Wages for masturbation? Burning questions of our movement

Owen Jones, ageless boy wonder of the British Left, has apparently upset some of his more matronly fans. Seems he wasn’t sufficiently scandalized by revelations that Labour MP Simon Danczuk from Rochdale beats off at work. “Who cares?” asked Jones in The Guardian, as if shrugging his shoulders. “Danczuk is a human being with flaws. For me, it’s the political flaws that matter.”

Socialist Wanker

Not everyone is taking this matter so lightly, of course, as our preceding remarks suggest. EP from the matfem (maternal feminist, not materialist feminist) blog All Mothers Work scolds Jones for laughing this off:

Too many men, like Owen Jones, seem to think that men have a right to do whatever they want sexually, at any time, in any situation. His attitude throughout his piece is tiresomely familiar; a pathetically schoolboyish sneer at deluded prudes who clutch their pearls at the thought of a bit of wanking. Let’s cut the bullshit: anybody who thinks it is acceptable to masturbate at work is not fit to be in decent society and needs therapeutic help.

What might such sentiments mean for the international proletariat, however? Can the toiling masses not demand “the right to jerk”? Need we remind you that Marx’s Das Fapital is the Bible of the wanking class? Didn’t Lukács write something about the simultaneous autoerotic subject-object of History?

Luckily, the good folks over at Left Unity in Britain were pondering these questions just the other day. Comrade Coates mentioned it in passing in a post entitled “Wanking while you work: Debate shakes Left Unity, but we have the whole unexpurgated version for you here to enjoy. It’s a bit long, so we’ll break it up and intersperse commentary throughout.

Left Unity right to masturbate at work thread, part 1


Bet you hadn’t considered the dilemma faced by “professional sperm donors.” Personally, I would have never thought of that. The commenter Colin Chambers is right to bring up the decision in Brazil, though. It’s very relevant.

According to the popular mental health magazine Uncovered, a Brazilian woman recently won a landmark case. Charlotte Fantanelli reports that the court found in favor of Ana Catarian Bezerra, a 36-year-old accountant suffering from a severe chemical imbalance. Her condition requires that she masturbate up to forty-seven times per day, though meds have brought that number down to as low as eighteen. Under the new ruling, Ms. Bezerra will be allowed to watch pornography and periodically pleasure herself while at work. It is unclear whether or not she will remain on the clock during such times.

Obviously, this could have major economic repercussions should other countries and their legal and judicial systems follow suit. Fantanelli spells out its radical implications: “The need to orgasm [is now] recognized by law.”

Who’s to say that masturbation is unproductive labor, either? It’s perfectly legitimate for wankers to demand wage compensation for their self-gratification. PornHub just released its new Wankband last month, which recharges your phone using repeated movement of the wrist. Half the world’s energy problems could be solved right there.

Enough idle speculation, though. Back to the sexperts in the public Left Unity thread.

Left Unity right to masturbate at work thread, part 2

That’s right. Someone just dropped the DicProle into this discussion. How does the dictatorship of the proletariat relate to watching porn or having a wank while at work, you ask? Your guess is as good as mine.

As heated as this whole ridiculous exchange got, one observer noted, it was still a good deal more fraternal than last year’s #SexyChair controversy. The one where blogger Richard Seymour was denounced as a “racist mansplaining pervert” for not immediately assenting to the idea that risqué raceplay in sex ought to be condemned as vile, consensual or not, in case everyone repressed it or forgot. Seymour and I don’t see eye to eye on many things, but I think he got a raw deal from the prudes in the fledgling ISN. “I can disagree with what a man has to say,” the great Enlightenment philosophe Voltaire once declared, “but I will defend to the death his right to make innocuous online comments about interracial lesbian dominatrix fetish furniture.”

Joking aside, however, it’s pretty sad this sort of thing would even be debated by a group looking to revitalize and unify the scattered fragments of the Left. Besides, it’s a reformist strategy. One could argue that it’s analogous to allowing employees a lunch break, that it’s just fulfilling a biological need (or desire or drive, take your pick), but we already waste too much of our lives at work. Whether it’s the injunction to “do what you love” or the option to “love yourself on the job,” all manner of ideologies are invented in order to justify prolonged hours.

