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The most fun any one person can have whilst being totally alone.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (on masturbation)

Masturbation,[1] suspected to be from the Latin manus (hand) and stuprare (soil, make dirty), is the act of gratifying oneself sexually, often while alone. It can also apply, as in "mutual masturbation", to more than one person gratifying each other without resorting to direct genital-to-genital stimulation.

Masturbation is sometimes (often) also aided by sex toys and/or pornography. Especially pornography.

Cultural attitudes[edit]

Hey, don't knock masturbation! It's sex with someone I love!
—Alvy Singer (Woody Allen), Annie Hall (1977)

Different societies, cultures, and religions have taken various positions on masturbation. In a nutshell, "Different strokes for different folks", you might say. A few are given below.

Your hands are too short to beat with God

Some Christians oppose masturbation, and many don't; in fact, some may condone it as a means of controlling one's sex drive when needed. Biblical scriptures against masturbation tend to be pretty indirect due to its highly taboo status — in some cases (e.g., the sin of Onan), it's not completely clear what specific act is envisaged or, if it does refer to masturbation, whether it's condemning the act in and of itself or only because it, in the particular context being spoken of, meant disobeying God (by refusing Yahweh's command in Genesis 38:8 to sire children with his late brother's widow).

And so if God was there from the very beginning, he invented men and women, then he also invented wanking, then he said wanking was sinning, so if I'm feeling randy, I'm not allowed to hand-shandy, but having sex with my family, that is just fucking great. (It's all there in Ezekiel 8)[2]

Seventh Day Adventism[edit]

The founder of Seventh Day Adventism, Ellen G. White, had much to say on the subject of masturbation:

Children who practice self-indulgence [masturbation] previous to puberty, or the period of merging into manhood or womanhood, must pay the penalty of nature's violated laws at that critical period. Many sink into an early grave, while others have sufficient force of constitution to pass this ordeal. If the practice is continued from the age of fifteen and upward, nature will protest against the abuse she has suffered, and continues to suffer, and will make them pay the penalty for the transgression of her laws, especially from the ages of thirty to forty-five, by numerous pains in the system, and various diseases, such as affection of the liver and lungs, neuralgia, rheumatism, affection of the spine, diseased kidneys, and cancerous humors. Some of nature's fine machinery gives way, leaving a heavier task for the remaining to perform, which disorders nature's fine arrangement, and there is often a sudden breaking down of the constitution; and death is the result.[3]:63

Females possess less vital force than the other sex, and are deprived very much of the bracing, invigorating air, by their in-door life. The result of self-abuse in them is seen in various diseases, such as catarrh, dropsy, headache, loss of memory and sight, great weakness in the back and loins, affections of the spine, and frequently, inward decay of the head. Cancerous humor, which would lie dormant in the system their lifetime, is inflamed, and commences its eating, destructive work. The mind is often utterly ruined, and insanity supervenes.[3]:73

It is not the taxation of study alone that was doing the work of injury to your children, but that their own wrong habits were sapping the brain, and robbing the entire body of vital energy. The nervous system was becoming shattered by being often excited and thus laying the foundation for premature and certain decay. Self-abuse is killing thousands and tens of thousands.[4]

The minds of some of these children are so weakened that they have but one half or one third of the brilliancy of intellect that they might have had, had they been virtuous and pure. They have thrown it away in self-abuse. Right here in this church, corruption is teeming on every hand.[5]

Now, if Ellen White didn’t masturbate, there must have been some other reason why she was so silly.

John Harvey Kellogg,Wikipedia Seventh Day Adventist, co-inventor with his brother of corn flakes (from which they made money hand over fist), took a hard stand against masturbation. The chapters Solitary Vice and A Chapter for Boys in his 1879 book Plain Facts for Old and Young are impossible to summarise. The following extracts might stimulate you to read the whole book, full of similar insights and mental images. It arouses the reader and works towards a satisfying climax; it would appear doubtful that this was tossed off in a single session as the exciting rhythm of his writing, engorged with detail, is regular rather than jerky or edgy:

A Dreadful Sin.— The sin of self-pollution is one of the vilest, the basest, and the most degrading that a human being can commit. It is worse than beastly. Those who commit it place themselves far below the meanest brute that breathes. The most loathsome reptile, rolling in the slush and slime of its stagnant pool, would not bemean itself thus. It is true that monkeys sometimes have the habit, but only when they have been taught it by vile men or boys. A boy who is thus guilty ought to be ashamed to look into the eyes of an honest dog. Such a boy naturally shuns the company of those who are pure and innocent. He cannot look with assurance into his mother's face. It is difficult for any one to catch his eye, even for a few seconds. He feels his guilt and acts it out, thus making it known to every one. Let such a boy think how he must appear in the eyes of the Almighty. Let him only think of the angels, pure, innocent, and holy, who are eye-witnesses of his shameful practices. Is not the thought appalling? Would he dare commit such a sin in the presence of his father, his mother, or his sisters? No, indeed. How, then, will he dare to defile himself in the presence of Him from whose all-seeing eye nothing is hid?[6]

