Insider Wanking 101

When we consider the world of pleasure beyond the standard handjob, the taboo on masturbation for penis owners creates such a missed opportunity. Sara Brown delves into the reasons why and shares testimonials from penis owners who’ve elevated their solo play.


During my formative years, I shared company with many heterosexual men who openly discussed their experiences with self-pleasure. They occasionally peppered conversations with cringe-worthy jokes about their ejaculations. In stark contrast, there wasn’t as much room for women to divulge the details of our sexual encounters or our self-pleasure, much less to engage in discussions about bodily fluids such as menstrual blood, ejaculation, squirt or leukorrhea. This gendered discrepancy in conversational freedom contributed to the prevailing notion that sex primarily revolves around men satisfying women—constructing the perception of sex as something males do to females.

Around 2015 and 2016, as the #MeToo movement became more prominent globally, a wave of women began questioning their roles in the world and their involvement in sex. Feminism encouraged women and gender-nonconforming people to challenge gender imbalances, by raising their voices on matters related to their bodies, livelihoods and civil rights. It advocated for reclaiming sexual agency as a means to liberate oneself from systemic control by men and the forces of patriarchy. Exploring one’s sexuality independently became a political act and a crucial step towards achieving equal rights in society.

It’s understandable why the main focus of the sex-positive space is empowering females and queer folks to embrace their sexuality. Consequently, there’s little content on how penis owners can stimulate themselves in different ways.

Is self-pleasure self-apparent for all penis owners? I sought insights from the penis owners in my social circle and on my online social network. Their experiences provide nuanced answers.

Men undoubtedly possess privileges that are social, economic, political and even sexual. They have long been the universal standard for humanity, entitled to a say in matters that don’t even directly impact their lives (consider abortion, period poverty, women in sex work, gender reassignment, etc.). From the Bible to various media in Western culture, male desire has been portrayed as a toxic drive to possess and establish control.

Participant F., a cishet man, reflects on how societal norms shape our understanding of masculinity, often positioning it in opposition to femininity, which is perceived as something weaker. Cishet men grew up affirming their masculinity by relying on women for enjoyment. This dynamic made it occasionally difficult to keep my heterosexual interviewees focused on their personal experiences. Some would veer into discussing their preferences during sex with others, requiring a reminder that the interview solely focused on their individual experiences.

Beneath all the questions lies a critical inquiry: Do men feel liberated in their relationship with pleasure? How many view solo sex as a practice for self-discovery? Can male masturbation transcend the conventional act of penis stroking?

Different rhythms, different intentions

Engaging in solo play is a common aspect of male sexuality, with over 90% of males participating, as indicated by a recent comprehensive study on masturbation. The when and why of this activity varies among individuals, as revealed through my discussions with 11 penis owners.

Among those interviewed, a prevalent theme emerged—masturbation as a means to unwind and relax. Many expressed a preference for this solitary activity either before bedtime to ensure a restful night’s sleep or as a way to kickstart the day with a refreshed mindset. For instance, Participant A. highlighted how masturbation serves as a stress and anxiety reliever. Conversely, Participant F. finds increased focus after the act, while, for Participant M., the experience can be mentally draining.

The duration of solo playtime ranges widely, spanning from brief sessions of 5–10 minutes to more extended periods of 30–40 minutes to even two hours, depending on the interviewee’s mood or desire to explore.

The frequency and routines showcased considerable diversity. While Participant F. once engaged in daily sessions, he has now reduced himself to around five sessions per week. In contrast, Participant M. might abstain from masturbation for a week or more, choosing to connect with their pleasure only when they feel emotionally attuned.

The varied intentions behind male masturbation could be sorted into three main categories, which should be viewed as an overlapping spectrum:

Solo Play for Penis-Owners: Beyond the Penis

A substantial 80.5% of penis-owners swing back and forth between seeking physical release and establishing a deeper connection during solo play. However, a modest 1.5% indulged in a more expansive exploration of their bodies, which extended beyond the conventional focus on the penis. This minority engages in practices that involve playing with various erogenous zones, fostering a sense of surprise in their self-discovery.

My friend, S., embarked on a transformative “personal quest for pleasure” by delving into a more sensual aspect of self-pleasure. Recognizing the complexity of excitement and the brain’s role in the process, he discovered that dedicating time to sense touch is vital for a broader and deeper understanding of pleasure and self. Reflecting on his evolving relationship with sex, S. shared, “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”.

