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‘Bating’, the online community finding connection through jerking off

By Chris Murphy (he/him)

Contributing Writer



Artwork / Haydn Nixon (he/him)


The internet is a weird place for ‘communities’. The global scale and relative anonymity of most online platforms has allowed for communities to pop up around topics that would otherwise never be discussed in everyday conversation. I came across a community like this in the very lonely days of the lockdown in 2020. A friend of mine told me that there were servers on Discord where you could meet guys to jerk off with - it seemed like a fun idea and, honestly, I would have done anything to feel any type of human connection. So, I gave it a try. But the community I discovered was a lot more than just horny queer dudes masturbating together. I came into the strange, and surprisingly deep world of bating (bay-ting) and solosexuality (where one prefers masturbation over other forms of sex). After lockdowns came to end and life went back to normal for most of us, I moved away from that community, but my interest remained. It’s big and complicated, sometimes even esoteric, but it’s definitely one of the internet’s more unique queer communities - the world of bating and solosexuality. So, what is it exactly?


“I get up early every day and I can easily find three hours to bate. Other people might watch morning television.”


M.B. Timothy is an author and an out and proud solosexual and bator from Melbourne. He describes bating as, “actively going deep into the pleasure you can get from your own body.” Solosexuality is usually defined as a type of sexual expression where a person expresses their sexuality alone but, to Timothy, it’s a lot broader than just that. He’s married to a solosexual partner, and recognises solosexuality in a variety of people. From those who don’t engage in partnered sex to those who might prefer to masturbate with their partner; “[It’s] a spectrum, like any other sexuality.” When we finally sat down, I was immediately struck by his down-to-earth demeanour. He’s a well-groomed, well-spoken 30-something Aussie guy, not at all what most people would imagine when they think of a self-described masturbator. He manages to masturbate for at least three hours a day - a number that’s probably eye-popping for many. When asked whether he ever struggles to balance that with his personal and professional life he says, “No,” without the slightest hint of hesitation. For him, it’s just another part of his daily life, akin to work, family or sex, “I get up early every day and I can easily find three hours to bate. Other people might watch morning television.” He’s been with the community for a long time and has seen it grow massively, from maybe 100 people on various sites and forums to a large community of adult performers, writers, podcasters and, of course, casual bators and solosexuals.


The bating community is a distinctly online one. Like most niche internet subcultures the exact origins of the community are pretty elusive, but it probably has its roots in early gay online forums and chat rooms. The older bators I’ve spoken with seem to remember coming across terms like bator and solosexual around 2005, but more than likely it existed before that in one form or another. It also began to grow on communities like Tumblr, but probably really found its feet with the founding of BateWorld, a social networking site specifically for bators. It’s through sites like BateWorld that bators and solosexuals were able to start creating an identity, sharing techniques and stories, as well as nudes and porn. Nowadays, you’ll find most of the community on Twitter or Discord. For many people, digital communities are a safe space to explore their bodies and their sexualities openly. During lockdown it became a place for people to enjoy a sexual connection with others safely. For others, it can be a fun way to get their image out and make money.


“I’m just happy I can be 25 and have a community that I fit into,”

ColbyJaxx is a 25 year old adult entertainer from Wisconsin in the US. He recently won the BateWorld bate-off, a kind of online reality show where people took part in masturbation challenges, trying different positions and techniques on camera for audience votes. It doesn’t even cross his mind that winning a jerk off contest might be odd for some people outside the community, “I wear it proudly,” he says. He’s from a small town in Wisconsin where everyone knows everyone, so his career in porn isn’t exactly a secret. “Everyone knows about Colby,” he says. He’s got a pretty stoic attitude about it though, he keeps his head high. He’s friendly and chipper, with a slight Midwestern twang to his accent. With a bleach-white smile and short blonde hair, he looks like a Ken doll (if Ken could jerk off). He came into bating fairly recently, during Covid, he had a boyfriend at the time and was tired of bottoming, “It felt like a task.” So discovering a community where he could just enjoy his own body was a perfect space for him. He loved the open and body-positive attitude of the community, as a person who had struggled with body image and eating disorders for most of his life. Being able to see so many different body types being celebrated as well as being open with his own body helped him immensely, “I’m just happy I can be 25 and have a community that I fit into,” he says.