Self-Murderers.— Of all the vices to which human beings are addicted, no other so rapidly undermines the constitution and so certainly makes a complete wreck of an individual as this, especially when the habit is begun at an early age. It wastes the most precious part of the blood, uses up the vital forces, and finally leaves the poor victim a most utterly ruined and loathsome object. If a boy should be deprived of both hands and feet and should lose his eyesight, he would still be infinitely better off than the boy who for years gives himself up to the gratification of lust in secret vice. For such a boy to become a strong, vigorous man is just as impossible as it would be to make a mammoth tree[note 1] out of a currant bush. Such a man will necessarily be short-lived. He will always suffer from the effects of his folly, even though he shall marry. If he has children — he may become incapable — they will be quite certain to be puny, weak, scrofulous, consumptive, rickety, nervous, depraved in body and mind, or otherwise deprived of the happiness which grows out of the possession of "a sound mind in a sound body."[6]

In British vernacular, we'd call him a total wanker. The question is if his intimates ever called him Jack.

Betty Dodson[edit]

Sex educator Betty Dodson, on the other hand, wrote Sex For One, an entire book on how to enjoy masturbation more. Most people who have studied the subject are more inclined to take her side.


In Theravadan Buddhism, for monks, masturbation is considered 'unskillful', a 'vice' or a form of 'attachment' that causes addiction to sexual cravings (from which suffering ultimately arises) — though, never mind the obvious fact that masturbation can likewise function as a way to still such cravings. For laypeople, it is still considered a vice but is still "okay" per se, as long as people do so according to the eightfold path, precepts, and other Buddhist teachings. Sexual attraction results from the delusion of cultures, which enculturate people into lusting after a pus-, blood-, and filth-laden vessel, whether male or female. This claim can be slightly supported in cross-cultural anthropology and sociology, and Feminism and its subfields have studied the subject with similar conclusions. The practice of Paṭikkūlamanasikāra, a 32 body part, vipassana meditation, is prescribed for overcoming such cravings. This practice, though never studied in a scientific setting, might have a slight effect on reducing sexual urges temporarily, although there may be other unknown consequences of this practice.


Not only are they aware of the differences between male and female masturbation, but they're also not shy to point them out. Male masturbation is called sendzuri,[7] which translates as "1,000 strokes." Female masturbation, however, is mandzuri,[8] which translates as "10,000 strokes." The current world record holder for prolonged masturbation is Japanese.[9][10]

Victorian and Edwardian Britain[edit]

Two quotations from the nineteenth century suggest that masturbation was held to have damaging physical effects. Physician William Acton pulled the following out of his ass:

The frame is stunted and weak, the muscles undeveloped, the eye is sunken and heavy, the complexion is sallow, pasty, or covered with spots of acne, the hands are damp and cold, and the skin moist. The boy shuns the society of others, creeps about alone, joins with repugnance in the amusements of his schoolfellows. He cannot look any one in the face, and becomes careless in dress and uncleanly in person. His intellect has become sluggish and enfeebled, and if his evil habits are persisted in, he may end in becoming a drivelling idiot or a peevish valetudinarian. Such boys are to be seen in all stages of degeneration, but what we have described is but the result towards which they are all tending.[11]

Forty years later, Grimsby trawler owner Charles Jeffs wrote in response to a Board of Trade report that remarked upon the high rate of deaths among apprentices in the fishing industry that:

Quite two thirds of our lads from workhouses or schools have inherited or contracted the habit of self-abuse, the result of which if not stopped is that phthisis sets in and they die or their reason gives way. I have made a special study of this dire disease and there is scarcely a day goes over my head but what I have to take one or more of the lads aside and endeavour to teach them the dangers of this practice.[12]

Or maybe they just went blind and fell over the side. Or maybe it really was a dangerous job.

Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scout Movement, set out his interesting opinions in 1908:

Some boys, like those who start smoking, think it is a very fine and manly thing to tell or listen to dirty stories, but it only shows them to be little fools.

Yet such talk and the reading of trashy books or looking at lewd pictures are very apt to lead a thoughtless boy into the temptation of self-abuse. This is a most dangerous thing for him, for, should it become a habit, it tends to lower both health and spirits.

