Masturbation’s Okay If You Don’t Get Into It

In my usual drunken wanderings through links my friends post, I was alerted to this article on thefrisky.com about a guy considering buying a Fleshlight. (Second link visibly NSFW.) Now, I’ll be clear, I don’t actually know the article’s author, John DeVore; I’m not familiar with his work or his personal life or what dreams sing within his heart. Based just on that one article, though, I think he’s an embarrassment.

It is downright ridiculous that in this day and age, there is still so much tired-ass nonsense about jerkin’ one’s gherkin. Feminists have done a hell of a job reframing women’s sex toys as a fun, even empowering way to enjoy one’s own body and sexuality. Male sex toys, however, are still culturally stigmatized as the province of creepy losers, as seen in the linked article. If you see any reference in most culture to a man having any form of masturbation aid, from an apple pie to a RealDoll (also NSFW), then you know that guy’s a punchline. It’s universally understood to be shorthand for “loser”.

And so far I’m just talking about toys one inserts one’s willy into. If you happen to enjoy any form of anal stimulation, well, you’re just gay. (Gratuitous link to my favorite anal-stimulation-turns-dudes-gay theory.) Gentlemen, your prostate is purely decorative.

All this despite the fact that it’s also universally acknowledged that men enjoy masturbating. Shit, what’s not to enjoy? (Yes, there remain some pockets of the culture where it’s heavily stigmatized, but I don’t know anything about that experience, so I’ll leave it to others.) As with all forms of male gender-policing, though, there’s this impossibly narrow target you have to hit: you’re weird if you don’t jerk off, but if you get too into it, if you start really enjoying yourself and having a good time… that’s even weirder. I applaud JackinWorld for fighting this asinine stigma, and am not too proud to admit I picked up a couple good tricks from their site.

Whence cometh this bizarre notion? In trying to unpack the symbolism of how the stigma lives in my own brain, I notice two different strains of bullshit. The first, of course, is that masturbation must always be a substitute for sex. A Real Man can get all the women he wants, of course, but those of us who fall short of imaginary standard, the remaining 100% of the male population, must sometimes pummel the bishop until the next liaison comes along. This notion is absurd, of course. As someone once said, “A wank is a poor substitute when what you really want is a fuck, but when all you want is a wank, it’s perfect.” (Anyone who can track down that quote or its author will have my gratitude.) Masturbation and sex both provide sexual enjoyment, but they’re not the same, and they have their own levels of fun.

The second kind of nonsense, I think, is the same old routine about vulnerability. If a guy is really, really into masturbating, having a great time and getting really into it, he’s vulnerable. He looks silly. He’s as ripe for mockery as that poor guy who didn’t understand that “dance like no one’s watching” is a trap. And mockery is one of the primary enforcement mechanisms for gender-policing.

So yeah, that poor guy over at thefrisky.com. He’d probably enjoy that Fleshlight, but he’s absorbed the message that’s been beaten into him his whole life. And now he’s amplifying that message, broadcasting it out to anyone who might not have gotten it. “I almost enjoyed myself, but man… that’d just be too embarrassing, am I right, guys?”

About noahbrand

Noah Brand is a mysterious figure with a very nice hat.
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31 Responses to Masturbation’s Okay If You Don’t Get Into It

  1. Miriam says:

    Wow, I never even thought about this before, but it’s so true…most guys I know will admit to jerking off occasionally, but I feel like they’d never admit to actually enjoying it as anything other than a substitute for sex when sex cannot be obtained. I’ve also noticed that no matter how comfortable with each other my partner and I are, he is always extremely reluctant to masturbate in front of me, even if I’ve done it in front of him!

  2. Clarence says:

    Mad Propz for putting this up.

    Yes, despite being an evil PUA/MRA etc I sometimes jerk the gherk. It’s easy.

  3. typhonblue says:

    Men masturbating is hot!!!!!

    Also, yeah, I concur.

    Noahbrand you should do an article on how many men in the media are portrayed as pulling effortlessly–even so called ‘losers’ on TV are still generally getting laid–which creates a sense of ‘I’m the only one not getting laid’ inadequacy in some men.