But, like all communities, this one has its dark sides. There are many parts of the community that celebrate and encourage chronic masturbation and porn addiction. It’s easy to come across parts and aspects of the community that are more about self-destruction than they are about self-pleasure. Encouraging people to prioritise jerking off over their normal life, to skip work, ignore their partners and ignore their families. As with many online kinks, it's difficult to tell how much of it is real and how much of it is just a fantasy. But still, it's a disturbing aspect of the community and one that’s particularly concerning as issues like porn addiction come more and more into the mainstream conversation.

Liam Williams is a podcaster, writer and bator living in Melbourne. Though he has a podcast, writes erotic fiction and maintains a Facebook group and Discord server he doesn’t really seem himself as community-oriented or part of a collective. “I don’t know if I was trying to find a community, it was more for me confirming yet another thing about my sexuality that was different,” He explains, “Despite the podcasts and the Discord server, I don’t have this big ‘community feeling’ around me.” He’s more interested in bringing the conversation into the mainstream in real-life, and normalising solo-sex as a legitimate sexual preference and not just an online kink. He created his podcast because he felt that many other existing solosexual and bating podcasts were too focused on just being something for listeners to wank to rather, than a serious conversation about sexual identity. It’s not about solo-sex being an alternative sex for losers who can’t get laid but a normal and healthy part of a person’s sexual life, he tells me, “you can enjoy an hour with yourself as much as you can enjoy an hour with someone else.” Though he understands the irony of doing his advocacy from behind a fake name, for him, it's about removing the stigma and shame around the act in general, “I want to get to the point where the blokes that I play sport with know I’m a bator.” And he feels like it’s getting there, he tells me about several conversations he’s had with friends, both straight and gay, who’ve been receptive to his identity.


“you can enjoy an hour with yourself as much as you can enjoy an hour with someone else.”


There definitely seems to be a lot of big goals for the community, and it doesn’t look like it's slowing down anytime soon, with hundreds of new people joining websites like Bateworld or getting on Twitter everyday. For me, at least, there is something that is radically subversive and inherently queer about bating culture. Masturbation is something that for most of modern history has been something dirty, shameful, sinful and, most of all, hidden. As Thomas Laquer writes in Solo Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation, “[Masturbation] is that part of human sexual life where potentially unlimited pleasure meets social restraint.” The willingness of these men to completely throw away the social restraints put on their self-pleasure is a strangely defiant act in many ways. Though at times I found myself struggling to take intellectual takes on the community seriously when looking at endless streams of porn and dick pics. I think for some in the community it is a more intimate expression of their sexuality and for others it is just a kink, or even just an addiction to porn, there’s probably room for both types at the end of the day. I also just think it’s great for queer people in general. As “side” has become a more and more popular alternative to the traditional roles of top, bottom and vers, I think a lot of people, regardless of their gender, would benefit from just getting more in touch with their own bodies and how to do that with a partner. It’s very common for bators to be people who were just sick of penetrative sex, and communities like this one can play a role in expanding the mainstream idea of what sex is (i.e. not just a penis going inside somebody).

Masturbating, jerking off, bating, whatever you want to call it - can definitely be a funny topic. When I first started writing this piece I was expecting to end up with something more humorous but after speaking with the men of the bating community, it’s become hard not to take it seriously. For people who “bate”, jerking off isn’t just jerking off. Colby said at one point during our interview, “to me, it’s a form of self-love and taking care of yourself.” It’s almost an art form for them, it’s their sex, but it’s also a form of self-expression. Because, I think, when we get rid of all the awkward discomfort around the subject it becomes another facet of sexuality, like anything else. Bators and solosexual have issues within their community, just like any other, but people can and do make efforts to improve it. The community is young and still finding its feet. While a lot of people might struggle to take it seriously as an identity, after having such open and honest conversations about it, I’m mostly on board.



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