But if you have any manliness in you, you will throw off such temptation at once. You will stop looking at the books and listening to the stories, and will give yourself something else to think about.

Sometimes the desire is brought on by indigestion, or from eating too much rich food, or from constipation or from sleeping in too warm a bed with too many blankets. It can therefore be cured by correcting these, and by bathing at once in cold water, or by exercising the upper part of the body by arm exercises, boxing, etc.

It may seem difficult to overcome the temptation the first time, but when you have done so once it will be easier afterwards.

If you still have trouble about it, do not make a secret of it, but go to your father, or your Scoutmaster, and talk it over with him, and all will come right.[13]

This final paragraph could perhaps have been better worded.[14]

Modern British popular culture[edit]

In 2006, Channel 4 television commissioned a documentary about the UK's first "Masturbate-A-Thon" as part of a series of programmes dubbed "Wank Week".[15]

Rock & Roll[edit]

  • There is something almost Pavlovian about Chuck Berry and the bell in "My-Ding-A-Ling"
When I was little boy in grammar school,
I used to stop off in the vestibule,
But every time the bell would ring,
You'd catch me playing with my ding-a-ling.[16]
  • In their 1969 song, "Rattlesnake Shake", Fleetwood MacWikipedia proclaims:
I know this guy
His name is Mick
Now, he don't care when he ain't got no chick
He do the shake
The rattlesnake shake
Yes, he do the shake
And jerks away the blues
Now, jerk it[17]
  • The Buzzcocks started the beat off in 1977 with:
Well you tried it just for once found it all right for kicks.
But now you found out that it's a habit that sticks,
and you're an orgasm addict.
You're an orgasm addict,
sneaking in the back door with dirty magazines.
Now your mother wants to know what all those stains on your jeans.[note 2][18]
  • In Cyndi Lauper's anthem, She Bop,Wikipedia we discover:
Do I want to go out with a lion's roar
Huh, yea, I want to go south and get me some more
Hey, they say that a stitch in time saves nine
They say I better stop or I'll go blind
Ooh she bop, she bop
  • There is a long-held rumor that “Turning Japanese” by The Vapors is about masturbation. However, the song could just be an excuse to be racist and creepy with lyrics like:
I’ve got your picture, I’ve got your picture
I’d like a million of you all round my cell
I want a doctor to take your picture
So I can look at you from inside as well.[19]
  • Green DayWikipedia has multiple references to masturbation in "Longview":
When masturbation's lost its fun
You're fucking lonely
Bite my lip and close my eyes
Take me away to paradise
I'm so damn bored I'm going blind
And loneliness has to suffice
Bite my lip and close my eyes
I'm slipping away to paradise
Some say quit or I'll go blind
But it's just a myth[20]
  • Never one to back off, Prince, in "Gotta Stop (Messin' About)", contributes:
I've been playin' with my toy so much I'm gonna go blind
Gotta stop, gotta gotta stop, messin' about[21]

Other popular culture expressions[edit]

  • Portnoy's Complaint, (1969) a novel by Philip Roth which left liver almost uneatable by a large percentage of the reading population.


Let me tell you somethin': Bustin' makes me feel good.
Ray Parker Jr.Wikipedia

The effects of masturbation are numerous and result in things such as:


  • Pleasure, often to the point of mild euphoria and enjoyable involuntary muscular contractions.
  • Allowing people to reach an orgasm when they may not be able to achieve one from sexual intercourse.[citation NOT needed]
  • Decreasing levels of prostate cancer in older men.[22]
  • Boosting the immune system.[23]
  • The release of dopamine and oxytocin, chemicals that "activate the reward circuits in your brain."[24]
  • The reduction of stress and anxiety.[citation NOT needed]
  • A reliable source of income for manufacturers of paper tissues.
  • Providing deposits for your local sperm bank.


God does not approve of spilling your seed, because it violates the Bible commandment to be fruitful and multiply, and he'll show it by killing an innocent, adorable animal that was a product of fruitful multiplication.

