STEPHON JOHNSON: Chuck Klosterman once wrote in Sex, Drugs & Coco Puffs, that when pornography advertised “real amateur girls!” it helped men masturbate to the type of woman that they would normally ignore in real life. The premise is that men prefer the unattainable type of woman they see in Hollywood and in music videos.
That might not be the case any more.
The Daily Beast posted a story last week claiming there was a trend of men masturbating to pictures of women they actually know via Facebook. In the piece one unidentified man explained the appeal of the social networking site:
Another man, age 41, saw it in a slightly different light. He noted that he would love to stare at sexy women on the street, especially if they’re showing a lot of cleavage, but that he refrains out of respect. “But on Facebook,” he says, “you can stare as long as you want to—nobody’s going to get mad because it’s not them, it’s just a picture.”
He adds, noting that his interest goes beyond the platonic: “I can print out, bookmark and/or download the images I see on Facebook to look at again and again and again.”
While this revelation may cause a collective “Ew!” from every woman who reads it, the reality is that this shouldn’t be a surprise at all. Like it or not, even the most platonic male/female relationship has a little bit of flirting involved (if not from both parties, definitely from one) and many have thought, at least once, of what it would be like to have a night with one of their platonic female friends. This also comes into play with friends of the male’s significant other.
Facebook has provided something that only memory and imagination could provide before. Instead of memorizing an image of your close female friend, your girlfriend’s best friend or your ex-hook up that you wish you went all the way with, you can just pull up their Facebook profile and literally just stare at them and conjure up your own fantasy.
Look, I am not a woman, so I can’t exactly understand how the other half feels with this news. But there is one thing I know: guys will find a way to fantasize about the women they know whether said women like it or not. They probably fantasized about you before Facebook. Facebook just inadvertently gave them an easier avenue to look at the women they really want to see. Put it this way, at least they’re fantasizing about real women as oppose to those fake-looking, unrealistic types on television, in Maxim (do they still print issues) and in Hollywood.
JILLIAN LOVEJOY LOWERY: According to this report, Facebook is the new porn. Apparently, instead turning to actual pornography for masturbatory fodder, more and more men are taking matters into their own hands while perusing Facebook photos.
This should not be a shocking development.
There is absolutely something erotic about the mystery of people you know. The people with whom you interact on a regular basis, whether they’re your legitimate friends, friends of friends, or even someone less significant. The draw of being naked with someone you know — and are curious about — is strong, possibly even more thrilling than thinking about being in the same sordid situation with some kind of manufactured ideal. So, to that end, I absolutely understand how a seemingly innocent Facebook photo album can become the stuff that dreams are a made of.
As an avid Facebook user, the concept that someone, somewhere, might be masturbating to my photos was completely foreign to me, until about a year ago. I got a friend request from someone
relatively peripheral. Someone that I knew well enough to accept, but not actually well at all. And when I disclosed this friending to a mutual friend of ours, he said the following.
He said, “Well, you know that he’s jerking off to your pictures.”
I have no proof that he was. I certainly never want proof that he did. But once that was thrown out there as a possibility, I’ve never gotten it out of my head. And I’ve never looked at him quite the same.
You can be sure that I am now ultra conscious of the photographs that I post. And the ones that are maybe a little sexy? That’s intentional, too. There are times that I want to evoke particular moods, that I want to be some sort of internet siren that people pine after. The whole notion that Facebook masturbation is somehow creepy makes me chuckle a bit. After all, Facebook is a place where you define yourself, create your own identity and then update to to perpetuate that persona. As the admin of your own account, you are in control of what you put out there. If you want to project a certain image, it’s just silly to act surprised when people react accordingly.
Also, I bristle that Facebook masturbation is documented as a specifically male phenomenon. True, males are typically more visual creatures, but to act as if women don’t fantasize about their virtual male friends is just shortsighted. I refuse to believe that this movement is gender-specific.
Bottom line: Facebook makes people more accessible. Whether it connects long-lost friends, facilitates conversations via the chat function, or provides material for masturbation is almost irrelevant. Facebook serves multiple purposes. What you do with your account is your business. And, hey. If you get off on mine, good for both of us.