A Look at Masturbation and Mutual Masturbation

by A. Wolf

Masturbation: A Stigmatized Practice

This is the third article in the series about the male sexual anatomy, sexual health and about sex for gay guys and persons with male endowments or male genital accoutrements. And we finally arrive at the first really spicy topic: jacking off, masturbation and mutual masturbation, the wank. And though we are talking about a sexual practice for the first time in this series (instead of male anatomical features as in the previous two articles), this article can’t all be practically minded – certain perceptions, attitudes and truths about masturbation compel me to first take a look at and to consider masturbation in a meaningful manner, in a psychological and a philosophical sense as well as in a socio-cultural context. 

Onanism: Origins of a Bad Reputation

We take our departure from that just-mentioned supreme truth that misguided perceptions and baseless ideas still rule the attitudes of some towards masturbation… I got a lot of insight into the development of traditional condemnatory attitudes towards masturbation from a book by R.E.L Masters published back in 1967 titled simply Sexual Self-Stimulation. It drags the historical origins and development of the most distorted, baseless beliefs about masturbation into the light of day.

   A foundation for later Christian anti-masturbation attitudes was already laid during the earliest ages of Christianity and was propagated and spread during consecutive periods of expansion of Christianity. It was the basis for both historical and traditional as well as for latter day negative Christian views of masturbation. It entailed doubtful and uncertain interpretation of one Biblical story as a perceived and implied injunction against “onanism” (the term for masturbation derived from this Biblical tale), namely the story of Onan in the Old Testament in Genesis 38; 8-10. In this story, the figure of Onan was supposedly killed by God for not listening to his father Judah’s advice that he has sex and father some children with his recently widowed sister-in-law. Onan said that “the descendants would not be his own” and instead, whenever he had relations with his brother’s wife, allowed his seed to be lost…” And so, the exact reason why God killed Onan is unclear, whether it was for not listening to his father, or for his said objection to his father’s advice, for not actually sleeping with his sister-in-law and impregnating her, or for shedding his seed on the ground and for, by complication, masturbating. 

A View of Masturbation Across Cultures

Some cultures see ejaculation as an act of self-pollution, as the body ridding itself of impurity, of a substance stronger than itself. In Islamic societies and cultures, the ejaculation of semen is also recognized as sometimes occurring as an unavoidable event, as a bodily reaction. As such, it is regarded as a blameless consequence of, for instance, clothing rubbing against the penis or as the unintended result of certain physical activities and bodily movements which caused friction over the groin which provided unexpected stimulation for ejaculation to occur. The emphasis is then on obligation to ritually fully cleanse the body of the secreted mani (sperm) through the major ablution and its full and complete ritual inundation with accompanying prayer (called wuhsl) and on dressing in clean clothing and washing sullied garments. 

   In certain cultures, children’s and adolescent masturbation can be seen as a playful activity that is almost unavoidable and as almost to be expected amongst pre-pubescent and pubescent boys or even as exploratory and learning activities which are normal amongst them and which is not to be condemned or punished. Allen Edwardes, in Masters’ anthology of texts on “Sexual Self-Stimulation,” claims there is a clear and definite difference between attitudes to masturbation by adults and forms of masturbation by children and that certain forms of permissible masturbation occur amongst Arab and Jewish children. These claims reside amongst a number in his essay “Self-stimulation among Arabs and jews” which today, fifty-five years after its publication in Masters (1967), may possibly be deemed highly contentious and as potentially controversial.

   Finally, there are cultures in which children’s and even adolescents’ and adults’ masturbation and mutual masturbation may not be taboo or which may not be vehemently condemned when detected by adults… This is the case in most of the West and Westernized societies and cultures in which a blind eye is usually turned to children and young people’s masturbation and in which an adult person who is known to have masturbated is made the butt-end of jokes or is jokingly chided and playfully, mockingly derided.

Surviving Modern Misconceptions About Autoeroticism

A common contemporary belief disparaging and denigrating the status of masturbation in adult gay sexual relationships is that masturbation is strictly a juvenile solo form of sex, that it is restricted and reserved and appropriate only for underaged minors and teenagers. Fact is solo masturbation is a universal phenomenon common to boys and men of all ages, many married men in all societies and cultures included.