  4. meghan says:

    A man/men masturbating is totally hot. But then doubly so when they are comfortable showing their vulnerability. It’s all brave and sexy and intimate and stuff.

  5. ozymandias42 says:

    Men who feel like they shouldn’t be allowed to have sex toys always make me sad. I’m the happy little hippie of sexual pleasure, okay. Orgasms for everyone!

    Also, TENTPEGS YES. I haven’t thought of that in years… amazing.

  6. Danny says:

    I’ve pondered this rock/hard place situation before as well.

    But seriously though. I have a fleshlight and while it does feel nice it takes way too much lube and is a beast to clean up afterwards.

    And TB your declaration of, “Men masturbating is hot!!!!!” makes me smile.

  7. typhonblue says:

    @ Danny

    “And TB your declaration of, “Men masturbating is hot!!!!!” makes me smile.”

    There needs to be more porn of men playing with toys. Even if there already is some, there needs to be more of it. That’s because the emphasis is on the man’s pleasure which is something you tend not to get at all in straight porn. (As I said a while back on FC, I believe, men in straight porn might as well be doing their taxes for all the pleasure they look like they’re getting out of it. FUCK YEEAAAH, I qualify for that exemption. )

  8. jnakabb says:

    @noah : Thanks for the referral to JW – I’ll have to undertake some scientific research and experimentation next time I find myself with time on my hands (as it were)

    @Danny : I hate clean-ups as well (although I’m not in possession of this particular toy). Condoms may add an air of authenticity, but reduce the “mood” and sensation somewhat 😦

    @Miriam, @TB, @Ozy : Hey – we each like the image of our partners of choice having fun ! With toys even ! Maybe men and women aren’t so different after all (tongue in cheek).

  9. “If you see any reference in most culture to a man having any form of masturbation aid, from an apple pie to a RealDoll (also NSFW), then you know that guy’s a punchline. It’s universally understood to be shorthand for “loser”.”

    See Rebecca Watson’s epilogue video after she got blowback for publicly shaming Elevator Guy for some excellent examples of this kind of male-sexuality shaming.

  10. Schala says:

    “I’ve also noticed that no matter how comfortable with each other my partner and I are, he is always extremely reluctant to masturbate in front of me, even if I’ve done it in front of him!”

    My boyfriend is reluctant, VERY reluctant, to masturbate in front of me (unless I masturbate him myself), because he was told before by one of his girlfriends that it was unacceptable to masturbate at all while they were together. I have no such hangup, but it doesn’t matter.

  11. mythago says:

    @typhonblue: this may never happen again, but we wholeheartedly agree. 😉

    (And you’d think that people who insist ‘oh, women just aren’t into porn’ would notice that, duh, there isn’t much for straight women to like about mainstream porn. It’s all cameras pointed at a naked female and the guys aren’t having much fun. Who wants to see that?)

  12. noahbrand says:

    Here, have some trailers for videos of guys masturbating, shot specifically by and for women.

    http://forthegirls.com/guys.html

    Don’t say I never did nothing for you. 🙂

  13. Titfortat says:

    I may have said this joke once or twice before but this post is perfect for it.

    The definition of rejection: You go to masturbate and your hand falls asleep. 🙂

  14. kilo says:

    Interesting. I saw a German talk show some time ago that had a feminist porn producer on, and she said that the scenes that consistently received the most (and the most positive) feedback from women were the male masturbation ones. On the one hand I find this difficult to understand – why would a woman want to see that? – on the other I get it, as female masturbation is among the video porn that I can enjoy.

    On the OP, another argument for the first strain of bullshit is that, at least in my experience, men who get a lot of sex, or at least got a lot of sex rather early in their youth, tend to talk much more freely about their masturbation habits, whereas late virgins and/or incels like me tend to be much more restrained. The causality, if any, could run both ways.

  15. Danny says:

    @Titfortat
    Ouch. That’s gotta hurt the ego. Although some people call the act of getting your hand to fall asleep (like by sitting on it or putting it at an odd angle to cut blood flow) and then using it masturbate “The Stranger”. I don’t know.

