Through the date-night anxieties of New Year’s Eve, “engagement season” and Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is looking for “the one”—or maybe they’ve already found it much closer to home. For masturbation enthusiasts, it can also be a time to celebrate a topic that’s too often kept hidden. Earlier this month, Nicholas Tana’s documentary “Sticky: A (Self) Love Story” shed light on how masturbation’s been treated largely as taboo by our culture. Now, self-love is getting another powerful advocate with the publication of Jason Armstrong’s memoir/manifesto, “Solosexual: Portrait of a Masturbator.”
In the book, the 40-year-old Toronto-based pseudonymous author, who’s blogged about his sex life since 2012 at Hunting for Sex: Cautionary Tales from the Quest, explores the roots of his love of masturbation, the profound effect masturbation has had on his life, what it’s like to masturbate with other men, and his dual coming out processes (as gay and as a masturbator). For Armstrong, masturbation is a core part of his identity, and is so meaningful to him he even does it online at the decidedly NSFW Xtube.com.
Armstrong makes the case for treating solosexuality with as much seriousness as we treat any other sexual orientation, and writes about “bating” with reverence, calling it “a way of life and the conduit through which you connect to you inner divinity and your inner pig” and stating that “The first cataclysmic crotch grab is the equivalent of a bong hit. The effect is instantaneous.” Here, he reveals what “bate fuel” is, why he’s posted his own masturbation videos online, and why the online world of “bators” might be less prejudiced than the gay ma...
How long have you identified as a solosexual?
I had not even heard of the term “solosexual” until about three years ago when a friend sent me a link to BateWorld.com, a site devoted to all things regarding male masturbation. I had fallen into the trap of thinking that masturbation was a poor substitute for “real sex,” but on BateWorld, I discovered a community of men who saw masturbation as the best sex of their lives. I saw this and it reflected my true sexuality and from there on in, I began to identify as solosexual. This is not to say that I don’t have partnered penetrative sex; I still do, and I certainly love to masturbate with others. But I am so content to be alone at home, masturbating my little heart out, free to be as uninhibited and exploratory with myself as I want to be.
How often do you masturbate, and what factors go into deciding how often you will?
I masturbate every night after work and on weekends, as much as time allows. However, I’m also very busy with life. I have friends and family that I love, and I love this writing life I’ve created. But I won’t lie: I make lots of me-time. A masturbation session should ideally last a minimum of three hours or I won’t even bother. It’s a journey that I go on with myself, both transcendent but also celebrating the grit and grime of a horny man. It’s a trip that no travel agent can compete with for pure thrills of both the carnal and spiritual kind, all through the power of the penis.
Is there such a thing as a good vs. bad bate session for you?
My impression is that the longer the session, the better it is. A bate sesh is always unique. That is why it never gets old. I like to have at least three hours to fully enter the zone, that place where your body and spirit are so connected that you feel like you’re flying. The things that get a man there are called “bate fuel.” Bate fuel comes in many forms. It may be chatting online or camming with another bator. It may be through watching porn. It may be through watching yourself masturbate in the mirror, you yourself becoming your own porn. And all this takes time.
You don't just masturbate in private, but for the world to see on Xtube. How is masturbation connected to exhibition for you?
Masturbation is no longer necessarily the lonely endeavor it might have once been. Masturbators love to share their bate experience. But I grappled long and hard with whether I had the balls to post those videos of me masturbating onto Xtube. But if I wanted to write about dismantling shame around sexuality, I felt I needed to put my money where my mouth was. In the song “Justify My Love,” Madonna sings a line that goes “Poor is the man whose pleasures depend on the permission of another.” If I felt too ashamed to reveal my own, how could I expect anyone else to?
Masturbation has helped you find a community of fellow bators, and even a bate mentor. That struck me as ironic, that something we consider so individual is actually a point of connecting with other people. How has masturbation helped foster community in your life?
Masturbation would seem to be the domain of the solosexual, a seemingly solitary figure. But the heightened masturbatory experiences that men have achieved as solosexuals are largely possible because of the strange combination of privacy and social interaction that the Internet permits. It’s hard to imagine men masturbating daily for three, four or five hours at a stretch without online porn, cam or chat to fuel their descent in what we might call the batehole, that place where you completely lose yourself to the experience and broach another consciousness.
There is also something really unique about the community of bators that has formed. On other dating sites, where a man might be trying to get into another man’s pants, there is a competitive element to it, a cat-and-mouse game. But on a site like BateWorld, where each man is just trying to get you to get into your own pants, a camaraderie develops.
In the book, you contrast your process of coming out as gay, where people understand and accept you, versus the challenges of coming out as solosexual. Can you elaborate on why it's harder to come out as solosexual?
Coming out as a gay man 20 years ago was relatively easy because the culture was already familiar with homosexuality: Oprah was talking about it! But solosexuality is still a rather new term in the sexual vernacular. Even harder is coming out as a sexual being. It might be okay to be gay, but heaven forbid we should openly discuss what we do in the bedroom. I see sexuality as this huge gift that need not be hidden under a bushel, but celebrated. Where there is silence, there is shame. I’m not suggesting we go out and start fucking in the streets, but simply that we can have a discourse about sexuality that affirms us. This is my utopia.
You suggest in the book that the online world of masturbation is more inclusive than the gay male dating world, writing, "I have yet to see a profile on BateWorld like I've seen on numerous hook-up sites where the writer proclaims haughtily 'No fats or fems' or 'No Asians.'" Why do you think that is?
BateWorld is unique in that it caters to all men, regardless of sexual orientation. The site is a place where men celebrate their sexuality, their manhood, their cocks, regardless of who you are, your orientation, your skin color, your weight. We are a brotherhood of men who simply want to celebrate being horny guys with dicks. Other sites are about getting laid, full stop. Men on BateWorld may indeed hook up, but first and foremost is celebrating manhood.
At one point, you write that masturbation can be an art form. What does that mean?
I think for many men, a quick wank in the shower before work is all they need. But for true Bators with a capital B, we will take time to set the scene: get the lighting in the room just right, turn on some music to get you in the mood, open up BateWorld and see if there are messages in the inbox, open up a porn site or three. If you’re like me, you’ll pour yourself a drink, adjust the full-length mirror into which you are going to defile yourself in the most horny of ways. Some men create shrines to the phallus, dildos and pictures of the cock that they will orgasm onto. For us, a quick wank in the shower just won’t do.
February brings us Valentine's Day; the idea that we should all want to be in a couple is omnipresent. Is this an especially challenging time to be solosexual?
Absolutely, yes. Every Hollywood romantic comedy is going to tell us that being coupled is the only answer. The idea of being your own lover would never pass for many. There is also the opposite issue at play: There are men who are likely solosexual and don’t quite understand it, as I didn’t at one time, and are in relationships that aren’t working. Their partners may feel the man pulling away into a world of masturbation and are left hurt, which hurts the man too. Like gay men who marry women out of societal pressure, there are solosexuals in relationships due to the same pressures.