These have yet to be verified using double-blind trials per the scientific method. (There are, however, said to be many eager college students prepared to be paid volunteers for such a long-term study for the benefit of humankind, at least as long as they are not part of the control group.[note 3])

  • Making you go blind.[note 4] OK, Can I Do It… 'Til I Need Glasses?Wikipedia
  • Ye being rubbed out struck down by the vengeful hand of God.
  • Homosexuality.Do You Believe That?
  • Dead kittens.
  • Por speleing.
  • Eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire.
  • Increased time spent in purgatory.
  • Complaints that you're monopolizing the bathroom.
  • Sore wrists and forearm muscles (definitely some anecdotal evidence available).
  • Sticky computer monitors and/or keyboards if jacking off to internet porn.[citation NOT needed]
  • Peyronie's diseaseWikipedia (where the tissue in parts of your knob harden, thus causing said erect knob to bend alarmingly — this affects only about 5% of men and isn't caused by masturbation per se, but wanking too often or being too rough with oneself can be a contributing factor if you have an underlying "genetic predisposition"[25] to the disease).
  • Phthisis.Wikipedia
  • A feeling of numbness after orgasm. This mental numbness is temporary and can last anywhere from mere seconds to an hour, depending on how intense the resulting orgasm is. This feeling may be related to the release of the hormone prolactin, which "serves to decrease arousal"[26] after you splooge.
  • Addiction (at least according to Mormons and the folks at NoFap; unfortunately for them, the American Psychological Association disagrees).[27]
  • Grossing out whoever is unfortunate enough to catch you in the act.[citation NOT needed]

Ultimately, the general consensus of the medical community is that masturbation is "natural and harmless".[28]

Masturbation and the law[edit]

  • The Jewish Talmud states, "Whosoever emits semen in vain deserves death."[29]
  • Pee Wee Herman was arrested for, ahem, "making it big" in the movies.
  • Texas Representative Michael Burgess incorrectly cited a study on fetus masturbation to try and ban abortions after the 20th week, believing that's when boys started. The actual study was on a 32-week-old female fetus.[30]
  • Pseudo-Judaism crank "rabbi" Yaron Reuven says that masturbation is equal to murdering 300,000,000 people.[31]

How to[edit]

absolutely pounding a zip lock bag of cut up hot dogs in the portle potty

The internet was created for the express purpose of answering this question. Use your brain first, then your hands. However, if you're Spanish, you're taught how to do it as part of your school sex education, causing much outrage from the Roman Catholic Church and conservatives.[33]

How not to[edit]

Autoerotic asphyxiation is really not a good idea; it can easily lead to death. A few of the better-known and/or more exotic cases of death-by-masturbation were summarized by Jim Goad.[34]

Public masturbation is a big no-no in most parts of the world.[citation NOT needed] Including Disneyland — you have been warned.

Don't be too rough with yourself, especially past your 30s, as it can cause permanent damage to your genitalia (see above re. Peyronie's Disease), which is bad for everyone.

See also[edit]

Icon fun.svg For those of you in the mood, RationalWiki has a fun article about Spilling his seed.

External links[edit]


  1. The mammoth tree may be extinct; there appears to be no mention of it in more recent literature.
  2. After three decades, Pete Shelley, a co-author of the song, actually finds the song embarrassing,
  3. Unless the control group involves actual sexual activity at the same frequency of masturbation, especially if the partners for said sexual activity are arranged for them.
  4. This author has indulged in the aforementioned activity on numerous occasions and despite not being blind is unable to see any hairs on the palms of the hands.


  1. For other amusing euphemisms, see here.
  2. Tim Minchin, Ten Foot Cock and a Few Hundred Virgins.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ellen G. White, A Solemn Appeal, Relative to solitary vice, and the abuses and excesses of the marriage relation. Steam press, 1870.
  4. Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases Volume Five, p. 396 (Letter to Dr. and Sister Lay, Feb. 13, 1870).
  5. Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church Volume Two, p. 361.
  6. 6.0 6.1 John Harvey Kellogg, Plain Facts for Old and Young. Segner & Condit, Burlington, Iowa, 1879, via Project Gutenberg.
  11. Steven Marcus, The Other Victorians. Basic Books, Inc., 1966, p. 19, quoting physician William Acton in 1857.
  12. National Archives, MAF 12/15, Apprentices: Investigation of the Fishing Apprenticeship System, 1894, letter from Charles Jeffs to A.D. Berrington, in correspondence.
  13. Robert Baden-Powell, Scouting For BoysWikipedia. 1908.
  14. Scout Association says it is deeply sorry for child abuse within the movement. The Guardian, 10 December 2014.
  15. More tossers on TV
  18. Robert Dimery, 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die. Cassell Illustrated, 2010, p. 384. ISBN 9781844037360.
  26. Stuart Brody, Tillmann H C Krüger, "The post-orgasmic prolactin increase following intercourse is greater than following masturbation and suggests greater satiety", Biological Psychology
  29. Niddah 13a
  34. 13 People Who Died From Masturbating by Jim Goad (December 6, 2014) Thought Catalog