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File:Female masturbation.jpg
A female masturbating
File:Male masturbation 1.jpg
A male masturbating

Masturbation is the manual excitation of the sexual organs, most often to the point of orgasm. It can refer to excitation either by oneself or by another (see mutual masturbation), but commonly refers to such activities performed alone. It is part of a larger set of activities known as autoeroticism, which also includes the use of sex toys and non-genital stimulation. There are also masturbation machines used to simulate intercourse. Masturbation and sexual intercourse are the two most common sexual practices, but they are not mutually exclusive (for example, many people find the sight of their partner masturbating highly erotic). Some people are able to achieve orgasm only by masturbation and not by sexual intercourse. In the animal kingdom, masturbation has been observed in many mammalian species, both in the wild and in captivity.



The word masturbation is believed by many to derive from the Greek word mezea (μεζεα, "penises") and the Latin turbare ("to disturb"). A competing etymology based on the Latin manu stuprare ("to defile with the hand") is said by the Oxford English Dictionary to be an "old conjecture". The esoteric and little-used synonym manustupration is similarly derived from manus stuprare.

Masturbation techniques

Ways of masturbating common to members of both sexes include pressing or rubbing the genital area against an object, such as a pillow, inserting fingers or an object into the anus (see anal masturbation), and stimulating the penis or vulva/clitoris with electric vibrators, which may also be inserted into the vagina or anus. Members of both sexes may also enjoy touching, rubbing, or pinching the nipples while masturbating. Both sexes sometimes use lubricating substances to intensify sensation.

Reading or viewing pornography, or sexual fantasy, are common adjuncts to masturbation in adolescence and adulthood. Masturbation activities are often ritualised. Various fetishes and paraphilias can also play a part in the masturbation ritual; potentially harmful or fatal activities include autoerotic asphyxiation and self-bondage.


File:Canard vibrant.jpg
A vibrating duck. By de-dramatising the nature of a vibrator, this kind of toy has gained wider acceptance.

Female masturbation techniques are numerous and perhaps more varied than those of males. They are influenced by a number of factors and personal preferences.

Techniques include stroking or rubbing of the vulva, especially the clitoris, with the middle, index and/or second fingers. Sometimes one or more fingers may be inserted into the vagina to repeatedly stroke the frontal wall of the vagina where the g-spot is located. Masturbation aids such as a vibrator, dildo or Ben Wa balls can also be used to stimulate the vagina and clitoris. Anal stimulation is also enjoyed by some because of the thousands of sensitive nerves located in the anus. Lubrication is sometimes used to facilitate masturbation, especially when penetration is involved, but this is by no means universal and many women find their natural lubrication sufficient—some even produce more lubricant alone than with a partner, though the reasons for this seem to be primarily psychological.

Some prefer to masturbate in a bathtub, shower, or hot tub by using warm running water to stimulate the clitoris; or others may straddle a pillow, stimulating the clitoris through the labia and clothing in a manner similar to frottage. Some reach orgasm by crossing their legs tightly and clenching the muscles in their legs, which creates pressure on the genitals. It could potentially be done in public without observers noticing. Some prefer to use only pressure applied to the clitoris, without direct contact. This can be done by pressing the palm against underwear or other clothing. A very few women can orgasm spontaneously, after experiencing prior sexual arousal, due to intellectual stimulation, for instance listening to certain pieces of music. Often, these intellectual triggers have associations with previous instances of arousal and orgasm. Some women claim to be able to orgasm spontaneously by force of will alone, but that ability, if it exists at all, may not strictly qualify as masturbation as no physical stimulus is involved.

Those who have difficulty reaching orgasm through sexual intercourse may find it easier to achieve an orgasm through masturbation. Sometimes sex therapists will recommend that female patients take time to masturbate to orgasm, especially if they have not masturbated before.


A male masturbating

Male masturbation techniques are also influenced by a number of factors and personal preferences. Techniques may also differ between circumcised and uncircumcised males, as some techniques which may work for one can often be quite painful for the other.