Solo Masturbation as the Exploration of Desire and Fantasy

Solo masturbation which doesn’t happen at the cost of a partner, even if it is preferred to partnered sex by a single man, is in principle nothing pathological and deviant and it is not shameful or “unhealthy.” The single man preferring masturbation to partnered sex is not to be criticized and denied, no matter our personal preference for partnered sex.

   Solo masturbation is not the passionless, bland activity some would have us believe it to be. Allen Edwardes in Masters’ anthology again: “Because autoeroticism is the first sexual manifestation, and likely to be the last, it is veiled with a kind of mystic power. It entails pleasure without responsibility, a psycho-physiological release for self-love, and is the simplest and quickest form of gratification stimulated and sustained by endless fantasy.” Edwardes goes on to say it “places one on a forbidden self-sufficient, prepotent level with the gods. In other words, it is profanely presumptuous – a method of black magic!” 


Normality Versus Deviance and the Role of Pornography 

A primary feature of solo masturbation is the potent fantasy-driven aspect of the act. A person’s greatest and most cherished sexual desires are usually incorporated into solo masturbation to stimulate and drive arousal and to mentally fuel the act. Usually and normally, it entails fantasies of having sex with someone whom is greatly desired. That the persons desired may not be obtainable in real life does not necessarily mean it is shameful and should or does involve feelings of guilt. The pursuit of deviant desires can be unhealthy and consequential though. 

   Fantasy also relates to pornography. Let’s be clear about this: Whether you ever watch pornography or not is a personal choice – there are people who approve of pornography of certain kinds (such as porn which is not violent and demeaning to people) and there are people who abhor all pornography and who see it all as degrading to human dignity. It is not my right to judge between these two positions, the choice is yours. But I am compelled to point out, as those who don’t have problems with “ethical porn” probably knows only too well, that it may be used to stimulate arousal and fantasy and to heighten the experience and pleasure during masturbation and sex. Pornography can also be viewed to learn masturbation and sexual techniques. Beware though of becoming dependent on pornography, watching porn compulsively and obsessively and becoming reliant on it for arousal and to fuel sexual fantasies and experience. Masturbating to porn at the expense of giving sexual attention to your partner who is available is wrong and is a problem which you need to be addressed and there is help available.   

The Problem of Masturbation Instead of Partnered Sex

In contrast with past perceptions and attitudes, we have come to accept that single men might practice solo masturbation as an aspect of their preference of a single and solitary lifestyle, that some may prefer it to partnered sex and that we actually have no right or basis for condemning them. And we have recognized it as a valid substitute for partnered sex for someone in a relationship in the absence and unavailability of a partner. A man in a relationship who then solo masturbates is not “unfaithful” to his partner and may not be doing so at the cost of his partner. It can however clearly become an unhealthy escape and a needless avoidance of partnered sexual interaction by a partner who begins preferring self-stimulation to sex with his significant other. 

It might be difficult discussing such a problem with counselors and therapists, but it can be done online and via correspondence if face-to-face sessions are too difficult to face. An obvious attempt at a solution on a sexual level, if the masturbating partner is willing to try, is for him to allow the shunned and excluded partner to become involved in his masturbation activity and to allow him to become the helping or active and guiding “hand” in these sessions – while the partner being masturbated should also steadily allow introduction of non-masturbational procedures into their sessions as well. 

Exercise and Tips

We finally arrive at the more practical aspects of masturbation. With the fact that men of all ages masturbate acknowledged, we should also acknowledge that masturbation is important for getting to know your own body and for discovering your own preferences and proclivities, for acquiring sexual abilities and skills as well as for training and exercise to acquire control and endurance during all sexual activities. These functions and purposes begin with and during adolescent masturbation but are still valid functions and purposes of and during solo adult masturbation. And we are about to get technical…

Exercises and Tips for Solo and Mutual Masturbation: 

