Discussion Thread: Masturbation, Euphemisms, Hidden Female Sexual Agency, and Other Fun Stuff

by Shaker EastSideKate

Some readers may recall that Liss recently broke the stunning news that John Edwards is a wanker. But enough about Mr. Edwards, I'm interested in wanking. Not just generally, but also strictly for reals linguistically. It was asserted in that thread that "wanker" was a gendered insult. I'm not that interested in building a strawwang here, so I'd like to point out that Liss, Deeky, Merriam and/or Webster already put forth that wankers (and wanking) are gender-neutral. Good for them. But I digress. I can find less reputable dictionaries written by uninformed Americans that say otherwise. And in the end, isn't that what really matters?

When we say a masturbational term is gender-neutral, it may be because the term has gender-neutral roots, or because it is a term that refers to one gender (e.g. guys) that people frequently expand to include references to folks outside of that gender.

I've always had the impression that there's a lot more talk about masturbation among men than among the rest of us, regardless of whether insult is implied, which may lead to a cultural perception that masturbation is a predominantly (or exclusively) male occupation. It may also result in a larger culturally understood vocabulary for male masturbation than for female masturbation. Both of these hypotheses may also explain why many of us perceive wanker as a gendered term.

The thing is, I can't think of a single euphemism that exclusively describes female masturbation.

My minimal research hasn't been of much use. I'm not the type of person to suggest that my partner pose such questions to women she meets at a gay bar. Regardless of what certain folks in the Psychology department at Northwestern think, this isn't a valid methodology for scientific research, so I'd never post the results here :cough: weird looks :cough:. A brief survey of fiction in our household yielded similarly tangential results. Maybe we should be reading Philip Roth. In any case, I thank the internets for turning smut into work. (If there are any academics out there that write off erotica on their tax returns, do let me know.)

To wrap up, academic jibberish, cultural erasure of female sexual agency and vague references to how testosterone and Darwin totally make for teh horny (for reals, in *totes objective science reality* ) explain all.

Here are a few questions for y'all to discuss: Are the terms that you frequently encounter for masturbation typically gender-specific? If so, which gender? What's the origin of these terms? Are they descriptive? Onomatopoeic?

Most comments that refrain from mentioning Inuit people and snow are encouraged at this point.

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