In last summer’s comedy Trainwreck, Amy Schumer plays a feature writer at a men’s magazine who is forced to listen to the listicle-driven idea pitches of her male peers. Her boss, a heavily spray-tanned Tilda Swinton, looks on with boredom, until Tilda comes up with a new angle for one pitch idea: The Best Places to Get Caught Masturbating at Work.
It’s hard to imagine which locales would populate such a listicle (the snack hutch? the meditation room?), but increasingly, masturbating at work seems to be on people’s minds. Consider Anomalisa, Charlie Kaufman’s new animated film, where one scene shows a nameless cubicle worker in Cincinnati stop-motion jerking it at his desk. Or Virginia’s head of the Office of the Inspector General, who lost his job last year after repeatedly masturbating at work.
Despite the risk, (not necessarily scientific) surveys by Glamour and TimeOut have shown that between 30 and 40 percent of men jerk at work. According to PornHub’s year-in-review stats for 2015, there’s a definite spike in traffic around 4 p.m. on weekdays. “The peak in the afternoon indicates that people are likely logging on at work,” says psychologist Laurie Betito who was invited by PornHub to review their year-end user data. “[Maybe 4 p.m. is] when they want to rest their brains perhaps and look for distractions?” Betito suggests.
There’s not a lot of hard data on the subject. Most studies on masturbation focus on frequency, guilt and shame, or abstention, far more than location.
To get a clearer picture of this emergent trend, I rallied a group of dudes to further explore the subject of a workplace wank. Most of them were shockingly well-versed in the subject.
Welder / Student
Do I masturbate at work? No, never. I look down on the entire concept. There’s something about getting paid to be there that changes the equation for me. Now, if I’m stepping out of class for a quick jerk… At college, I’m paying them, so I’ll have a wank if I like. For that, I hit up a bathroom stall. I’ll begin with my feet facing the proper direction, and then, I only turn around in the stall once I’m finished. Wipe, flush, done.
City Government Administrator
I’ll jerk at work once or twice a week. I like to pick a stall in the public bathroom. Usually, there aren’t a lot of people around. But sometimes I have to wait for neighbors to leave. And thank god for Tumblr! Porn-on-demand when you really need it.
I was just talking about this with a friend of mine. I told him I thought about it from time-to-time. But I’d probably feel a ton of shame about it. And knowing that people take shits in the bathroom makes me feel grossed out. So no, I’ve never done it at work.
Regional Office Manager
I really don’t like to jerk it at work. I have, however, in the past, done it at the office. My thing was always to wait for everyone to leave. And then, I go bang it out in the bathroom. It seemed easy to make it happen. One time, though, the janitor in my building walked in on me mid-stroke; luckily, she didn’t see exactly what was happening. Well, I’m pretty sure she didn’t totally see what I was doing. Another time, my boss returned to work while I was in the restroom for an extended period. After he couldn’t find me, someone must’ve said where I was because he waited outside the door to make sure I was okay. When I came out, he looked worried and said he heard what he thought was “excessive noise” coming from the bathroom. To this day, I don’t know what he meant by that. Now that I’m older and wiser, I find that it’s much safer to just hold off for home, that is, when and if I feel that urge.
Well, I once jerked it at work three times in one day. But that’s not the norm; I was just super horny that day. Also, I was kind of over my job, so I felt fine masturbating at work. My attitude was “Fuck it, I’m horny.” Another time I jerked it at work when it was way late, after-hours, and I was stressed and horny. I find it to be a great stress reliever, especially in the late afternoon post-lunch slump. When, and if, I masturbate at work, I feel a little like I’ve broken a rule, but, overall, I feel no guilt. Also, once when I was at work during a weekend and no one else but me was there, I did it over the sinks of the bathroom, in front of the mirror. That was LOL. It felt so illicit and dangerous. Although, there were moments when my hormones ebbed, and I looked objectively at myself in the mirror and I was like “You’re an idiot.”
Writer / Comedian
I have a bit in my act about masturbating in public places, like, when I masturbated during chemo. Yes, I used to masturbate at the chemo center. That’s kinda like work, no? I’d use the private bathroom, usually, but it depended on whether or not it was free. I’d go in there to jerk-off while I was still connected to my IV drip. Masturbation was a perfect distraction. Honestly, it was way less about it being sexy, it was more about me just feeling normal in an abnormal place.
Zaron Burnett III is an American writer, who lives in Los Angeles. Find him on Twitter: @Zaron3.