When Jeffrey Toobin was caught masturbating during a work Zoom meeting, folks had a lot of questions, the first being WTF, man? Some people were appalled that a person would pleasure themselves during work. Others were shocked that he could be so fucking stupid to not know his camera and microphone were still on.
Nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to cisgender men and the entitlement they carry with their penises. It’s disgusting that they are incapable of waiting for anything, including the desire to touch themselves or for someone else to watch or do it for them—looking at you Weinstein, Epstein, Lauer, O’Reilly … the list could go on and on, but those are just a few high profile cases of men who deny rape culture while perpetuating it and cling to myths about their primal “need” for sex. While Toobin was just another notable name to point a finger at when it comes to sexual misconduct in the workplace, the reality is that he is just one of millions of men who jerk off at work each day. And the numbers are rising.
Before the pandemic started, roughly 39% of people masturbated at work, most of them being men. This tracks with the fact that 70% of internet porn is consumed during the work day. In 2016, PornHub reported that people’s favorite time to watch porn was between 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., and peaked around 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. Now that folks have more access to privacy (wait, aren’t kids around more these days because of the pandemic? I can barely poop without being interrupted), studies show that 35% of men and 17% of women get their rocks off while working from home. Not that working in an office ever presented much of a road block for beating off during the work day.
Gunner Taylor, Director of Strategic Development for FriendFinder Networks tells Scary Mommy, “Working from home enables workers to use their home networks instead of office networks where the firewalls might typically block adult sites – giving a sense of freedom to access NSFW content during the workday.”
The numbers support this, too. One of FriendFinder Networks sites is Cams.com, a leading adult webcam company which has a large roster of camera models and more than 100 million casual users. According to Taylor, their site use increased by 13% between May and October 2020. People are feeling pandemic fatigue and are clearly using “procrasturbation” as a way to deal, especially during the hours of 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. During that time between March and September, user use was up 18% compared to the six month period before.
And is anyone surprised? The sex-toy industry has also seen an uptick in sales since the pandemic started. Whether people are bored, missing their long distance partner, can’t get out for random hookups, or are looking for new ways to self-soothe, the 30-100% increase in sex-toy sales means people are going after the big O in big numbers. This makes a ton of sense, because orgasms are fun and reduce stress. COVID, the election, and now a slide into seasonal depression have some of us reaching into our pants to relieve some of that tension and to flood our bodies with feel-good chemicals. And since many of us are working from home, we have more time on our hands to use those hands to play with our junk. Taylor says, “Users are finding more free personal time than ever, since they aren’t commuting as much or taking short breaks for water cooler chats during the day.”
A lot of people are lonely. Social distancing has kept people apart, and even if romantic touch wasn’t part of the relationship, people are missing hugs, high fives, and pats on the back. Touch releases oxytocin, which is known as the cuddle hormone. It also lowers cortisol levels and boosts mood while improving cognitive function. Porn and masturbation are ways to find some connection with others and ourselves. Taylor says that the pandemic hasn’t just given people more time and motivation to touch themselves during work hours, but that they have noticed many users exploring more kinks and fetishes since the beginning of quarantine. “Our data shows that 75% of female users in Maine specifically have expressed interest in handcuffing and shackle play.”
Again, nothing surprises me. 42 billion people visited PornHub in 2019, and the second most searched words were “alien porn.” Handcuffing seems mild.
Before COVID, 52% of men ages 18-30 admitted to watching porn at work, while 74% of men ages 31-49 admitted to the same act. Among the 52% of people (men and women combined) who say they masturbate while working from home, only a quarter said they felt bad about it. Should they? As long as you’re still getting your work done, is there anything wrong in rubbing one out? There is a time and place for everything, except consent; consent is a must at all times. Unless you know someone could hear or see you and they don’t want to hear or see you come, then have at it.
Taking a self-care break when no one is around is one thing, however, even while at home, folks need to keep their hands out of their pants while on a work call—whether that’s phone or video. Have a little self-control, people. And when I say people, I mean cisgender men. I enjoy masturbating and watching porn as much as anyone else, but I have never cued up a box munching video while deep diving into my own vagina during a team meeting. Get your shit together, guys.