Insider Wanking 101

Masturbation for penis-owners remains a taboo topic, a pity when considering the world of pleasure to be discovered beyond the customary handjob. Sara Brown dived into why that is, and collected the testimony of penis-owners on how they elevate their solo play.


I grew up with heterosexual men around me being pretty vocal about their wanks and making cringe jokes about their semen. In contrast, it never felt right for the gals to go into details about our hookups, masturbation, probably even less about our liquids (menstrual blood, ejaculation, squirting, leukorrhea). The fact that males were entitled to do that while females weren’t, reinforced the idea that sex primarily depends on males’ ability to make females cum – sex is something males do to females.

Around 2015-2016, more women started questioning their place in the world and their involvement in sex as the #MeToo movement saw its rise worldwide. Feminism taught women and gender non-conforming people that we should raise our voices on our bodies, livelihoods, and civil rights to defy gender imbalance. Feminism taught us that we should reclaim our sexual agency to liberate ourselves from the systemic control of men (aka patriarchy). We learned that exploring our sexuality by ourselves is a political act and a necessary step toward equal rights in society.

So there are valid reasons why the main room of the sex-positive space is for females and queer folks to empower themselves sexually. Conversely, there’s little content on how penis owners can stimulate themselves in different ways. But is self-pleasure for all penis-owners that obvious? I asked the penis owners around me and who follow me on social media to tell me about their masturbation sessions, and, according to the collected experiences, I’d say not.

Men undoubtedly own privilege socially, economically, politically, and sexually. They have been the humanity’s universal standard for centuries and entitled to have a say even in matters that don’t directly affect their existences (see abortion, period poverty, females in sex work, gender reassignment for trans folks, and so on). From the Bible to all sorts of media in Western culture, male desire has been toxically narrated as a drive to possess and establish control.

F., a cisHet man, reflects on how we all are educated to understand masculinity as opposed to something else; usually something “feminine”, something weaker. CisHet men grew up affirming their masculinity by relying on women for their enjoyment. Maybe that’s why it was hard sometimes to keep my heterosexual interviewees focused on their personal experiences. Some would easily go off the rails and mention what they like during sex with others, and I had to remind them that the interview was solely about them and no one else.

Behind all the questions I asked, the big question; do men feel free about their relationship with their pleasure? How many live solo sex as a practice to discover what makes them feel good? Can male masturbation be more than just stroking the penis?

Different rhythms, different intentions

According to a most recent, extensive study on masturbation, more than 90% of males masturbate. But when and why do they do it? Of the 11 penis-owners I spoke to, most declared to masturbate to relax, often before going to bed and get a good night’s sleep, or to start fresh the day with a quick release. A. mainly masturbates to relieve stress and anxiety. While F. feels more focused after jerking off, for M. masturbation can be mentally draining.

My interviewees’ solo play time varies from 5-10 minutes to 30-40 minutes to two hours, depending on how they feel or if they intentionally want to explore.

Their routines are also pretty different. F. used to masturbate daily and has now reduced the dose to masturbating around 5 times per week. On the other hand, M. might not masturbate for one week or more if he doesn’t feel good enough to properly connect with his pleasure.

These males masturbate with three main intentions (see these as a spectrum where intentions can overlap in different capacities);

Solo Play for Penis-Owners: Beyond the Penis

80.5% of them switch between physical release and deeper connection. Only 1.5% declared to indulge in exploring their bodies more extensively; playing with other spots other than their penis, varying their practices, and allowing themselves to be surprised by what they find.

My friend S. started to boost his “personal quest for pleasure” by exploring a more sensual side of himself when masturbating. Excitement and the brain’s involvement are more complex than he used to think. Taking the time to sense the touch is essential to feel and understand his pleasure (and himself) more broadly and deeply. “I always had a controversial relationship with sex. I was in the ‘handjob and blowjob’ team. But thanks to cardinal events and relationships, much of this has changed over the last few years”, he told me.

What other spots arouse these guys? The big winner was nipples (50% of them), followed by caressing the chest gently. S. likes to touch his legs and lower abdomen. Other erogenous spots are the neck, ears, mouth, and lips. Try different touches; rub, pinch, or tug these areas and check how it feels.

Both T.,identifying as non-binary, and K., a cis bisexual man, integrate anal play into their solo sessions. “Exploring your P-spot, your prostate, is something I’d recommend to all men”, says T., who noticed cisHet men around them feeling shame to admit they like anal play as they say it. “That always confused me ’cause I’m like, ‘you have it! Why are you afraid to use it? There’s no shame in anal play’”.