The most common technique is to simply hold the penis with a loose fist and then to move the hand up and down the shaft until orgasm is achieved. When uncircumcised, stimulation of the penis comes from the pumping of the foreskin up and down the length of the shaft, which usually uncovers and covers the head in the process. This gliding motion of the foreskin reduces friction. When circumcised, on the other hand, the stimulation is sometimes from direct contact with the hand. Many massage (with some using a personal lubricant to reduce friction) the glans, the rim thereof and the notched indent left over from the removal of the frenulum.

Another technique is to place the index finger and thumb around the penis about halfway along the shaft and move the skin up and down to produce a pleasurable sensation. Another variation is to place fingers and thumbs on the penis as if playing a flute, and then shuttle them back and forth.

A less common pillow rubbing technique is to lie face down on a comfortable surface such as a mattress or pillow and rub the penis against it until orgasm is achieved - with a clean t-shirt on the pillow or mattress. However, some clinicians have claimed that this is potentially harmful. Some people claim such masturbation may result in pain, irritation, or abrasion if performed too roughly. (See Traumatic masturbatory syndrome for more details of these claims). Other techniques include the use of an artificial vagina or simulacrum for masturbation. Many fondle their testicles, nipples or other parts of their body while masturbating. Some may use vibrators and other sexual devices more commonly associated with female masturbation.

The prostate gland is one of the organs that contributes fluid to semen. As the prostate is touch-sensitive, some directly stimulate it using a well-lubricated finger or dildo inserted through the anus into the rectum. Stimulating the prostate from outside, via pressure on the perineum, can be pleasurable as well.

Ejaculation of semen is sometimes controlled by wearing a condom or by ejaculating onto a tissue or other item. A controversial ejaculation control technique is to put pressure on the perineum, about half way between the scrotum and the anus, just before ejaculating. This can, however, redirect semen into the bladder and the technique may cause long term damage due to the pressure put on the nerves and blood vessels in the perineum. A dry orgasm is one that is reached by withholding ejaculation. Proponents of tantric sex say that this is a learnable skill that can shorten the refractory period. Drugs, such as prolactin inhibitors, may also shorten the refractory period for a male. An example of this is the prescription drug Dostinex.

Males who can reach and stimulate their penis with their tongue or lips are said to be capable of autofellatio. Some men may taste or swallow their semen. There are no harmful effects from consuming one's own semen.

Historically, some have seen a connection between circumcision and masturbation frequency, which remains a debated topic. In a 1410-man survey in the United States in 1992, Laumann found that: "A total of 47% of circumcised men reported masturbating at least once a month vs 34% for their uncircumcised peers."

Masturbation frequency, age and sex

It is understood that most people begin masturbating when reaching adolescence. Many scholarly and clinical studies have been done on the matter, and many informal surveys have asked the question. A 2004 survey by Toronto magazine NOW was answered by an unspecified number of thousands. [1] The results show that an overwhelming majority of the males — 81% — began masturbating between the ages of 10 and 15. Among females, the same figure was a more modest majority of 55%. It is not uncommon however to begin much earlier, and this is more frequent among females: 18% had begun by the time they turned 10, and 6% already by the time they turned 6. Being the main outlet of child sexuality, masturbation has been observed in very young children. In the book Human Sexuality: Diversity in Contemporary America, by Strong, Devault and Sayad, the authors point out, "A baby boy may laugh in his crib while playing with his erect penis (although he does not ejaculate). Baby girls sometimes move their bodies rhythmically, almost violently, appearing to experience orgasm."

According to the Canadian survey of Now magazine readers cited above, the frequency of masturbation declines after the age of 17. However, most males masturbate daily or even more frequently well into their 20's and sometimes way beyond. This decline is more drastic among females, and more gradual among males. While females aged 13-17 masturbated almost once a day on average (and almost as often as their male peers), adult women only masturbated 8-9 times a month, compared to the 18-22 among men. It is also apparent that the ability to masturbate declines with age. Adolescent youths report being able to masturbate to ejaculation six or more times per day, while men in middle age report being hard pressed to ejaculate even once per day. The survey does not give a full demographic breakdown of respondents, however, and the sexual history of respondents to this poll, who are readers of an urban Toronto lifestyle magazine, may not extend to the general population.

