Adults who are most likely to masturbate, and most likely to masturbate more frequently than others, have several characteristics in common— indicating that even this private sexual behavior is strongly influenced by a person’s social group (Laumann et al., 1994). They have liberal views, are college educated, and are living with a sexual partner. White men and women masturbate more than African American men and women. Among White, African, and Hispanic Americans, Hispanic women have the lowest rate of masturbation.

Self-Pleasuring Techniques

In this section we offer descriptions of self-pleasuring techniques. Spe­cific techniques for masturbation vary. Males commonly grasp the penile shaft with one hand, as shown in I Figure 8.1. Some men prefer to use lotion; others like the natural friction of a dry hand. Up-and-down motions of differing pressures and tempos provide stimulation. A man can also stroke the glans and frenulum or caress or tug the scrotum. Or, rather than using his hands, a man can rub his penis against a mattress or pillow.

Women enjoy a variety of stimulation techniques. Typically, the hand provides circular, back-and-forth, or up-and-down movements against the mons and clitoral area (see I Figure 8.2). The glans of the clitoris is rarely stimulated directly, although it can be stimulated indirectly when covered by the hood. Some women thrust the clitoral area against an object such as bedding or a pillow. Others masturbate by pressing their thighs together and tensing the pelvic floor muscles that underlie the vulva. Some women insert their fingers or sex toys into their vaginas dur­ing masturbation, especially for G-spot stimulation. Dildos and vibrators that have a curve at the end are particularly good for G-spot stimulation (Blue, 2007).

Sex Toys

Some individuals also use vibrators and other sex toys for added enjoy­ment or variation in self-stimulation. Research has found that about 53% of women and 45% of men have used vibrators in solo or partnered sexual activities and that vibrator use among women and men is associated with positive sexual function (Herbenick et al., 2011a; Reece et al., 2009). Sex toy use appears to be more common among gay and bisexual men than among heterosexual men. Almost 79% of gay and bisexual-identified

The Context of Sexual Expression

Although the following sections include discussions of sexual techniques, a sexual interaction cannot stand on its own; it exists within the context of motivation and meanings of the individuals involved and the relationship as a whole (M. Cooper et al., 2011). One writer explained:

Sex can be motivated by excitement or boredom, physical need or affection, desire or duty, loneliness or complacency. It can be a bid for power or an egalitarian exchange, a purely mechanical release of tension or a highly emotional fusion, a way to wear oneself out for sleep or a way to revitalize oneself. Sex can be granted as a reward or inducement, an altruistic offering or a favor; it can also be an act of selfishness, insecurity, or narcis­sism. Sex can express almost anything and mean almost anything. (Fillion, 1996, p. 41)

■ Table 8.2 shows the top 15 out of 237 reasons college men and women gave for being sexual with a partner. Notably, 20 of the top 25 reasons were identical for men and women (Meston & Buss, 2007).

■ TABLE 8.2 Top 15 Reasons College Women and Men Give for Having Sex

Women

Men

1.

I was attracted to the person.

I was attracted to the person.

2.

I wanted to experience the physical pleasure.

It feels good.

3.

It feels good.

I wanted to experience the physical pleasure.

4.

I wanted to show my affection to the person.

It’s fun.

5.

I wanted to express my love for the person.

I wanted to show my affection to the person.

6.

I was sexually aroused and wanted the release.

I was sexually aroused and wanted the release.

7.

I was horny.

I was horny.

8.

It’s fun.

I wanted to express my love for the person.

9.

I realized I was in love.

I wanted to achieve an orgasm.

10.

I was "in the heat of the moment."

I wanted to please my partner.

11.

I wanted to please my partner.

The person’s physical appearance turned me on.

12.

I desired emotional closeness (i. e., intimacy).

I wanted the pure pleasure.

13.

I wanted the pure pleasure.

I was "in the heat of the moment"

14.

I wanted to achieve an orgasm.

I desired emotional closeness (i. e., intimacy).

15.

It’s exciting, adventurous.

It’s exciting, adventurous.