SO! Masturbation. That's a thing. And if you've put your hands over your eyes and ears and are singing LA LA LA NOT LISTENING LA LA LA at the very idea of someone touching their genitals for pleasure, then it's probably a good idea if you leave now and never look at anything again. Classic Disney movies? The animators were all serial masturbaters. Just letting you know. Everything you love has been created by people who've loved themselves, FYI.
However, there's still a collective silence about female masturbation, unless you're like me and live on Jezebel and Though Catalog where all the girls don't give a fuck and will happily talk about their sexual proclivities the way men have been doing since stand-up comedy was invented. And that's awesome! We need more people like that! I strive to be one of them! But some people reading this blog know me in real life (hey girl, hey) and I'm assuming they don't want that mental image. So, instead, I'm going to talk about something a bit more general... the words.
All words to do with masturbation are fairly specifically gendered to the male act of yanking/slapping/whatever else they do to their dick. Or maybe they've just gained gendered associations due to the whole encompassing silence about female masturbation. (Did you know movies with female masturbation in get higher age ratings than movies with male masturbation? Isn't that fucked?)
This is what wikisaurus has for male masturbation synonyms:
This is what we talk about when we talk about how we talk about masturbation.
This word is an oldie. It's been around since the 1700s, and even earlier as "masturpation", and is pretty much directly from Latin manus (hand) and stuprare (defile). Though the multisyllabic nature of it is quite nice to drop into every day conversation, in the same way it's fun to say "fornication" rather than "fuck", it's a word that always strikes me as clumsy. It's hard to get your mouth around the clunky syllables. Mass-tur-bay-shun. You get Catholic guilt and fishing hooks. This is the word that you find in medical textbooks, and it's too dispassionate for an action which normally ends in technicolour climax (or sobbing into your pillow, whatever).
The biggest point in its favour is that it's truly gender-neutral. Jiz Lee masturbates, and they fall outside the gender binary! So girls can definitely masturbate, even if The Patriarchy thinks we can't. Next, please.
It's a word that's been around since the 1940s but of unknown etymological origin. It's British - of course it is; we're so repressed we just spend or whole time with our hands down our pants because it's too hard to persuade anyone else to put them there. Wanking is the Pot Noodle of masturbation synonyms, cheap and ubiquitous. It's my go-to word for masturbating. I like the way it sounds, the hard and slightly comic "k". People who use wanking as a word for all autonomous shenanigans though are probably the people who universally call sex "screwing" and breasts "boobies".
The problem is that, if I said "I wanked last night", it still conjures images of pulling a penis (maybe because of its similarity to "yanking"). I'd probably be asked if I meant to say "I wanked someone off". I am totally down with trying to claim it for the ladies, but it definitely feels like trying to steal a word from a hostile environment. A lexicographical Capture The Flag mission.
Possibly from the Norweigan tossa, the word has been around since the 1500s, and has been recorded as specifically applying to self-sexytimes from 1977... as an insult. Sidenote - isn't it weird how "wanker" and "tosser" evolved as insults? They're not! They're just accurate descriptions! It's like trying to insult me by calling me a "blogger" - it's just what you do in your spare time! Slang is weird. Tossing, to me, sounds faintly Biblical: and so he lay alone and his room; and he tossed, until quite suddenly the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he was scared; and the Lord told him to find a woman to lay with, and he vowed never to toss again.
Yeah, I've now managed to put myself off ever using the word "toss" again. Good work, me.
Have you guys ever read Questionable Content? Because there's a porn-loving robot in that called Pintsize, and I'm pretty sure "fap" is his masturbatory word of choice. There doesn't appear to be any good source for this; in the same way as "nom" and "derp" seemed to spawn spontaneously from the depths of the interwebz, so too did fap. It might be a pseudo-onomatopoeic word intended to resemble the noise which male masturbation makes? I don't know, I'm not an expert on this. It doesn't sound terribly pleasant though - like there's a lot of friction involved.
I think girls can fap. It's not how you'd describe your own antics - it's more how you'd call out someone else, like "God, Rachel, stop fapping, we need to leave now or we'll miss the train!" - but it's such a new word that it's yet to deeply entrench itself in the collective social consciousness.
Again, I can't find any etymology for this at all, but I'm assuming it comes from the motion of male masturbation, i.e. its similarity to jacking up a car or something. My biggest issue, of course, is with the fact that it's "jack"ing. It's a dude's name. Jack-the-lad, Jack-be-nimble, Jack of Hearts. Jack Spratt and Jack Frost and Jack and his phallic fucking beanstalk. It's just such a DUDE thing, you know? I mean, I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone use it in every day conversation outside of American television shows, but that's probably because I'm on the wrong side of the ocean.
There is a very easy solution to this one, though: if boys Jack, girls Jill. We might both go up hill, but while Jack breaks his crown, we come tumbling after.