In part this is due to the fact that females are less likely to masturbate while in a sexual relationship than men. Both sexes occasionally engage in this activity, however, even when in sexually active relationships. In general it is believed that individuals of either sex who are not in sexually active relationships tend to masturbate more frequently than those who are; however, much of the time this is not true as masturbation alone or with a partner is often a feature of a healthy relationship.

Health and psychological effects

It is held in many mental health circles that masturbation can relieve depression and lead to a higher sense of self-worth. Masturbation can also be particularly useful in relationships where one partner wants more sex than the other — in which case masturbation provides a balancing effect and thus a more harmonious relationship.

Both from the standpoint of avoiding unwanted pregnancy and that of avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, masturbation is the safest of sexual practices. There is no credible scientific or medical evidence that manual masturbation is damaging to either one's mental or physical health.

A man whose penis has suffered "an invasive procedure, blunt trauma or injury during intercourse"[2] may suffer later in life from Peyronie's disease. Usually in the context of an abnormal tunica albuginea, the rare event of penile fracture[3] may occur. Phimosis is "a contracted foreskin (that) may cause trouble by hurting when an attempt is made to pull the foreskin back"[4]. In each of these cases, overly aggressive manipulation of the penis can be problematic.

Contrary to popular myth, masturbation does not cause blindness. There is some basis, however, to the myth: zinc is required both to transport vitamin A from the liver to the retina and is excreted in relatively high amount in semen. Thus, it is not inconceivable that in zinc-deficient or vitamin A-deficient environments excessive male masturbation could have caused night blindness (in which case sexual intercourse has an equal probability of causing blindness). Given a normal contemporary diet, however, this is extremely unlikely to happen. There is also the more modern issue of staring at a computer screen while watching pornography for extended periods of time as the pupils tend to dilate during arousal.

The only side-effects recorded are that repeated masturbation may result in tiredness or soreness, which tend to make repeated masturbation self-limiting in any case. For men, the volume of ejaculate is temporarily reduced after multiple ejaculations until normal seminal volume is regained in a day or so. Nevertheless, people may experience feelings of guilt during or after masturbation, especially if they come from a socially conservative or religious background.

Solitary masturbation carries no risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Masturbation involving both a man and a woman can result in pregnancy only if semen contacts the vulva. Any masturbation with a partner can theoretically result in transmission of sexually transmitted disease by contact with bodily fluids, and such contact should be avoided with any partner whose disease status is uncertain. Objects inserted into the vagina or anus should be clean and of a kind that will not scratch or break. Care should be taken not to fully insert anything into the anus—any object used should have a flared or flanged base; otherwise retrieval can require a visit to the emergency room. Most modern dildos and anal plugs are designed with this feature.

In 1994, when the first woman appointed Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, mentioned as an aside that perhaps it ought to be mentioned in school curricula that masturbation was safe and healthy, she was forced to resign, with opponents asserting that she was promoting the teaching of how to masturbate. Many believe this was the result of her long history of promoting controversial viewpoints and not due solely to her public mention of masturbation. Her case led to the coining of a new and humorous slang term for masturbation: Firing the surgeon general.

On July 16, 2003, an Australian research team led by Graham Giles of The Cancer Council published a medical study [5] which concluded that frequent masturbation by males may help prevent the development of prostate cancer. The study also indicated that this would be more helpful than ejaculation through sexual intercourse because intercourse can transmit diseases that may increase the risk of cancer instead. Another study came to similar conclusions in April 2004 [6].

Masturbation in history and society


Samurai being masturbated by his kagema boyfriend
Early ukiyo-e print in the shunga (erotic) style. Moronobu Hishikawa, ca. 1680; Private collection.

There are depictions of male masturbation in prehistoric rock paintings around the world, though these are all entirely matters of interpretation. Most early people seem to have connected human sexuality with abundance in nature. A clay figurine of the 4th millennium BC from a temple site on the island of Malta, depicts a woman masturbating. However, in the ancient world depictions of male masturbation are far more common.