    Schala:My boyfriend is reluctant, VERY reluctant, to masturbate in front of me (unless I masturbate him myself), because he was told before by one of his girlfriends that it was unacceptable to masturbate at all while they were together. I have no such hangup, but it doesn’t matter.
    That’s pretty messed up and presumptuous. Its like that past girlfriend simply could not fathom the idea of him wanting to have sex when she didn’t. I wonder if that feeds into the whole thing about men wanting women only for sex (or at least I would think so if you consider a guy being told that he shouldn’t be masturbating while in a relationship until he gets to the point of believing something like, “hey why should I masturbate when I have a girlfriend?”)

  16. ozymandias42 says:

    Danny: That’s especially weird given that for many people the desire to masturbate and the desire to have sex are completely different. Personally, I masturbate if I want a no-fuss orgasm; I have sex if I want the warmth, physical contact and connection with another human being, plus orgasms. When my partner’s hand can give him snuggles afterward, then I’ll be threatened.

  17. TomeWyrm says:

    I wish I had more fun with masturbation. It mostly gets used by me to avoid the complications of NOT masturbating. It’s become a chore, enjoyable, but still something I have to do at least occasionally or suffer the consequences.

  18. John Markley says:

    Good post. I’d suggest a third possible source of stigma, in addition to the ones you’ve already identified. The common presumption about male sexuality, as has been discussed here, is that men are supposed to always be ready and willing to go at a moment’s notice. From that perspective, a man who uses some sort of sexual aid or device must have something wrong with him, since if he were properly virile he’d presumably have no use for such a thing.

  19. Johnny_B says:

    Thank you for saying something about this. I’m pretty tired of the common view where a woman who masturbates/owns sex toys is healthy and exploring her sexuality, but a man who does the same is a “loser who can’t get laid” – doubly so if it’s a Fleshlight or similar implement, and if it’s any kind of anal stimulation device, you can forget about it, you’ll just get called that word that used to mean a cigarette or a bundle of sticks. I’ve heard some macho manly-men say things like “I don’t need to do it, I can get laid whenever I want!” but that ignores the fact that masturbation and sex with another person can serve different purposes, like Ozymandias said. Anyway, good post.

  20. GeorgeOlduvai says:

    If you read almost any of John DeVore’s other articles you’ll find that the guy hasn’t been laid in some time (possibly years0 and is the most beta (possibly even gamma or delta) male around. His “article” on the Fleshlight is so poorly written that it should be obvious he was told to go out and write an piece on sex toys for men. Just happened to come across (pardon the pun) an ad for the Fleshlight first. Right…

  21. Sweet & Sexy Reviews says:

    Interesting topic and read. Very rarely do you hear about a man actually buying a sex toy such as a fleshlight. It’s almost a shame considering how many toys are available to women, but I guess at the same time it makes sense. A lot of men are afraid of being emasculated and the fleshlight basically spells out to them “You’re a loser, you can’t get laid.” Most woman could easily get laid and the same goes for men – yet why do women use sex toys often, but men barely use them at all?

  22. f. says:

    Noah, thanks for the link to that site, heh.

    This really reminds me that I need to get over my shyness about asking my boyfriend to masturbate in front of me. I am pretty sure he feels some shame about the subject, so it’s kind of tough for me to talk to him about it… I really need to make sure I don’t pressure him.

  23. Anna says:

    A bit late, but I read this and had a thought, though I’m not sure how well I can formulate it. The stigma against “liking it too much” seems to me to be related to the idea that men are always in a state of wanting sex. By that stereotype, it’s normal for a man to masturbate frequently – and abnormal if he just doesn’t want to – because it’s in his nature. He’s always horny, it doesn’t mean anything, he thinks about sex every seven seconds anyway, he has to do it because of his libido. I think it’s the “has to do it” that makes it the most problematic, and connects it best to the fine line between “you don’t jerk off? crazy!” and “wow, you need to get laid, because your own hand shouldn’t feel that good.” Does that make sense?

