Saturday, October 5, 2019

From 2009... Masturbation in Urban China

From 2009... Masturbation in Urban China. Aniruddha Das, William L. Parish, Edward O. Laumann. Archives of Sexual Behavior, February 2009, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 108–120.

Abstract: This study examined the prevalence and sources of masturbatory practice in a nationally representative sample from China completed in the year 2000, with analysis of sources focused on 2,828 urban respondents aged 20–59. In this subpopulation, 13% (95% CI, 10–18) of women and 35% (CI, 26–44) of men reported any masturbation in the preceding year. Prevalence for people in their 20s was higher, and closer to US and European levels, especially for men. Particularly for women, masturbation not only compensated for absent partners but also complemented the high sexual interests of a subset of participants. For both women and men, practicing masturbation appeared to be a two-step process. In the first step, events such as sexual contact in childhood, early puberty, and early sex were related to sexualization and the “gateway event” of adolescent masturbation. In the second step, other factors, such as liberal sexual values and sexual knowledge, further increased the current probability of masturbation. Overall, the results suggest that masturbation is readily adopted even at more modest levels of economic and social development, that masturbation is often more than simply compensatory behavior for regular partnered sex, that masturbatory patterns are heavily influenced by early sexualization, and that a complex model is needed to comprehend masturbatory practice, particularly for women.

Keywords: Masturbation China Sexualization Social influence

Perspectives on Masturbation

Much research on the correlates of sexual behavior has advocated multi-causal models subsuming biological and psychosocial factors (Bancroft, 1983, 2002; Hawton, 1987; Kaplan, 1974; Laumann et al., 1994; Lipsith et al., 2003; Riley, 1998; Udry, 1988). A similar broad range of influences has been investigated in studies of masturbation (Kontula & Haavio-Mannila, 2002; Laumann et al., 1994).
This broad approach was repeated in the present study and informed the two central questions outlined above.

Relationship to Partnered Sex: Compensatory or Complementary?
At least implicitly, both early (Kinsey, Pomeroy, & Martin, 1948; Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin, & Gebhard, 1953) and more recent studies (Lipsithet al.,2003) have viewed sexuality as a result of fixed individual levels of sexual ‘‘drive’’ (Laumann et al., 1994). From this perspective, masturbation appears to be a suboptimal outlet for sexual tension, compensating for the lack of availability of either partnered sex or satisfactory partnered sex (Langstrom & Hanson, 2006). Empirical data suggest thatmasturbationmay not have such a simple inverse relationship to partnered sex (Laumann et al., 1994). Also, in some societies, the relationships may be in flux, an example being the tendency for more recent generations of Western youth to view masturbation not as a second-best solution but as a relatively autonomous sexual act that can coexist with the availability of partnered sex (Dekker & Schmidt, 2002; Kontula & Haavio-Mannila, 2002). If masturbation is compensatory, it can be expected to be more common among those with little access to satisfying partnered sex, e.g., no partnered sex of any kind, stable partner often absent, and unsatisfying sex with a stable partner. If complementary, masturbation would be unrelated to the availability of partnered sex. Moreover, if masturbation has a life of its own, it can be expected to be more common among more highly sexualized individuals, including those with multiple partners in the previous year, those who have more varied sexual practices with their stable partner, and those who report frequent thoughts about sex.

Social Origins
Life Trajectory: As with other sexual behavior, the social origins of masturbation are likely to begin with early sexualizing experiences, whose influences persist into adulthood (Browning & Laumann, 1997, 2003; Laumann, Browning, Rijt, & Gatzeva, 2003). Consistent with recent research in human development (Caspi et al., 2003; Shanahan & Hofer, 2005), ‘‘sexualization’’ is conceived here not as a simple outcome of individual-specific biological traits, but of a complex system of interacting biological and social processes. Kontula and Haavio-Mannila (2002) found that patterns of masturbation set early in the life course became a stable feature of sexual expression in adulthood, indicating perhaps that sexualization tends to become a self-sustaining pattern, an argument consistent, for women, with Kinsey et al.’s (1953) early observations. In the same 2002 study, early initiation into partnered sex (whether conceptualized as an indicator of hormonal levels or of social entrainment in a less inhibited sexual career) was associated with a greater propensity to masturbate in adulthood. Early pubertal development has been found to be correlated with higher levels of sexuality in adulthood (Belsky,Steinberg, & Draper, 1991; Moffit, Caspi, Belsky,&Silva,1992),with both differential hormonal levels and different social environments arguably contributing to these patterns (Liao, Missenden, Hallam, & Conway, 2005; Udry, 1988). Though disagreeing on the exact mechanisms involved, studies agree that sexual contact during childhood or adolescence is correlated with an intensification of sexual behaviors in adulthood (Browning & Laumann, 1997, 2003; Laumann et al., 2003). Values/Knowledge: Whether through the direct transmission of ‘‘cultural scenarios’’ of sexual appropriateness (Ellingson, Laumann, Paik, & Mahay,2004) or indirectly by enabling the individual to consume media products carrying globalized or ‘‘modern’’ sexual scripts, higher education arguably increases the propensity to masturbate (Kontula & Haavio-Mannila, 2002). The individual’s current sexual values, almost by definition, serve as indicators of internalized cultural scripts or norms defining appropriate sexual behavior, including, potentially, masturbation (Kontula & Haavio-Mannila, 2002; Sandfort, Bos, Haavio-Mannila, & Sundet, 1998). Qualitative and small-sample studies in China and Taiwan also indicate the persistence of the belief that excessive ejaculation, and particularly masturbation, causes shenkui, or a loss of virility and energy (So & Cheung, 2005). Additionally, anecdotal evidence suggests the recency of ‘‘rediscovery’’ of the clitoris and clitoral orgasms among Western women, an event connected with increased sexual liberalism stemming from the sexual revolution (Angier,2000).Thus, knowledge of the clitoris, apart from indicating greater sexual knowledge, is also arguably a marker of more permissive sexual values.

Several background characteristics were controlled in the analysis, including region, age, and sexual dysfunctions. Arguably, sociocultural context, as proxied by area of current residence, may affect a person’s understandings and modes of sexuality, whether by embedding him or her in a more sexually permissive peer network or by increasing exposure to globalized or ‘‘Westernized’’ media products. Age can also be important, not only in influencing hormone levels and vitality but also because it indexes differential experiences of cohorts who came of age at different times (Abbott, 2005; Ryder, 1965). Both popular literature and academic studies suggest that masturbation can be a route for women to achieve orgasm and, implicitly, relieve sexual difficulties (e.g., Berman & Berman, 2005; Hite, 1976; Leiblum & Rosen,2000; LoPiccolo & Lobitz,1972; McMullen & Rosen, 1979; Meston, Levin, Sipski, Hull, & Heiman,2004), a mechanism that may potentially apply to men as well.

In addition to these factors, several reflections of low social control were considered, such as drunkenness, smoking, and having had commercial sex over the preceding year. However, these effects failed to reach significance net of the other factors, and were therefore dropped in the final analysis.

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