Male masturbation became an even more important image in ancient Egypt: when performed by a god it could be considered a creative or magical act: the god Atum was believed to have created the universe by masturbating to ejaculation. The ancient Greeks had a more natural attitude toward masturbation than the Egyptians did, regarding the act as a normal and healthy substitute for other forms of sexual pleasure. They considered masturbation a safety valve against destructive sexual frustration. The Greeks also dealt with female masturbation in both their art and writings.


In many religions, such as Catholicism, Mormonism, Islam, and (some parts of) Judaism, masturbation is regarded as a sinful practice. The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists masturbation as one of the "Offenses Against Chastity" and calls it "an intrinsically and gravely disordered action" because "use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose." It goes on to caution that extenuating factors could exist, such as immaturity, habitual, or psychological problems.

There is no unambiguous mention of masturbation in the Bible. The word "onanism" refers to the biblical story of Onan, who was obliged but refused to consummate a levirate marriage with his dead brother's wife:

"And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also." (Genesis 38:7-9)

The interpretation of early Christianity is that Onan transgressed by shirking his duty in using coitus interruptus to avoid impregnating his brother's wife. Later Christian interpretation, however, appears to have changed considerably over the centuries to focus on the physical act of Onan spilling his seed. This is also the traditional Jewish interpretation.

The first divergence appears in the early doctrine put forth by Augustine of Hippo, who argued that sexual intercourse for pleasure was an exercise in the sin of lust. Normally a mere venial sin within the context of a marriage open to children, he argued that a contraceptive act rendered it grave and mortal, removing it from the extenuating context of marriage altogether (On Marriage and Concupiscence).

Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest theologians of the Catholic Church, went further and taught that masturbation was a graver sin than rape. In his masterwork, the Summa Theologiae, he divides the sin of lust into six categories: simple fornication, incest, adultery, seduction and rape and "the unnatural vice", further subdivided into masturbation, zoophilia, homosexuality, pedophilia, and non-procreative heterosexual sex. He then explains that "the unnatural vice," including masturbation, is clearly worse than the other five types of lust-based sins, for it is a sin against both nature and reason, whereas rape is merely a sin against reason alone.

The "sin of Onan" – by way of Aquinas and those who followed him – became both synecdoche and euphemism for the many forms of non-procreational sex that were deemed sinful, an association that followed other attitudes toward sexuality across the Reformation and into the Protestant faiths.

Protestant theologians only began shunning these teachings toward the middle of the 20th century, with some today even taking pro-masturbation viewpoints. Masturbation, however, is still viewed in Catholic dogma and by many denominations as an act of self indulgence and a sin of the flesh, making it a contentious issue to this day.

Scholars of Islam consider masturbation to be haraam (forbidden) in Islam, making its acceptability within Islamic societies uncertain. Masturbation can also be considered to be something that breaks a fast. However, it is not a usual way to break a fast because it is a sin by itself. For example, according to Sheikh Hamed Al-Ali "Masturbation during the daytime of Ramadan breaks the fast, based on the Hadith that a fasting Muslim gives up eating, drinking, and sexual desire for the sake of Allah. Since masturbation is a kind of sexual desire, a fasting Muslim must avoid it. Therefore, masturbation invalidates the fast as does food and as it is one of the sins that if someone does it he or she would be violating the sanctity of this month." Template:Fact

It has been reported by Rolling Stone [7] that a small Christian-right group in America is encouraging people to wear a masturband to indicate a commitment to abstinence from masturbation.

Philosophical arguments regarding masturbation

Immanuel Kant notoriously regarded masturbation as a violation of the moral law. In the Metaphysics of Morals (1797) he made the a posteriori argument that 'such an unnatural use of one’s sexual attributes' strikes 'everyone upon his thinking of it' as 'a violation of one’s duty to himself', and suggested that it was regarded as immoral even to give its proper name (unlike the case of the similarly undutiful act of suicide). He went on, however, to acknowledge that 'it is not so easy to produce a rational demonstration of the inadmissability of that unnatural use', but ultimately concluded that its immorality lay in the fact that 'a man gives up his personality ... when he uses himself merely as a means for the gratification of an animal drive'.

