From the astronomical portions we serve ourselves on Thanksgiving to those Black Friday sales we just can’t resist, we know November to be a month full of overindulgence. But while our cup (or plate) runneth over with greed, our generation knows November to be perhaps the most pleasureless month of all: No Nut November (NNN) — the internet challenge that asks men to not ejaculate for 30 days.
This challenge, as absurd as it is, has flooded our feeds for years, but it's left us with some burning questions. How and why did this challenge start? And more importantly, how many people actually take part in it?
Well, one look at No Nut November’s subreddit and you’ll see that thousands of people are active participants. You’ll also notice that things are pretty light hearted on these sites, at least as lighthearted as they can be.
It’s a meme fest on these threads and chat rooms where users make jokes about the increasing difficulty of not breaking their no orgasm streak. Gremlins, ice cream and girls sitting next to you on the bus are all triggers to stay away from, according to these memes.
Scrolling through is secondhand painful, but funny all the while. Although NNN is pretty funny whether you are a participant or a bystander, a deep dive into the challenge exposes a not-so-fun, dark and eerie backstory.
NNN, or any other semen retention challenge (there are a lot), are all offshoots of the NoFap movement which began in 2011. The NoFap movement requires its half a million members to abstain from masturbation with its bogus claim that this increases testosterone levels.
The problem: A challenge that requires one to stay away from porn, sex and masturbating is most definitely going to attract misogynists and the far-Right.
In fact, in order for a Proud Boy (the term for a member of the far-Right, neo-Fascist organization) to be sworn in on the second level, he must swear off masturbation, known online as NoFap or #NoWanks. Sound familiar?
While we know the NNN guy posting about Patrick Star looking exceptionally sexy in his fishnets and thigh highs probably isn't a misogynist or a racist, we can’t ignore the long and unsettling history of anti-masturbation groups and challenges.
Last year, Vice explained how not orgasming has for centuries been viewed as a “pursuit of some higher goal.” It continued by explaining that philosophers, like Immanuel Kant, regarded masturbation as an “illness or symptom of one.”
From philosophers to religious leaders, porn and masturbation have always been demonized and looked at as a distraction. Anti-porn and anti-masturbation align not only to nonthreatening religions, but also to radical groups, and yes, even Twitter challenges.
While we all join movements or organizations for different reasons, not all movements attract the bottom of the barrel. That’s where the NoFap and NNN movements get in trouble.
David Duke suggested that “pornography was a Jewish conspiracy, intended to serve as a 'weapon of revenge' against European (white) men and societies.” It was a “metaphor for Jewish behavior,” Duke said, according to Vice.
Do we even have to go any further to take the fun out of NNN?
While this history definitely puts a downer on this comical and insane challenge, I don’t think either group is too crazy — at least not alt-Right crazy. NNN seems to me like an example of internet culture and our obsession with camaraderie, and on the mainstream level, it is quite far removed from any members who may have radical agendas.
I think we have all joined a club or a sports team where we don’t get along with everyone. These challenges are pretty similar in that regard. Not everyone is a clout-chasing Twitter account and not everyone is a radical anti-porn, anti-masturbation guy, but they all exist in this very weird, kind of creepy and meme-flooded challenge.