Wanking, as many of you may know, is Brit slang for masturbating – a verb that can also be used as an insult. In our teens, my friend would defend herself against the cruel boys by calling them wankers. “A bastard is tough and manly,” she’d explain, “but a wanker sounds weak.” She had a point. I once called an angry ex a wanker and almost got a sock in the eye.

Truth is, whether we’re wanking or tossing or beating the bishop, none of it sounds pretty. And the technical term is almost as bad. If I didn’t know better I’d assume masturbation was rather a boring activity, like unclogging a drain. How sad, considering the act itself can help us understand our sexual needs and even become more talented, imaginative lovers. Touching ourselves is nurturing – a form of self-love.

But as a term masturbation sucks. Like many long, depersonalized words it has its roots in Latin. Historically, this was the language of posh intellectuals, whereas your everyday Anglo Saxon (bless him) brought us tit, prick, arse etc. As an author of erotic fiction, I steer away from the technical term, favoring the more sensual touched herself. In a discussion, however, I tend to use solo-sex because I believe masturbation is indeed a type of sex; and maybe when we actually view it that way, the pride can’t help but spread.

Of course, the fact that terms like wanker and tosser double as insults speaks to how little our society respects solo-sex. When was the last time you heard someone walk into a bar and brag, “I had sex with myself last night and woah, was it hot!”? Which reminds me, when Woody Allen jokes that masturbation is “sex with someone you love,” the reason it’s funny is because loving ourselves sexually is so often seen as perverse. And yet notice how peaceful a climax can make us feel. Imagine a world where we all took care of our sexual selves – might there be less aggression? But that’s a topic for a later discussion.

Right. So here’s my 10 point, language-driven plan for encouraging folks to love themselves and promote self-pleasure:

1. Come up with sexier verbs for solo-sex. Like russing, perhaps. Heaven knows why that popped into my head: maybe I’m marrying the sibilance of pussy with the animal glory of rutting? “Last night, I was russing, and damn was it good.” That sort of thing. But better.

2. Make female self-touch sound as hot as possible – terms that suggest you have a vagina seem to be rare, which perhaps speaks to our society’s repression.  In Britain, we have jillying. I believe it comes from Jilly Cooper, a famous Brit writer of hot novels.  God love her and all that, but who wants to jilly? Holy heck.

3. Start counting solo-sex as a type of sex. Note: If we all did this, any of those social networking surveys that say, “People who use such-and-such-a-product get more action,” would be scoffed at, and rightly so.

4. Try dropping solo-sex into a conversation in a cool, thoughtful manner. e.g. “Yes, I own a pair of gorgeous leather handcuffs. But sometimes, dammit, I only need the one.”

5. Buy products from sex shops, such as vibrators, lube, body paint, and use them ourselves. I recently went shopping with a group of trusted friends, and it was great fun. There’s something sweet about your pal spotting a certain kind of vibrator and saying, quite thoughtfully, “This wouldn’t work for me, but it would be perfect for you.”

6. Support a great cause that articulates the importance of solo-sex, such as podcasts like In Bed, With Susie Bright or activism sites like Our Porn Ourselves.

7. Foster vivid fantasies in which solo-sex plays a titillating role. In Donna George Storey’s “The Big O” for instance, a woman learns to control her muscles through solo-sex with delicious results. You can find “The Big O” in Orgasmic: Erotica for Women, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. If porn is more your thing, check out Violet Blue who is THE expert on sex and the web.

8. If you’re single or have recently come out of a relationship, and someone asks whether you’re sleeping with anyone yet, reply, “Well yes, actually. I’m sleeping with myself and loving every moment.”

9. Question folks when they call us wankers. What exactly are they saying? Most of us are wankers. Aren’t they?

10. Refuse to be silenced about the benefits of solo-sex. For more information, including statistics, check out the recent National Survey of Sex and Behavior from Indiana University.

The photo on the Main Page & Archives Page is by Flickr photographer TheAlieness GiselaGiardino.

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LANA FOX became a sex writer when she realized she couldn't shut up about the subject. Her erotic stories appear in collections by Harlequin, Cleis Press and Xcite, including Best Women's Erotica 2011. A graduate in Psychology, English and Education, she is a regular featured blogger at the Good Vibrations magazine. Lana is also at work on a novel. Find her online at: www.lanafox.com.

18 responses to “The Hot Topic, vol. 2 – Touching Ourselves: A Word About Masturbation”

  1. What a wonderful person you are for posting this! Bravo!

  2. Lana Fox says:

    Thank you, Jessica! How very lovely of you. And what a wonderful person you are for cheering me on!

  3. New Orleans Lady says:

    I’m going juts to put it out there, I love myself.
    I love myself as much possible.

    Nothing wrong with self love.
    It’s probably why I’m such a firecracker in the sack. I know what works and what doesn’t and I don’t mind giving a lesson when it’s needed.

    just sayin’.

    great post!