Subsequent critics of masturbation tended to argue against it on more physiological grounds, however (see medical attitudes).

Medical attitudes

Excerpt from United States patent number 745264, filed on May 29, 1903 by Albert V. Todd. It describes a device designed to prevent masturbation by inflicting electric shocks upon the perpetrator, by ringing an alarm bell, and through spikes at the inner edge of the tube into which the penis is inserted. The entire patent document: Page 1, 2, 3, 4.
File:Chastity belt Heyser 0.png
Excerpt from US Patent 995600 by Jonas E. Heyser. The entire patent document: Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

The first use of "onanism" to consistently and specifically refer to masturbation appears to be Onania, an anonymous pamphlet first distributed in London in 1716. In it was a bombastic but novel tirade, drawing on familiar themes of sin and vice, this time in particular against the "heinous sin" of "self-pollution". After dire warnings that those who so indulged would suffer impotence, gonorrhea, epilepsy and a wasting of the faculties (included were letters and testimonials supposedly from young men ill and dying from the effects of compulsive masturbation) the pamphlet then goes on to recommend as an effective remedy a "Strengthening Tincture" at 10 shillings a bottle and a "Prolific Powder" at 12 shillings a bag, available from a certain shop in London.

One of the many horrified by the descriptions of malady in Onania was the notable Swiss physician Samuel-Auguste Tissot. In 1760, he published L'Onanisme, his own comprehensive medical treatise on the purported ill-effects of masturbation. Citing case studies of young male masturbators amongst his patients in Lausanne, Switzerland as basis for his reasoning, Tissot argued that semen was an "essential oil" and "stimulus" that, when lost from the body in great amounts, would cause "a perceptible reduction of strength, of memory and even of reason; blurred vision, all the nervous disorders, all types of gout and rheumatism, weakening of the organs of generation, blood in the urine, disturbance of the appetite, headaches and a great number of other disorders."

Though Tissot's ideas are now considered conjectural at best, his treatise was presented as a scholarly, scientific work in a time when experimental physiology was practically nonexistent. The authority with which the work was subsequently treated—Tissot's arguments were even acknowledged and echoed by luminaries such as Kant and Voltaire—arguably turned the perception of masturbation in Western medicine over the next two centuries into that of a debilitating illness.

This continued well into the Victorian Era, where such medical censure of masturbation was in line with the widespread social conservatism and opposition to open sexual behavior common at the time. [8] There were recommendations to have boys' pants constructed so that the genitals could not be touched through the pockets, for schoolchildren to be seated at special desks to prevent their crossing their legs in class and for girls to be forbidden from riding horses and bicycles because the sensations these activities produce were considered too similar to masturbation. Many "remedies" were devised, including eating a bland, meatless diet. This approach was promoted by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (inventor of corn flakes) and Rev. Sylvester Graham (inventor of Graham crackers). The medical literature of the times describes procedures for electric shock treatments, infibulation, restraining devices like chastity belts and straitjackets, cauterization or—as a last resort—wholesale surgical excision of the genitals. Routine neonatal circumcision was widely adopted in the United States and the UK at least partly because of its believed preventive effect against masturbation (see also History of male circumcision). In later decades, the more drastic of these measures were increasingly replaced with psychological techniques, such as warnings that masturbation led to blindness, hairy hands or stunted growth. Some of these persist as myths even today.

Medical attitudes toward masturbation began to change at the beginning of the 20th century when H. Havelock Ellis, in his seminal 1897 work Studies in the Psychology of Sex, questioned Tissot's premises cheerfully named famous men of the era who masturbated and then set out to disprove (with the work of more recent physicians) each of the claimed diseases of which masturbation was purportedly the cause. "We reach the conclusion," he wrote, "that in the case of moderate masturbation in healthy, well-born individuals, no seriously pernicious results necessarily follow."

Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of The Scout Association, incorporated a passage in the 1914 edition of Scouting for Boys warning against the dangers of masturbation. By 1930, however, Dr. F. W. W. Griffin, editor of The Scouter, had written in a book for Rover Scouts that the temptation to masturbate was "a quite natural stage of development" and, citing Ellis's work, held that "the effort to achieve complete abstinence was a very serious error."

