By Roberto Alfonso Lara, February 7, 2017
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Elena has a sort of magnet for that. Going home or on her way to work, her eyes seem condemned to stumble upon the same scene. On a park bench, behind the post, hidden in any bush or in some old construction site, she finds the man who masturbates; he looks at her and comes out of his den to tempt her.
She suffers the “fate” of a society where flashers assault public spaces, determined to solve, openly, what they do not achieve on a personal level or in intimacy with their partner. She has knocked on doors several times and presumes that nobody is listening. No one responds when she claims to feel somewhat raped, everyday, on the street.
Women are the main target of this sexual aggression if we consider the common intention of the act or the underlying cultural background: machismo. By showing their genitals and masturbating in public places, men in fact exercise their power against women. But, is this only a gender-related problem?
Despite their sex, there is no choice for those who bump into addicts bent on showing the size of their penises and getting excited in broad daylight. When the person displays toward the stalker an attitude of surprise, panic or simple rejection –almost always going out of their way– it is because the person feels that her or his rights have been invaded and therefore violated.
Although women are the most affected, the problem concerns all citizens and should be addressed from that perspective. This involves a security issue: who can feel safe and protected while sexual flashers are present in the spaces we share?
Movie theaters used to be their favorite site, today they do not waste time in distinctions. Elena finds them everywhere, and sees them approaching her, chasing her, with their dicks in their hands, fully aware of the panic they cause. She is frightened and has come to see me in despair. She doesn’t know what street to take to get home in the evening.
Few people report the crime to the police, it’s true. But… what happens if they do? Do Cuban laws strongly condemn these cases of sexual harassment?
Decree Law 141, on the contravention of public order, sets a fine of 40 pesos to those who “offend modesty or good customs with lewd exhibition”. There is no other provision about it, not even to define the limit or scope of the lewd act. And the small fine, well … it’s almost like paying a cheap license to masturbate out in the street.
Without rigorous measures against those who violate collective coexistence, and go to the extreme of sexually harassing women and disrespecting an elementary norm of civility, every effort to eliminate the problem will suffer the same “fate” as Elena’s when, after knocking on many doors, she feels no one cares about her fear.
Yes, masturbation is a legitimate way of experiencing sexuality, but doing it visibly in open places is detrimental to the human condition. Neither institutions nor society as a whole should remain indifferent to this type of violence.
It is said that the first complaint in Cuba against masturbators in public places was registered in 1881. It is painful to say this: how long will Elena have to wait?