There’s a strange pattern unfolding lately, one in which men are forcing women to watch them masturbate. The rapey accusations, they just keep rolling in.
Of course, it all started with Harvey Weinstein. One woman allegedly woke up to find him standing over her, jerking off. Another was trapped in a hallway while he masturbated in front of her, ejaculating into a nearby potted plant.
Not a few weeks later, the New York Times exposed a series of sexual assault allegations against Louis C.K. Several women there say that without their consent, the comic ripped off his pants and jerked off in front of them.
This type of abuse isn’t exclusive to show biz, though. Plenty of men want women to watch while they touch themselves. It’s only now, as society watches powerful men be destroyed by this sexual deviancy, that everyone is asking themselves, “Why?”
Thankfully, a number of sex therapists have committed their professional wisdom to explaining the psychology behind whacking it while horrified women watch.
First and foremost, there’s a clear power dynamic. As sex therapist Alexandra Katehakis tells Slate, when a man masturbates in front of a nonconsenting woman, “The fact that she’s scared and humiliated often makes him feel powerful and aroused.”
Says one anonymous source of ours who enjoys jerking it while a girl watches: “There’s something extremely hot about sending a message that says, ‘My sexual pleasure is more important than yours.’"
To him, this flipped script of, I get all of the sexual gratification and you get none, has an undeniable appeal.
Even with a consenting partner, however, there’s a cruelty to it. Of course, take out that essential component of consent, and the element of cruelty multiplies.
From the perspective of sex therapist Quandra Chaffers speaking to HuffPo, masturbating in front of unwilling women may involve no physical or verbal violation, but it’s still a form of violence.
Some predatory men might simply choose to masturbate in front of women, rather than physically assault them, because a more violent act might actually make them a rapist — and they don’t want to think of themselves that way. Sticking to jacking off is an attempt to minimize their offense — at least in their own minds.
“We only train men to think, ‘Well, I didn’t hold her down,’" Chaffers says. "Our ideas of violence are very narrow."
Of course, there are plenty of ways to violate women without touching them, like unsolicited dick pics, peeping toms, or flashing women on the subway.
Louis C.K. certainly never seemed to fear any repercussions. He might have even felt confident enough to make references to the crimes he committed in his material.
He made a career of exploring sexual urges linked to violence. In his HBO show titled Lucky Louie, his character is screwing his wife, and is surprised to discover that he gets off by thinking horribly hateful things about her. Mid-sex, his inner-dialogue whispers, “You fucking bitch."
In one of his standup specials, he talks about the desire to grab a woman's hair and force her to suck his dick.
Lots of men get off on things that are borderline non-consensual — violent enough to excite them, not rapey enough to be criminal. Louis C.K. is just the latest, most famous man to get caught.
Sexual assault, fundamentally, is not even about sex. It’s about control. Men forcing women to watch them masturbate is a way to implement that power.
Perhaps the only way to stop those abuses of power from happening again is to rip that power away. Looking at the shattered remains of Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K.’s careers, it seems we’re finally doing just that.