I’ve been reading through Ben Noys’ book Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism — which is excellent, by the way — and he raises the grim specter of “the utopian merging of libidinal acceleration with an acceleration of labor that is repetitive and machinic…Work would (finally) be sexy.” This is precisely the problem with talk of a “right” to masturbate on the clock, apart from the obvious zaniness of the idea. As Amber A’Lee of the Dangerous Minds collective put it,

This is just an extension of the Google office-as-home. “YOU CAN HAVE PORN. YOU CAN BRING YOUR DOG. THERE’S A DOCTOR ON SITE! YOU NEVER HAVE TO LEAVE!”

Here’s the rest of that Left Unity thread, in case you were wondering. Or you can click here to view the whole thing at once. Either way, you should probably despair at the state of revolutionary politics today.

Left Unity right to masturbate at work thread, part 3

13 thoughts on “Wages for masturbation? Burning questions of our movement

  1. Oh, proletarian, please. It would appear that the major developments of Western civilisation during the period of the 16th through the 19th Centuries were had in a haze that some would have to be called alcoholic. The world can probably manage a little mid-day self-pleasuring.

  2. “How does the dictatorship of the proletariat relate to watching porn or having a wank while at work”?

    There will be no bourgeois sex under the dictatorship of the proletariat comrade, copulation is for procreation only.

    That there is everything that is wrong, conveniently set out as a cut-out-and-keep guide and I haven’t even finished reading it yet…

  3. It’s so easy to snipe, isn’t it? (Snipe?, snip? , , , Snipe.) And we get the quip about pro cum donors (gives a whole (hole?) new meaning to cumdump). Speaking of which, I feel a song coming (coming?, . . .) on:


    (At least the singer, unlike most ‘leftists’, was close to people who knew a thing or two about organising.)

    But the haters, as usual, miss the point. This is a crucial matter for the world proletariat and its historical task of realising the potential of being-becoming (becoming?, . . .) born by its identity as the universal class for-itself. (Now that’s a totally different kettle of identity politics.)

    The politics of autoeroticism in conditions of authenticity, not alienation, strikes at the heart of a heartless world. It was why Bukharin and Preobrazhensky penned their companion volume, ‘The ABC of Communism (The Love: Remixed Mashup)’ – with a few chapters (a few?!? – sexist pigs!) contributed by Ally Kolly.

    (Ross, you must be able to find that 1919 debate in ‘Pravda’, at the height of the civil war, Moscow threatened, Babel on his horse, blood flowing in the Don, when Trotsky stopped his train to fire off his missive after Shliapnikov (the Splitter) had gone all workerist in the paragon of truth, pouting his typical proletarian corporatist line over eroticism as bourgeois, the play of dandies and socialites – thank god he died (bullet, Lubianka, ’37) before he saw Paris’ Twitter feed.)

    And credit where credit’s due. Ruth Greenberg (peace be upon her) strikes me as the sort of upstanding, concerned socialist we all need more of. There’s no point having a safe space, the reassuring posters in reception stating the rules, the comfort blankets strewn around, the padded walls (exactly), if we don’t have supervisors, people who care. And Ruth (peace be upon her) obviously cares, she’s a sentinel, and I’m sure if she were Cuban, and obviously chairman of her neighbourhood committee (chairman?!? – those god damn machos!), she’d be organising street patrols along the Malecón rooting out all that petty bourgeois contamination of our Sunshine Socialist (Dry) Dream.

    But to be serious for a moment. Ruth has come up with a catchy election slogan that can be used as Left Unity spreads the love of socialism at this time of great stress and heightened arousal, the heated bubble fuelled by election fever: “Wanking at work is not on” (10.08am, April 16).

    If only Wilhelm were alive.

  4. The really strange thing about this “discussion”, both here and on the Left Unity site, is that Owen Jones says NOTHING about Simon Danczuk masturbating at all, let alone at work. He does mention judges doing this, but the BBC web site that he links to does not say that they masturbated at work: it says that they watched porn using their work IT accounts. Presumably, they can do this away from work. Presumably also, they – and Danczuk – may have even watched porn without masturbating. Who knows? Who cares?

  5. Is the ‘masturbation notice’ on top a joke or what? It might just be true, especially since they only talk about the thousands of dollars it would cost to clean the (not specially designed) floors. A socialist would have said: somebody might slip on the cum lying about and break his neck. Nobody cares about the workers!

  6. Pingback: Labour’s War Against Wankers! Discussion of Masturbation is a forbidden topic but is it anti-Semitic? - Tony Greenstein

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