If you ask any open-minded, educated person about masturbation, they will most likely smile and say it’s wonderful, healthy and normal. However, if you told them that masturbation was your favorite sexual outlet or even your only sexual outlet, that smiling face might turn into one of concern or confusion. Surely masturbation can’t be a substitute for sex, right?
A Short History on MasturbationMasturbation can elicit anxiety. It has done so for centuries. In the early part of the 18th century in London, England, a physician of dubious repute wrote a tract for the grub-street press. It was about a supposed ill that needed to be addressed like never before - and with haste. Until that point, people of all types and ages engaged in masturbation. However, this doctor felt or a moral imperative to shed light on this "self abuse" before it introduced people to physiological and/or psychological harm (epilepsy! consumption! death!). Not fifty years later, this "new" disorder and its attendant ills were included in the finest encyclopedia of the day.
A Growing Subculture of MasturbationNow, there is a growing subculture of men who are finding that masturbation is the best sex of their lives. These men might or might not also engage in traditional forms of sex, but the bind that links these men is an unabashed love of "bating."
Generally speaking, these men are going way beyond the quick wank in the shower before work to let off some steam. They are making an art of it. They are masturbating until they enter what they would describe as the "batehole." That is a place where the outside world melts away and sexual ecstasy takes over. They are meeting each other online on sites such as BateWorld.com or Chaturbate.com where masturbating on cam is the focus.
The aforementioned sites are the nuclei of a world of men who speak their own lingo. Masturbators are "bators." Their version of a man cave is the "masturbatorium," and their weekends spent "bating" are "batecations." These men bemoan moments of "Batus Interruptus" when the damn phone rings just as you are riding the "edge" of the "bate." Edging means the gradual build up to the heights of ecstasy, getting close to orgasm, pulling back before sailing over the cliff, calming down, gradually building up to the edge of sexual bliss again, and finally "gooning." Gooning is that point in the bate where men start to connect so deeply to the pleasure that their cocks and bodies are giving them that they enter a different state of consciousness.
On any site geared to masturbation, check out the videos of men "cockbabbling" which is a sort of speaking in tongues of the, "Oh my God, I love my cock. I’m a fuckin’ bator. I’m a fuckin' chronic, addicted, compulsive bator!" variety. True, gooning is considered to be that moment during a bate when porn is no longer necessary, where the connection to penis is all that is required to reach an almost frightening height of sexual ecstasy. Then, the batehole, a sort of sexual abyss, is entered. Type in the words "Tumblr" and "goon" in your search engine and see the collections of the prototypical look on a gooner’s face: Tongue hanging out, face contorted...man becoming satyr.
The most remarkable, and perhaps unexpected, thing about this community is that its members have taken to referring to each other as brothers. They feel bonded in a shared, yet private, experience. Unlike on other hook-up sites, these men are not necessarily trying to get in each others' pants. Rather, they are encouraging each other to get into their own pants.
SolosexualIndeed, many men have begun to refer to themselves as "solosexual." They define themselves as men who prefer masturbation over other sorts of sexual activity. However, the experience of masturbation can be paradoxically social. One bator described it to me as:
"Gooning is achieved through hours of porn and masturbation. It is an act that is almost, by definition, solitary. It is the domain of the solosexual. To share that experience with another seems almost a contradiction in terms; almost a contradiction in terms, but not quite. The heightened masturbatory experiences that men have achieved as solosexuals are largely possible because of the strange combination of privacy and sociality that the Internet permits. It is hard to imagine men masturbating daily for three, four or five hours at a stretch without online porn, cam, and chat to fuel their descent into the batehole. Solosexuals rely on online sociality to enrich their self-pleasure, which is to say that in some way, the solosexual’s act of solitary self-pleasure is always already sociable. Since solosexuality is sociable even as it is solitary, it is possible to achieve and to share something like mutual gooning: a fully self-absorbed uninhibited bate state in the presence of another in the same state."
This adulation of all things solosexual flies in the face of common wisdom. We live in a world in which masturbation is seen as a substitute for partnered sex when we reach adulthood. It's like a snack until the real meal comes along. In the centuries since the alarm bell about the so-called dangers of masturbation was sounded, the trickle effect from it still informs our discussion about masturbation, if we discuss it at all. The most recent print version of the Encyclopedia Americana (2006) had this to say under its entry on masturbation: "Masturbation may be a sign of an underlying psychological problem if an adult prefers it to sexual intercourse when a partner is available, or if it is abnormally frequent."
"Hogwash" is how most bators would react to such a statement. Bators are not shy about discussing issues such as addiction to masturbation, but they also refuse to be considered abnormal. Just as some people will watch TV for hours at a time, some bators will bate for hours at a time. They will tell you that no episode of "Modern Family" ever got them to the heights of ecstasy that bating does.
Remember the days when homosexuality was considered abnormal here in the West? Solosexuals are again challenging what is normal sexuality for an adult. There is something in masturbation, in the notion that we can do ourselves better than anybody else, that appears to threaten some. For others, embracing masturbation means that a new conduit to the deepest recesses of self has been found. That our sexuality, whether partnered or solo, leads us all on a journey into self, as frightening and exhilarating as that might be.