  • Wet Wanking – If you really have always only indulged in dry masturbation, it is time you vary your sessions to also include the wet variety. You need lubricant for it: There are water- and silicon-based lubricants available as well as other custom “stroke media” or lubricants custom made for masturbation as well as those for sex in general as well as the traditional lubricants of KY-Jelly and Vaseline. Avoid masturbating at all, difficult as it may be, but especially with lubricants if the penis has cuts and nicks on it or if its skin is inflamed, sensitive and red. Wet masturbation usually also entails sliding the hand along the shaft of the penis from the base towards the glans or tip or dickhead, but it is or can be slightly more focused on also giving the dickhead or glans a rub and a squeeze at and with the completion of the sliding motion. 
  • The O-Hold – Usually most guys use the “penis-in-fist” grip, but making an O with the forefinger and thumb around the shaft and sliding it up and down can also be pleasurably reminiscent of a blowjob.
  • The Secret of Warm Water – Wet masturbation can also literally mean solo and mutual jacking off in the shower or bath. It should preferably be done with some sort of lubricant and many bath and shower products will do, but care has to be taken in your selection since certain products may irritate and inflame the skin and particularly the glans. However, warm water is one of the secret pleasures of such sessions in the shower or bath: Directing a stream of suitably tepid or warm water onto the penis, and not only using the shower or bath’s spray to do so but using a large enough vessel which can hold sufficient water to pour a big enough stream for a couple of seconds as well as with a pouring lip or a spout which allows for focused pouring, is how it is done. Focus the stream onto the glans or dickhead, right onto the meatus which is the ridiculous term for the piss-slit or piss-hole – the objective is to stimulate the glans with the water caressing and tickling it. 
  • Anal Stimulation Combined with Masturbation and Mutual Masturbation – As the title suggests, you can also focus some form of action and stimulation on your partner’s ass during masturbation or mutual masturbation. While you masturbate him or while he masturbates you, carefully encircle the mouth of his anus with your fingertip and after a while insert a lubricated finger up his rectum while you jack him off or he let him do the same with you while he is jerking you off. You can also both do the same while mutual masturbating though both attempting it at once can be a little difficult, but it’s not impossible. It works best when doing it to a partner while you are masturbating them. But be careful, it can make him cum!                    

Exercise – Mutual Masturbation: 

  • Rubbing of the Glans – Mutual masturbation can be credited for allowing guys how sensitive the dickhead or glans of the penis is. This is especially true for circumcised guys who have lost a little surface sensitivity in the glans and who sometimes have not realized or discovered the full extent of the sensitivity of their glans. One of the procedures to try, especially at the beginning of mutual masturbation, is to rub the glans of one penis onto another persistently for a couple of moments. Both partners need to focus during the procedure, don’t rush it, move slowly and try to sense and feel your partner’s dickhead with and through yours: try to follow what is being done, every little movement, and register your partner’s dick becoming engorged and swollen when the rubbing is truly registered by him and when it becomes pleasurable and stimulating. Vary the motions employed during rubbing, encircling, sliding and rubbing… also prod the heads together so that one’s piss-slit presses onto the other’s.
  • Mutual Masturbation by Holding and Masturbating the Penises Together in One Partner’s Fist – As the title indicates, the penises are literally masturbated together in this procedure by holding them together in one partner’s hand pressing them together pointing up against each other. The motion employed is the usual masturbatory motion by the partner holding the penises together by sliding his hand up and down the shafts, but he can stop and let you both just enjoy him holding your dicks together and the sensation of registering your penises pressing against each other. Unlike one partner or both usually cumming in each other’s mouths or asses, this procedure of wanking your dicks together and of then also cumming together this way allows both of you to see and watch each other cum and it allows you to see and feel each other also cumming onto each other’s cocks… it is deliciously messy and very satisfying to watch.

   Sex is such an expansive, elaborate and intricate, potentially never-ending topic, but we have to stop here and let me thank you for bearing with me. I hope you had not only picked up some tips for practicing and employing (in going solo and mutual), but that this article also gave you a more enlightened, tolerant and less shameful and guilt-ridden outlook of masturbation. Join me again next month for the fourth installment when we will look at oral sex. 


  1. Wolf is the nom de guerre of a gay man who is also a LGBTQI activist and who is a regular contributor to Exit. He has an academic background in anthropology but is not a sexologist or a sex therapist, though he has done focused research for especially for this series of articles.


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