If you tried tickling it already but are not  into it, like V. or F., you might want to explore your crotch and perineum (the highly erogenous area between your testicles and butt hole). I do not have a penis myself, but I will take the liberty to recommend you massage your perineum while stroking your whole shaft. And when you feel close to climaxing, pull down on your balls (then let me know).

What turns you on?

To get inspired for solo play, using the imagination allows them to slow things down as they take their time to focus on the sensations with no external stimuli to distract them. Concentrating on the images in your head (perhaps triggered by an image IRL) prepares the ground for more exploration and intense orgasms at the end of the journey.

On the other hand, porn can make masturbation “more mechanical” and faster. It’s not the case of G. for whom, even if he mostly uses porn as an aid, it is always about “cuddling” himself and never just a quick release. Curiously to me, none of them mentioned masturbating over their own image, for example looking at themselves in the mirror.

Be curious, be patient, try different masturbation techniques!

The answers varied when I asked them to share tips and techniques to intensify pleasure. For C., the key is to slow down, lighten the touch, breathe, and listen, taking the time to understand what you enjoy. C. is into textiles and stimulates himself by rubbing through his underwear. T. suggests edging or “the practice of engaging in sexual stimulation to the point of ejaculation before stopping and starting again” (Kandola, A., & Litner, J.). It heightens sensitivity every time you get close to orgasm, and rubbing your palm over the top of the tip, where the penis is most sensitive, makes the experience more enjoyable – and that final release much more intense. After all, as M. states, the most exciting part is the process. S. agrees, as he’s more aware of the complexity of his sexuality since he detached himself from the pressure of climaxing.

Just remember to “treat your penis right!”, F. and M. wisely advise. Do not stroke it too fast nor rush the process but play with different speeds, hands, strokes, and positions (lie on your back, stand on your feet, sit, or lie on your belly and thrust moving your hips circularly or back and forth).

Lube & Sex Toys? Yes, for your penis too!

Vulvas and anus need lube – your penis, too! F. uses massage oil to make it smoother and likes a cock ring to squeeze the shaft. Despite many men feeling too embarrassed to use sex toys solo,they can definitely boost your masturbation. You can also try a stroker or a sleeve, a vibrator with prostate stimulator, or anal beads if you are into butt play.

Solo Play, a practice still stuck in heteronormative thinking

Most men do not know about other men’s solo play experiences. During adolescence, some of them would share how many handjobs they had in a day and how hard their cock got during these, showing how “manly” they were. In their adult life, they still don’t seem to share that much about their pleasure. G. even surprisingly asked me, “why? Do you [vulva owners] do it?”. “Men don’t usually talk about pleasure or their feelings with each other unless they are very intimate friends (and sometimes not even that). And if they share anything is usually very normative; you probably wouldn’t tell about any “out-of-the-norm” kinks, like foot fetish”, said F.

“For MAAB, there’s not the typical shame you can have regarding women and masturbation, but it exists when exploring other areas beyond your penis. Even when playing solo, you’re taught to somehow perform heteronormative behaviors. You’re meant to be performative, to kind of go for it until you get there”, T. explained.

“The more I understood why women explore their bodies in such ways, the more I questioned why men don’t”, T. continues. “My non-binary experience contributed to intentionally breaking down all these masculine tenants; the morals of what a man is and should act. Why don’t men embrace themselves fully?”.

Men own privilege while they experience stigma on their sexuality exactly because of that privilege – which happens to be the same root of stigma on female sexuality. The different roles assigned to “masculinity” (= active) and “femininity” (= passive) suck and the truth is, heteronormativity and patriarchy affect all of us in different ways, no matter our gender.

From a young age, penis-owners are taught to avoid expressing their vulnerability. They are therefore less likely to share their feelings with their peers. Those who support “masculine” traits (self-sufficiency, hypersexuality, acting tough) are more likely to develop violent or suicidal thoughts (Heilman, B., Barker, G., & Harrison, A.). We cannot ignore this. Let’s cooperate in mutual empathy, celebrate what makes us different, and build a more sex-positive world beyond patriarchy altogether.



Heilman, B., Barker, G., & Harrison, A. (2018). THE MAN BOX: A Study on Being a Young Man in the US, UK, and Mexico. Equimundo.

Kandola, A., & Litner, J., PhD (2020, July 20). Everything you need to know about edging. Medical News Today.

TENGA Co. Ltd (2018, April 30). World’s Largest Masturbation Survey Uncovers How Traditional Views of Masculinity Prevent Men from Having Fulfilling Sex Lives & Relationships. PR Newswire.

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