So I was reading this Guardian piece on beatin’ it. (Or, depending on the genitals you possess, um...“opening your ham wallet?” Jesus, that’s a terrible euphemism.) It features statistics on the types of people who beat and don’t beat it, how and when they beat it (if they indeed beat it), how often and for how long the beatin’ takes place, and all sort of other fun beatin’ data.
In there is this graph, and my goodness:
You’ll want to enlarge that image, make it all tumescent and legible. It is one man’s masturbation diary charted, spanning three full years and marking down the duration of each session.
The 21-year-old data collector, Reddit user “touchingforscience,” breaks it out for us:
•Number of sessions: 897
•Longest session time: 150 minutes
•Shortest session time: 5 minutes
•Average time: 35 minutes
•Median time: 33 minutes
•Average time between sessions: 1 day, 5 hours, 18 minutes
•Median time between sessions: 1 day
So, my immediate reaction is: That’s a lot of masturbating.
But, you know, maybe not? The thing about sex, and especially solo sex, is that nobody really talks about it. It’s so hard to collect good, honest data, because people lie out of shame and pride, and because it’s hard to convince researchers that this is a subject worth studying. What’s left is an enormous blind spot, where we know our own sex lives intimately but have absolutely no way to put it in any kind of context.
My second reaction is: Yeah, but 150 minutes? That’s definitely a lot of masturbating.
This Redditor’s data is necessarily unreliable and unscientific, but it’s goddamned fascinating. He’s been tracking each session—(his sessions begin “when porn is in front of me. Getting hard is basically negligible for me, it probably only takes 30 seconds...I spend almost 100% of my time in these session physically wanking it.”)—and appending notes, including his motivation for masturbating and anything else that comes to mind.
You can read his field notes for the most recent year here. There is an awful lot of “boredom” cited as a motive, with the occasional “horny,” “procrasturbation,” and the even rarer “sex.” The notes are very informative, ranging from technical (“no lotion, my underwear actually stayed on”) to spiritual (“felt very clean”) to existential (“Ugh. Why did I go again”).
There’s also an FAQ, included on his most recent Reddit post, and you very much already had some of these questions in mind.
•Age: 21 years old
•One session means one orgasm. If I went back in immediately for a second go, I counted it as a separate session.
•My method this year changed mid-April when I got a smartwatch. Now I have a timer that makes things easier.
•All sessions are with porn and lotion unless specified in the Notes section of the spreadsheet.
•I do have a niche area of porn. I have never actually watched traditional porn in my life. Unfortunately, since a few close friends of mine do see this reddit post, I cannot reveal what that niche is. Sorry boys and girls.
•No, I am on no medication.
•I have not developed any elbow or arm problems. I use my right hand if anyone is wondering.
•I have broken the skin a few times in the past. Not so much anymore because I use lotion now. It is not fun trying to masturbate when your shaft has open, bleeding wounds.
•No, I do not subconsciously prolong my orgasm. Some people say that and I feel like they’re just trying to undermine all the work I’ve put in. I am as objective as possible, I promise. If you don’t wanna believe me, fine.
I do think there’s something valuable for everyone here, even if you personally don’t jack it (or jill it) more than once per day, like this guy.
Call it masturbation mindfulness, perhaps: An invitation to be open and observant about your self-pleasure, to note the sensations and emotions accompanying the act and its aftermath, to be fully present in those fleeting moments of true, intense intimacy. Know thyself. While beatin’ it.
Go play around with the data provided by “touchingforscience.” I promise it’s a satisfying rabbit hole.