Over the course of the next three decades, medical opinion of masturbation began to change, with many authorities abruptly reversing—often inexplicably—their condemnation of it. Today, modern medicine recognises that there is no significant harm (short term or long term) caused by the practice of masturbation and regards it as a normal part of human sexuality to the point where the above medical studies suggest it has health benefits.


In most countries, masturbation tends to be legal, even by children, as long as nobody else is involved and no image is made. However, a few jurisdictions in the U.S. do have laws against the distribution of masturbatory aids.[9] These laws are largely not enforced.

Masturbation in a public place, and in cases where somebody else is unexpectedly confronted with it, is usually considered "lewd and lascivious" or "dissolute" behaviour, or at least indecent exposure, both of which are misdemeanors. According to some historic chronicles, it has not always been so.

Laws may vary for masturbation as part of a performance, as a visitor of a live or screen performance, as a participant in a sex party, etc.


Because masturbation is often an uncomfortable topic among peers, a huge variety of euphemisms and dysphemisms have been invented to describe it. For a complete list of terms, see: "Sexual slang".

Humour and masturbation

Masturbation, mainly male masturbation, has long been the subject of humour. Even in the early Twentieth Century, Mail Pouch Tobacco advertisements in some cases featured a boy baby reaching into his diaper, with the caption, "He's found his mail pouch."

In 1879, Mark Twain gave a humorous talk at the Stomach Club in Paris entitled Some Thoughts on the Science of Onanism, which concluded with the thought "If you must gamble your lives sexually, don't play a lone hand too much." This talk was not published until 1943.

Some famous wits have commented on masturbation, as in P. J. O'Rourke's quote: "Sophisticated persons masturbate without compunction. They do it for reasons of health, privacy, thrift and because of the remarkable perfection of invisible partners."

Woody Allen, in the film Annie Hall, asserts "Don't knock masturbation. It's sex with somebody I love!" Also, in the film Love and Death, Woody has a wild off-screen, 5-minute encounter with a countess; she tells him, "You are a great lover!" and he answers, "Well, I practice a lot when I'm alone." In Hannah and Her Sisters, Mia Farrow's character suggests that their inability to conceive may be a result of Woody's excessive masturbation, to which Woody responds, "now you're gonna start knocking my hobbies?"

According to one biography, Allen Ginsberg came up with the idea for his celebrated poem "Howl" while masturbating with a broom.

Dorothy Parker reportedly said she had a parrot she named "Onan" because it was always "spilling its seed".

Humorous songs have been written about masturbation, such as Chuck Berry's hit song, "My Ding-a-Ling". This song has no sexually explicit lyrics, but is clearly intended as a double entendre: "This here song / it ain't so bad / the cutest little song / you ever had / Those of you / who will not sing / you must be playin' / with your own ding-a-ling!" It was in Berry's playlist for years, but was not committed to vinyl until 1972, whereupon it shot to number 1 on the Billboard chart.

In one episode of the Simpsons, a young boy is trying out for the talent show and brings up a song targeting his "ding-a-ling" The boy went on singing "My ding-a-ling, my ding-a-ling, I want you to play with my ding-a-ling" which resulted in him getting kicked off the stage.

