As such, Mels van Driel’s With the Hand: A history of masturbation is a rare and welcome exploration of the topic. With a distinct lack of similar historical texts available, Van Driel attempts to cover all the bases, guiding the reader through a swift - if sometimes superficial - tour of the scientific, medical and religious aspects of the practice, along with a more cultural take through the study of art, literature and philosophy.
Many gays still experience America as intolerant, even menacing. But if the experience of New York’s Republican dissenters teaches us anything, it is how quickly the political tide is turning, how quickly the “untraditional” is becoming normal. Is it moving quickly enough that the Supreme Court, where the issue may be headed via a California test case, will decide the country is ready to accept gay marriage as a constitutional right? Quickly enough that the issue could be an asset, or at least not a liability, if Cuomo runs for president in 2016? Neither would surprise me. At the very least, voting for gay marriage, even if you are a Republican politician from the heartland, is not the risk it would have been just a couple of years ago. The four defectors aren’t guaranteed re-election. But if they lose, it is likely to be in spite of their marriage vote, not because of it.
“The earth didn’t stop spinning,” Alesi said. “The moon didn’t fall into the pond. The people who live across the street are still the same people, except that they’re married.”
Alesi is not the type to echo McDonald’s chorus of “Take the job and shove it,” but he clings to something that lawmakers rarely get from working in Albany, a sense of having done something worthwhile and a little brave.
“At the end of the day, wherever I end up, we’ll have marriage equality in New York State,” he told me. “There isn’t anything you can point to in a political career, if you’re just looking over the years you served, that you can say was as big as this.”