Every year since 2017 that November rolls around, the internet marks the first few days of the month by invariably trending #NoNutNovember. As gastronomic as that may sound to the uninitiated, NNN is actually a public oath of month-long celibacy taken man-to-man. The guidelines include even laying off masturbation or “nutting,” which is where this absurdity derives its name from. Either in all seriousness or simply hilarity, millions of men across the world partake in this trend. And as someone on the outside of this Satanic cult-like ritual, I can only wonder: why?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to impinge on a secret society of brotherhood here to preach or instruct. But as a free-thinking individual of the free world, as also a strong advocate of body positivity, I find it well within my rights to try and understand the motivations that drive NNN. Not to mention, the implications this seemingly harmless internet challenge has in the bigger conversation of self-pleasure. Is it only good fun? Do people take it seriously? Is it serving a purpose? Is it serving detriment?

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Believe It Or Not, No Nut November Has A Legit Rulebook

First off, NNN is purely a ‘Brothers-in-Arms’ club; anyone can participate, but majority participants are male. And thank heavens for that, for which woman would like to subject herself to this self-imposed exile from her own body for the sake of a virtual challenge? But it seems that to the men who vow allegiance to it, NNN is as real as Fight Club was to Tyler Durden. Because believe it or not, this covert handshake of masculinity comes with an official rulebook whose rules range from bizarre to the very bizarre:

“Any form of orgasm will result in disqualification; Only involuntary wet dreams are an exception; You may watch pornography, masturbate or even have sex, but nutting by climaxing will disqualify you.”

Yeah. The show of hyper-masculinity aside, the rules for NNN are pretty straightforward. This worldwide month-long “movement” of sorts was originally inspired by the NoFap community on Reddit, which had similar guidelines, and as of November 2020, has grown to over 74,000 subscribers. Some might say NNN is just a way of keeping yourself entertained by an activity (or non-activity) outside of routine. But is there something more sinister behind it?

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How NNN Leads To Sexism And Death Threats

First, in a COVID-ridden world, one can only be thankful that at least the celibacy part will help in curbing the spread among people who enjoy casual hook-ups with strangers. Second, in perhaps what is more long-term, NNN as a hub of testosterone does foster misogyny. Girl On The Net, a sex blogger and sex-positivity influencer, says, “The NoFap community has become linked to wider sexism and misogyny, reducing women to sexual objects to be attained or abstained from and shaming sexually active women.”

This is not all. In 2018, in what was later claimed to be only harmless fun, some extremist NNN participants went so far as to harass and threaten porn sites, with “calls to kill all pornographers.” Anti-Semitic, anti-women, and far-right fascist content was also in circulation, Vice reported. When an internet challenge transgresses into offence with a threat of causing real-time harm, to socially targeted communities like women or Jews, doesn’t it cease to be a game?

NNN, to some, is a true test of manhood, where a man’s abstinence speaks of his will power, self-control, and dominance over flesh. In this scenario, it’s not uncommon to see that many men who don’t choose to participate in this trend are labelled “weak” or “not man enough.” Do these ideas not intensely proffer toxic masculinity? Does it not stand to put non-binary or queer people at a greater disadvantage than they already are?

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Negative Outlook Towards Sex And Women

Also, it won’t be radical to say that challenges like NNN are not benefitting the larger movement of sex positivity or comfort with self-pleasure. By deeming masturbation or sex as habits to “abstain from,” will the taboo or myth around it not strengthen? What of the impact it will have on young teens who are only just becoming active online? How is their outlook towards sex being shaped? Won’t they have conflicted relationships with their bodies?

Dr Rajan Bhosle, Professor and Head of the Department of Sexual Medicine at KEM Hospital, says, “Contrary to common beliefs, it (masturbation) is not a hazardous, corrupt or sinful activity either for men or for women. It is natural and normal. However, the feeling of guilt, shame, worry, and conflict associated with masturbation can be detrimental to one’s emotional health and self-esteem.”

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Another worrying trend in NNN is that after celibacy for a month, in an almost meditative state, men then feel entitled to make up for it the rest of the year by vigorously, sometimes even aggressively, looking for sex. At the end of NNN, they see women’s bodies as rewards they have earned and fully deserve to “conquer.” Is that not creating gender imbalanced power structures? Does it not encourage men to dominate over women’s bodies? Where does that leave us women in the fight for equality?

These are not overreactions. Everything mentioned has already begun manifesting online, if only through memes and Reddit threads at the moment. It won’t take long to see a spillage of it all into real-time as well. So if you’re an NNN participant, you may want to rethink your decision. And if you’re not, well, I’m glad you’re not nuts.

Views expressed are the author’s own. 

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