Some other musical references to masturbation are the songs "I Touch Myself" by Divinyls, sung in one of the final scenes in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery; the Cyndi Lauper song "She Bop"; "The Sun and the Rain" by the British ska band Madness (according to sleeve notes); Frankie Goes to Hollywood's song "Relax"; (allegedly) Devo's song "Whip it"; Green Day's song "Longview"; and the 1970s disco song "Imaginary Lover" by Atlanta Rhythm Section. On the Oscar-winning Purple Rain soundtrack, Prince sings "I knew a girl named Nikki/I guess you could say she was a sex fiend/I met her in a hotel lobby masturbating with a magazine." in his song "Darling Nikki." This upset future Second Lady Tipper Gore. In 1990, rap group Digital Underground released "Sex Packets." The title track concerns a pill that will give men a sexual fantasy. The rapper states, "No more will I ever have to jack it/ 'Cuz instead, I can just take a packet." One of Billy Joel's early tunes, "Captain Jack", contains the line "Your sister's gone out / she's on a date / and you just sit at home / and masturbate." Jackson Brown's song "Rosie" is written from the perspective of a rock & roll roadie who always loses the girl to a member of the band but finds solace by singing, "looks like it's me and you again tonight, Rosie..." The song "It's Only Me (The Wizard of Magicland)" by the Barenaked Ladies is likely about masturbation, containing lines such as,"I'm the me in monogamy" and "It's only natural, It's only me". Also in two The Who's songs, Pictures of Lily and Mary-Ann With The Shaky Hand this subject is sung. "Blister in the Sun" by the Violent Femmes and "Turning Japanese" by The Vapors are both popularly thought to be about masturbation, although it is unclear if this was intended by the bands.

There are much older songs on the subject, including this old parody on a classic operatic tune (sing to the tune of "Funiculì, funiculà"):

Last night, I lay my head upon my pillow,
But stayed up late, to masturbate.
Last night, I lay myself upon my bed, but
I stayed awake, for pleasure's sake.
You should see me working on the short strokes,
It's really grand, I use my hand;
You should see me working on the long strokes,
It's really neat, I use my feet.
Smash it! Bash it! Pound it on the floor!
Smite it! Bite it! Ram it through the door!
Oh, it's so neat to beat your meat while sitting on the toilet seat,
Isn't life divine,
Funiculì, funiculà.

In 2002, R&B singer Tweet released a song called Oops (Oh My). The lyrics seemed to have small hints of masturbation.

In 2003, American pop singer Britney Spears released in her In The Zone album, which included a song entitled Touch Of My Hand. The song contains blatant references to masturbation. The lyrics are as follows: "'Cause I just discover / Imagination's taking over / Another without a lover / The more I come to understand / The touch of my hand" [...] "I'm all in my skin / And I'm not gonna wait / I'm into myself in the most precious way". On her Onyx Hotel World tour, the performance for the song, showed Spears "dancing" naked covered with diamonds in a hot-tub, while her backup dancers were in underwear touching all over in their own beds. Also, in the In The Zone DVD, Britney said that it was something natural for people to do, that she had done it, and that she did the song intentionally to see the reaction of the media.

In recent years, there have been many masturbation jokes in movies, such as in American Pie, where the pie (more or less of the title) is used as a masturbation object to generate humour. The characters believe that by masturbating with a pie, one can imitate a female vagina. A famous scene in There's Something About Mary has Ben Stiller "cleaning the pipes" before a big date to calm his nerves.

One of the most famous discussions about masturbation by popular culture was done on the television show Seinfeld. In it, the four main characters made a bet as to which one could go the longest without masturbating. The episode coined the phrase "master of your domain" to refer to a person who can resist the temptation to masturbate. This episode also wound up winning an Emmy award.

The apparently addictive nature of masturbation has also been the subject of humour. Lenny Bruce, who was well-acquainted with addictions, had this bit of advice: "If you're going to stop masturbating, you can't 'taper off'. You've got to quit, Cold turkey!"

There are many popular jokes about masturbation, including one upon which you summon someone across the room by extending and bending your index finger until they walk over, upon which you say, "I knew if I fingered you long enough you would come!"

Comedian Richard Jeni has made countless jokes about masturbation, claiming he is "the best he has ever had." He claims that 90% of men masturbate, the other 10% have no arms (60% of women masturbate, the other 40% expect people to believe it takes that long to take a bath).

See also


  • DeMartino, Manfred F. Human Autoerotic Practices. New York: Human Sciences Press, 1979. ISBN 0877053731.
  • Marcus, Irwin M. Masturbation: From Infancy to Senescence. New York: International Universities Press, 1975. ISBN 0823631508.
  • Stengers, Jean; van Neck, Anne. Masturbation: the history of a great terror. New York: Palgrave, 2001. ISBN 0312224435. (Discusses Victorian attitudes toward masturbation.)

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