the ubiquitous handjob

It seems there’s a special day for everything lately! July 21 is Handjob Day so in the spirit of sex-positivity, let’s talk about this old standby sex move: the ubiquitous handjob

My opinions and feelings on handjobs have certainly changed over time, and I asked around a bit to see if there’s a perspective on handjobs that I may be missing. The responses were very interesting. 

Okay, okay, so we don’t really need an inter/national day to celebrate handjobs, but why not? Handjobs certainly have their merits, but are they worth the effort? That depends on your point of view! To be perfectly honest, as a person who has given innumerable handjobs in my lifetime, I don’t really think of them as their own thing, more like something that sometimes happens. As I began to think and write more about them, I realised that even though I think I’m pretty familiar, I needed to approach handjobs more academically, not just anecdotally. Interestingly enough, handjobs are a very specific and narrowly defined act. 

Definition

The most broad and common definition appears to be:

“A handjob is an act of male masturbation, especially as performed on a man, by someone else.”
Immediately, I’m confused. Masturbation is widely understood as self-stimulation, so how can someone ‘masturbate’ some else?  It mimics masturbation, perhaps that’s the connection? ‘Handjob’ is categorised as ‘vulgar slang’ so perhaps not much thought has been put into the definition. However, definitions should be, well, definitive.

What’s in a name?

Much like the crass ‘blowjob’, the word ‘handjob’ seems to predominantly mean something experienced by cis men. Terminology around sexual acts is often unnecessarily gender exclusionary (think “reverse cowgirl”). According to this general definition, only people with penises and/or cis men can receive handjobs. This is the colloquial way that handjob is used. Why? (short answer: patriarchy) But what if, as a cis woman, I’m wearing a strap-on and my partner is stroking it? Is that not a handjob? I think it is. And why isn’t a ‘handjob’ just a generic term for one person stimulating another person with their hand? Language matters! Inclusivity matters! 

Tips for a giving a great one

Regardless of how you define ‘handjob’ and who you think it refers to, stroking someone’s cock can be super-duper hot. But if you don’t have one of your own, the idea of handling a peen so directly can leave you wondering if you know as much as you think you do. Here are some tips, some starting points, for giving a great handjob. 

Ask for consent and direction

Communicate clearly! Use plain language to solicit enthusiastic and on-going consent with your partner. As much as handjobs are sometimes deemed as juvenile or ‘entry-level’, you’re still handing someone’s body in an intimate way. Just because a sex act isn’t very nuanced, doesn’t mean it’s open season. If you’re unsure of what will drive them wild, just ask. 

Mind the (orgasm) gap

I can’t talk about such a phallo-centric bit of fun like a handjob without bringing the conversation around to acknowledge the over all phallocentricity of sex culture. Don’t get me wrong. I love cock, both homegrown and storebought,  as much as the next person, but our culture centers cocks all the time. All I’m saying is that handjobs often come with the unspoken rule that they lead to orgasm, and many people believe that when a penis ejaculates that signals the end of sex. Show’s over, nothing to see here! We are all, ultimately, responsible for our own pleasure, so if they get theirs and you don’t because “sex is done now”, I encourage you to speak up for your needs! The penis can be the priority, but it doesn’t have to be the priority. 

Don’t be a jerk when you’re jerking it

Genitals are fickle things, and basically everyone, no matter how confident, is emotionally attached to their genitals in one way or another. You may be experiencing their cock for the first time or the 500th, but regardless, this is not the moment for criticism, visible frustration or judgement. Treat it like what it is: an intimate sexual act. No two cocks are the same so no two handjobs will be the same. Be prepared to respond and adapt your technique! 

Be gentle, but not too gentle

If mainstream porn has taught us anything, it’s that a firm grip and a crazy-fast pumping motion is the archetype of male masturbation. Maybe that works for some, but it’s not universal and is not the blueprint for an epic handjob. Genitals are sturdy but sensitive so handle with care. As a baseline, begin with a grip that is similar to a handshake, and talk to your partner about how that feels. 

Accept your limitations

When I think of giving a handjob, the first thing I think of is how cramped my forearm is likely to get. Sorry, not sorry, carpal tunnel is nothing to sneeze at. It’s a fact! I simply don’t have the kind of endurance and musculature to stroke a cock as efficiently or for as long as it’s owner probably can. Nor am I at the right angle or position. Sure, I can switch hands but my left hand can never keep a good rhythm, so my right hand bears the brunt of it. Over the years I have learned that no one expects you to pump it like a robot with a piston for an arm. The goal is not to perfectly mimic masturbation. They don’t need anyone for that. This is about your hand, on their body, and how exciting that can be for both of you.

Lube is your friend!

Good lube is as good as naturally occurring lubrication. In fact, a well-made pH neutral lube can often outlast natural lubrication and provides a more consistent slipperiness which reduces overall friction and irritation. Handjobs are often spontaneous or covert meaning lube isn’t always in the cards but if you have some, go for it. Remember that a dab of lube under the foreskin goes a long way. 

handjob lube I make no bones about my love of Sutil Lube, and our brand partnership. They have a gorgeous line of products! Not only are their products effective, they are small-batch made to ensure the highest quality and they ethically source organic flavours, herbal aphrodisiac extracts, and soothing plant emollients. You can read all my Sutil Lube Product reviews here.

Final Thoughts

Handjobs are often considered isolated, covert experiences; something quick, secret, and naughty. Other times they can be a preamble to something else, or the highlight of the session. The handjob is a bit of an underdog, relegated to anxty virgins and labelled “for foreplay only”. When given some thought a handjob is not a subpar sex act. Nor is it too simple or too juvenile to be worthy of your time. How handjobs fit into your repertoire is up to you and your partner, as is what you make of them. Like them or not, handjobs remain an ‘old standby’. I certainly changed my tune from when I first began thinking and talking about them for this article, to now. I’m pro handjob, for sure!  They aren’t going anywhere, so why not give them a try? But this time, enjoy them without expectations or muddled definitions, whether you are giving or receiving. Make your own rules: your life, your body. Explore, be kind, play safe, have fun! 

 

 

 

 

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Violet

Violet Fawkes (she/her) is a freelance writer and sex blogger focusing on pleasure education, erotic fiction, and the intersection of identity, kink and mental health.