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Where Did the Trope of Men Jerking Off Into Gym Socks Come From?

You might think a sock goes hand in hand with jerking off, but not everyone agrees

It’s with reserved bewilderment that many moms of teenage boys will take to the internet and discover the breadth of household objects their sons will potentially masturbate into: Garbage cans, fruit, or as highlighted in Bridesmaids, all over their own blankets. But as young men age and settle into a masturbatory routine, so too do they grow out of the just-come-on-the-closest-thing-available stage. It’s at this point that many men discover the “second” utility of socks.

In similar fashion to chancing upon the pleasures of lube, the locked-door security of a long shower or the novelty of sitting on your hand until it falls asleep, it’s during the early, exhaustive trial sessions of masturtbation that most young men discover socks as the great masturbatorial catch-all. After all, in teen boys’ comprehensive search for things to stick their dick in, a sock checks a lot of dick-shaped boxes.

But since younger boys aren’t sitting around the locker room discussing whether they find conditioner to be a heartier lube than the more water-based shampoo, it becomes another one of those unspoken approaches to masturbation that every boy discovers on his own. It’s never been set in stone as a shared experience — until fairly recently, at least.

According to Lauren Rosewarne, author of Masturbation in Pop Culture: Screen, Society, Self, the first instances of socks and jerking off appearing in mainstream entertainment was in the 1999 Nerf Herder song, “Doin’ Laundry.” It appeared again later that year in this infamous scene from American Pie:

Now, it’s worth noting that this scene — the one that finally cemented (possibly literally) the idea of jizzing in socks into the public consciousness — may have perpetuated the wrong use of the masturbatorial sock. In the clip above, Jason Biggs’ Jim Levenstein is wearing the sock as he begins masturbating, but unless you’re into massive rugburn, this isn’t how most men employ socks: The correct usage is to simply have the sock within reach as you’re dancing with the one-eyed sailor, then quickly capping the open end of the sock over the open end of your dick at the last second (blammo — the perfect crime). Presumably, it was just the director taking creative liberties to avoid nudity while emphasizing the embarrassment of the scene.

Outside of American Pie, Rosewarne adds, “Use of socks for masturbatory purposes occurs in episodes of Weeds (2005–2012), where Shane had been flushing them and blocking the plumbing, and in Misfits (2009–) where it’s referred to as the ‘wank sock’.” With all these references — and especially with a movie as pervasive as American Pie was for teen boys — it’s no wonder that using a sock to masturbate immediately entered mainstream masturbatorial lore.

Using socks for this purpose must surely have happened before 1999, though. After all, cheap, mass-produced socks as we know them today first appeared during the Industrial Revolution, so we can only assume that at some point in history, a young lad stuck his dick in a sock and another revolution was born.

These days, the stocking jizz-mitt is everywhere. Take SoloSoxxx, for example, a website dedicated to selling single socks to sock-masturbators. Creators Caitlin Hickey and Joel Robert Johnson have based an entire business on the experience: “[Using socks] was actually something we joked about during a very late night convo,” they tell me. “It was definitely more of a youthful ‘hide it from your mom’ type activity, but thankfully, everyone we asked either confirmed they participated in or knew of the practice.”

It goes without saying that the internet, humanity’s carnival of unspoken shared experiences, is ripe with people discussing the topic. We’ve got people arguing about the pros and cons of masturbating into socks; people describing the various horror stories that can go along with sock usage; and even people making instructional videos that were almost certainly filmed inside a serial killer’s basement:

According to the subreddit AskMen, men who use socks do so for multiple reasons. Obviously, it’s primarily for easy cleanup: “A sock keeps my spray from going everywhere,” says Reddit user and self-described “sock guy” southseattle77. “For guys with more than a dribbling volume of ejaculate, it keeps the mess down.” Not only does it prevent ejaculate from landing on the bed, the wall or your face, they insist it also provides an easy wipe-up for the straggling leakage.

But more than that, many men see socks as the cheap, environmentally friendly way to go — the mastabatorial equivalent of choosing cloth diapers over disposables. A tree in the rainforest doesn’t live its entire life to be your cumrag, after all, and it’s not like you don’t have plenty of already-stained old socks just sitting there unused.

Still, there stands a divide. “Adults,” argue non-sock users, should have better hygiene than jerking off into a sock and leaving a mass grave of stiff socks stuck to the bedroom floor. Even after washing, they opine, wearing the same socks again is gross (although not washing the sock and sticking your dick in it repeatedly is even worse). For these men, it’s better to just use sterile, disposable tissues, no matter how many forests have to die at their dick’s expense.

So just as there’s dry guys and lube guys, streamers and dreamers, there’s also sock guys and non-sock guys. We can choose to see this as yet another division between us, or we can be humbled by the simple human fact that, hey, we all jerk off, one way or another. Some of us jerk off into socks; some of us jerk off into tissues. And some of us jerk off into toilets. Or garbage cans. Or T-shirts. Or laundry piles. Or plants. Let’s be honest, we’ll jerk off into anything.

With that in mind, 99 times out of 100, the sock seems like the least offensive way to go.