    • Lana Fox says:

      Now that’s beautiful. I love myself too, whenever I can. And yes, I’ll bet you are firecracker in the sack! With such wisdom, patience, knowledge and passion, how could you not be? Thanks for singing it, New Orleans Lady. So glad you enjoyed the read.

  4. I’ve always been a big fan of the word “wank.” It was definitely a common word where I went to school, as was the rhyming slang, to have a “jimmy shank.” We also used the phrase “frap” for female masturbation. I’m not sure where exactly that came from… probably it was on TV at some point.

    You’re right, though. None of the usual sound particularly sexy. To touch oneself is much prettier.

    • Lana Fox says:

      Have a “jimmy shank”? Now that’s priceless! Frapping sounds rather like drinking a coffee-flavored beverage, but I think it’s far better than frigging. I definitely prefer to touch myself, but when in the right mood I might frap…it’s possible…

      • I’ve certainly heard people talk about “having a frappuccino.” I’ve no idea what that poor beverage did to become a euphemism for having a jimmy shank. Oh yes, I remember “frigging.” That was another popular phrase in high school. “Diddle” was another classic, but always sounded way too non-sexual.

        I was always a fan of “jilling off” as a female alternative to “jacking.”

        • Lana Fox says:

          Oh, “jilling” as an alternative to “jacking”? That’s fascinating – far better than frigging, that’s for sure. There’s something bananas about using a nursery rhyme, though. “Diddling” is one I’ve never liked – as you say, so non-sexual.

  5. Alana says:


    First of all, thank you. When you put it this way, I have an extraoridinary sex life, splendid! Me, myself, and a vibrator I call “Sam.” I love Sam. I love myself. I love “russing.” Jesus. I’m in love with it. Very much into “russing.” Did I say thank you? Wonderful, sex positive, self positive message.

    You’re the best!


  6. Lana Fox says:

    Alana, your comment is so delightful I don’t know where to put myself! Thank you. You are, as always, a true diamond – and one who inspires me very much. And you like “russing”? Hurrah! Send Sam my love. Up to now my vibrator has had no name, but I’m thinking Russ is very appropriate… 😉

  7. jmblaine says:

    Indeed, TNB
    has needed this sort of
    service (um, feature?)
    for some time now.

    Where’s Lenore?
    Her Dust comment
    per sex & fantasy
    was incredible the other

  8. Lana Fox says:

    Happy to, um, serve. And yeah, Lenore is clearly brilliant! Just looked up her fantastic comment. Marvelous!

  9. Reno j. Romero says:


    Good stuff. This country (which is perverted from coast to coast) still is a bit, uh, stiff when topics like this come up. Just typical pretentious U.S.A shit. I use the word “handle.” I use ir for both poking with another person as well as self-love.

    “Last night I handled her. Yeah, she screamed out my brother’s name but I don’t give a shit.”

    “Well, I was bored to tears. What the hell was I supposed to do? I had to handle myself. Had to.”

    I think you get the idea.

    Thanks, Lana. Can’t wait to read the next column.


  10. Lana Fox says:

    Reno, good call, I really like “handle” – it does what it says. By the way, the UK is also very stiff (or perhaps not stiff enough!) about sex. Thank goodness there are people like us in the world to shake the crap out of it!

    Sex is wonderful. Done and done.

    And thank you! I’m proud to be here at TNB.

    Russing also,

  11. I used to call it whacking the weenie before I learned this is what the mafia did to hot dog vendors in New York City who owed gambling debts.

  12. Lana Fox says:

    That is too funny. Snort.

  13. Gloria says:

    I recently went through an intentional period of not having sex with others. I described myself as monosexual. 😀

    #4 is brilliant and made me laugh. Kudos. As a matter of fact, Kudos to this whole conversation.

    My sister makes decent money selling sex toys through Pureromance at hosted parties. Basically, she finds someone who’s interested in hosting a party. That person then invites all of her friends. My sister shows up with her bag of tricks and spends a couple of hours peddling her wares. This is a great way for women who are interested in purchasing accouterments for solo-sex but are fairly shy about going and purchasing them at a store to make their purchases. I mean, obviously there are other items available, which are meant to be used with a partner. But still – I think this type of thing is extremely sex-positive and I love that we live in an age (in America anyway) where this is possible. Women supporting women. Women being comfortable buying a vibrator. Love it.

    Thank you, Lana, for this article and for writing for TNB. I love what you’re doing.

  14. Lana Fox says:

    Monosexual is fantastic and I will now use it with pride!

    Gloria, thanks so much for your wonderful encouragement, and, of course for telling us about your sister. I utterly agree. What a great gig! Your sister is sharing the good vibes (in both senses of the term!) and must feel great about it. In fact, when I review sex toys I get a little of the same glow. It’s so important that we feel excited about solo-sex rather than ashamed, and yes, our society is becoming more and more sex-positive, which is inspiring. Many of us have been told, at some point, that we shouldn’t touch ourselves, so when I see someone like your sister going around spreading the love, it gives me a real glow.

    Pureromance look fantastic. And I’m glad number 4 gave you a giggle!

    Thank you, Gloria, for sharing this and being such a star.

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