  24. How is it that I’ve never known about you before? Whatever, there’s no time to figure it out right now. Must say, love this. I think we’re at the cusp of male sex toys becoming more accepted. I thought stuff like fleshlights were loserish, hilarious etc… until some reader on my blog pointed out the double standard. Damn, the dude was right.

    And, I concur, males masturbating is so very hot.

  25. Andrew says:

    I think there are several comments in here that should be amplified for their truthfulness. I don’t know anything about the gay male experience, but I think I’m reasonably clear on the traditional hetero male one, including delayed initial intercourse. I am always talking here about my experience with US culture here, not my personal beliefs.

    First, I’d like to strongly agree with the theme of masturbating making men vulnerable. Vulnerable looking, vulnerable feeling, and vulnerable to outside influence. There is an impression that it is a thing one does when sex with a partner isn’t available. Men are usually afraid that they’ll lose status if they show any weakness. One hierarchy runs from “men who can have sex with anyone they want (in this theory)” to “men who can have sex anytime they want” on down through several layers to “men who can’t find a woman willing to have sex with them” with sub-divisions of “without paying”, “even with paying” etc. In This Theory.
    It also leaves them vulnerable to attack (naked, hands unarmed), to blackmail, to all sorts of mental risks.

    This ties in with the idea of talking about masturbation being ok for guys who are clearly having sex regularly, because their status as “having sex” isn’t in doubt. That it is “normal” if it’s because you have access to partners but they just aren’t available right now. (On a trip, not in the mood, whatever). If there is the feeling this is your permanent state, either because your partner isn’t going to have sex with you or because you don’t have one and won’t, they it’s a sign of your inability to get or keep a mate. A looser, a failure.

    On the topic of masturbation aids, I think that they are seen as cementing the status of “not having sex”. In general perception your hand will do to get you off. If the purpose is to get you off occasionally or temporarily, that should be all you need. If you’re spending money on the project, it suddenly seems to be something more than that.

    Finally, on the topic of guys masturbating for their partners, I think one worry some guys will have is that if they ejaculate, they won’t be ready to continue for their partner if they want to carry on.

  26. Pinkgirl545 says:

    I just stumbled on your blog and am pouring through every post. Men and women have to acheive liberation together v

    Men should be able to enjoy sex toys just as much as women, but I do think the RealDoll is creepy.

  27. Bill says:

    What’s clear from this piece is that the writer seems not to have considered that real men, straight or gay, don’t give a toss what other men think about what gets them off.

    Little boys do.

  28. noahbrand says:

    @Bill: Yeah, tell you what. You’ve got the rest of the internet to puff your chest up and opine about real men, acting as though you’re somehow immune to societal programming and influence because you’re just so damned impressively masculine.

    ‘Round here, though, we’re going to point out how ridiculous that makes you sound. I mean, I’m sure you have some mechanism that allows you to talk such utter crap with a straight face, but I confess I can’t imagine what. Is it just a thick armor of denial, or do you have some kind of Hannibal-Lecter-esque strap-on face-straightening prosthetic?

  29. Ellie says:

    I recognize the “A wank is a poor substitute when what you really want is a fuck, but when all you want is a wank, it’s perfect” quote from The Pervocracy. If anyone was still wondering.

  30. amy maria says:

    i hadn’t really thought about this one before, since when I contribute to wanking conversations the less well-established (and sillier specimens) of my dude-friends give me this look like “you’re allowed to hang out with the boys, but it’s not socially acceptable for you to be part of all avenues of our conversation, eg: masturbation”. and of course because this is so immature it only fuels my wank talk to more fiery and graphic proportions to make those boys uncomfortable.

    also because i bought my first sex toy with a male friend, who bought himself a fleshlight while i bought myself a big PINK shiny translucent monster of a vibrating dildo (name of persephone) – but he’s gay, so that’s totally acceptable in as much as being gay is acceptable!

    but this is so true, good on you for addressing it.

  31. Pingback: New Comod | No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz?

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