Delving into erogenous spots beyond the penis, the survey revealed that nipples claimed the top spot, enticing 50% of respondents. Additionally, gentle caressing of the chest, exploration of the legs and attention to the lower abdomen were noted. Other noteworthy erogenous zones included the neck, ears, mouth and lips. Experimenting with different touches—such as rubbing, pinching or tugging—offers a diverse range of sensations.

Interestingly, both Participants T., a non-binary person, and K., a bisexual cis man, incorporate anal play into their solo sessions. T. recommends exploring the P-spot (prostate), emphasizing that it is an experience they encourage all men to consider. Addressing the stigma around cishet men expressing interest in anal play, T. remarked, “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”.

For those who have explored tickling the P-spot without resonance, like Participants V. and F., there’s an alternative suggestion: Explore the crotch and perineum (the highly erogenous area between the testicles and the anus). While not possessing a penis myself, I would suggest massaging the perineum while stroking the entire shaft. And for an added twist when nearing climax, try gently pulling down on the balls (and do let me know your thoughts).

Feeling intrigued?

What turns you on?

Ever wondered what fuels your desires?

For many participants, cultivating inspiration for solo play involves a journey of imagination. By slowing things down and immersing themselves in the realm of fantasy, individuals have the freedom to focus on sensations without external stimuli vying for attention. This deliberate concentration on mental images, possibly informed by real-life experiences, lays the groundwork for a more profound exploration, culminating in intensely satisfying orgasms.

Conversely, the use of porn can make masturbation feel more “more mechanical” and brief. However, Participant G. stands out in this respect, since, even when using porn as an aid, his approach remains rooted in “cuddling” himself, opting for a comforting embrace rather than a swift release.

Interestingly, none of the respondents mentioned engaging in self-pleasure while gazing at their own image, such as in a mirror.

Be curious, be patient, try different masturbation techniques!

Answers varied when I asked for tips and techniques to intensify pleasure. C. advocates for a leisurely approach, emphasizing the importance of slowing down, applying a gentle touch, staying attuned to your breath and taking the time to understand what you enjoy. C. is into textiles and stimulates himself by rubbing through his underwear.T. suggests edging, “the practice of engaging in sexual stimulation to the point of ejaculation before stopping and starting again” (Kandola, A., & Litner, J.). This technique, known to heighten sensitivity, involves rubbing the palm over the most sensitive area, the tip of the penis, enhancing the overall experience and intensifying the final release.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. Remember: The key is embracing the diversity of sensations, allowing curiosity to be your guide.

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

Just like vulvas and anuses, your penis deserves the added delight of lube and sex toys. F. swears by massage oil for a smoother experience and finds joy in enhancing sensation with a well-fitted cock ring that gently squeezes the shaft.

Despite the lingering embarrassment some men may feel about solo sex toy use, the reality is that these devices can significantly elevate your masturbation experience. Consider incorporating a stroker or sleeve for a varied texture, experiment with a vibrator featuring a prostate stimulator, or explore the intriguing world of anal beads if you’re into the pleasures of butt play.

Solo Play, a practice still stuck in heteronormative thinking

Solo play, unfortunately, remains entrenched in heteronormative thinking for many men. Despite adolescent discussions about the frequency and prowess of handjobs, the openness about personal pleasure diminishes in adulthood. G. even asked me, “Why? Do you [vulva owners] do it?” F notes, “Men don’t usually talk about pleasure or their feelings with each other unless they are very intimate friends (and sometimes not even that),” adding that “if they share anything, it’s usually very normative,” avoiding discussions about any ‘out-of-the-norm’ kinks, such as foot fetishes.”

“For MAAB [AMAB in English], 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 behaviours. You’re meant to be performative, to kind of go for it until you get there”, T. explained.

T. sheds light on the societal pressures faced by Assigned Male at Birth (AMAB) individuals. Even in solo play, there’s an expectation to adhere to heteronormative behaviours, perpetuating performative actions solely focused on reaching a predetermined goal. “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?”

The privilege men hold comes with its own set of challenges. The rigid roles assigned to “masculinity” and “femininity” contribute to societal norms, perpetuating stereotypes that affect individuals regardless of gender. From a young age, penis owners are conditioned to suppress vulnerability, hindering open conversations about feelings with their peers. This avoidance can have serious implications, with those who support “masculine” traits (self-sufficiency, hypersexuality, acting tough) being more likely to experience violent or suicidal thoughts (Heilman, B., Barker, G., & Harrison, A.).

This can’t be ignored. Understanding and dismantling these ingrained norms is crucial for fostering a more empathetic and sex-positive world. Let’s celebrate our differences, challenge stereotypes and collectively work towards a world that transcends the constraints of patriarchy.


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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