Imagine if the overwhelming majority of people in the world enjoyed knitting. Let’s say 95% of men and 81% of women said they’d knitted during their lifetime, and most of them did it regularly. On average people knitted somewhere between 8 and 15 times each month. You’d expect us all to be talking about it quite a lot, right? If so many people enjoyed it, surely we’d have regular discussions about the benefits of knitting, and none of us would be ashamed to admit that we pick up a ball of wool every now and then and have ourselves some fun.
So why are we still so reluctant to talk about our masturbation habits?
The stats above aren’t about knitting at all – they come from a recent survey into the masturbation habits of people in the United States. Sex toy company Tenga asked 1200 people about masturbation and collated their findings into a report. Their conclusion? The vast majority of people are doing it, but very few are happy to talk about it openly, leading to some quite odd misconceptions about masturbation.
For instance, although 95% of men and 85% of women say they’ve masturbated, when people were asked to guess what percentage of people had done it, their estimates were much lower: 84% for men and 68% of women.
Masturbation: reasons to masturbate
1. Naturally one of the main benefits of masturbation is that it gives you the release – and pleasure – of orgasm. But that’s not the only reason to do it: 54% of people said that they masturbate because it is also good stress relief, and 26% of respondents said it worked as a sleep aid.
2. Masturbation can help you learn more about your own body, and how to get pleasure. In the research, 13% of people said that they masturbate in order to improve their own sexual performance. This might be masturbating to increase your stamina, if you have issues with premature ejaculation, or masturbating to find out more about what ‘works’ for you, so you can give your partners tips on how to please you in the bedroom.
3. As well as being a super-fun thing to do on your own (here are some masturbation tips if you want to experiment), masturbation can be a fantastic addition to your partnered sex too. 25% of millennials have masturbated with their partner over Skype, phone, or some other means of telecommunication. What’s more, of the people who had masturbated in front of their partner (by phone or in person), 95% said the experience was ‘good’, ‘very good’ or ‘excellent.’
4. It’s way more fun than knitting.
Overcoming masturbation stigma
Like almost everything that happens below the waist, masturbation has a stigma attached. Thanks to a combination of individual embarrassment and cultural shame, this beneficial and enjoyable activity is often only talked about in whispers.
Our key mission at Hot Octopuss is to help tackle sex stigma wherever it exists – whether it’s challenging misconceptions about sex and aging, disability, sexual issues such as erectile dysfunction: you name it. And tackling the stigma surrounding masturbation is vital too – whether it’s to help people become more comfortable with their bodies or help them access the health benefits of masturbation such as stress relief.
Recently we took to the streets of New York to give sex advice to people who wanted it – having a positive (and really really fun) discussion about sex to encourage people not to be so shy about it. You don’t have to travel your hometown in a pedal-powered bed like we did, but by sharing information, resources and advice on masturbation you can help us break down the stigma.
Encourage more people to enjoy their bodies, and not be ashamed of them.