In public, he was rude to her. In private, she masturbated about him.
That’s a simplified version of a sexual fantasy described to me by Holly, who prefers to not reveal her real name. The longer version goes as follows: Holly had a temporary boss who was covering for someone on maternity leave. She describes this man as “rude, arrogant, massively misogynistic” with an oversized ego and a proclivity to publicly admonish members of staff in front of their colleagues.
“He was a royal dick,” Holly told me. “He was not someone I would have chosen to ever associate with, or speak to, and I never went out of my way to have any kind of interaction if I could help it.”
“He could look down on me all day, because at night I looked down at him.”
But one night, when her boyfriend was out of the house, she got horny and started thinking about her boss. Despite hating the guy, Holly found herself excited by the way he commanded attention, with the entire room hanging on his every word. “In my fantasy, I was the one demanding attention and taking control. I was the one making him feel small, begging, and weak,” she said. “I got a big kick from the whole idea of making him pay. It made me feel somewhat more at ease at work when he was going off on one. I would often think about him being submissive and snivelling.”
A decade on, Holly still thinks about him. Her fantasy became a method of taking control of a situation that made her feel disempowered. “He could look down on me all day, because at night, I looked down at him beneath the heel of my shoe. It gave me a sense of relief that was more than just sexual.” Holly said it made her feel she was somehow balancing the power, or reclaiming her self-worth. “In my fantasy, I was in charge. I was making the demands and setting the rules. I was dominating and powerful. I liked that.”
Masturbating about someone you dislike or hate isn’t uncommon. Some call it a “hate wank” while others refer to the practice as “hatesturbating.” Avid viewers of sex and the City will recall Miranda divulging that she masturbated to a busboy who was rude to her. Eager to understand the reasons behind this practice, I bravely opened my Twitter DMs in the hope of speaking to people who…uh…wank about their enemies. To my surprise, my inbox was inundated with messages from people with a wide variety of sexual fantasies about ex partners, colleagues, bosses, and (rather unsurprisingly) political figures they despise. Here are just a few of their stories.
Tales of nasty bosses fuelling sexually charged fantasies is a recurring theme, it would appear. Robert — who prefers to use his first name only — worked with senior female colleague who “would often be quite rude and stereotypically mean, almost bratty” towards him. In spite of (and perhaps because of) her conduct, he was attracted to her. “I sort of enjoyed her disdain in a bit,” he said. “I’ve worked with a lot of people in my career, but there was something quite striking about how caustic she could be sometimes.”
Grace, who wants to use her first name only, told me about a masturbation fantasy that arose from a friendship fallout. Grace fell out with her friend a few years ago after being accused of flirting with her boyfriend. “I wasn’t. I was just sitting next to him one evening instead of her. Shocking,” said Grace. “So now I sometimes revenge-wank over her boyfriend, as like a ‘fuck you’ to her,” she added. Grace describes the practice as “bizarrely satisfying” — particularly as she suspects this former friend still talks about her behind her back.
“I can’t control what she and her pals think of me, but I can take some power of my own in thinking about her weak-ass boyfriend when I’m having some me time,” she said. “I worry it’s a bit fucked up sometimes, like I imagine hooking up with him in the spare room at their flat (where I stayed briefly one summer) and her finding us. Such a power trip.”
This notion of ‘power’ comes up frequently in people’s hatesturbation fantasies. For some, it’s a way of reclaiming control of a dynamic that had previously made them feel powerless. For others, having an elaborate fantasy with a new version of imaginary events allowed them to carve out a new narrative. As clinical psychologist Daniel Sher — founder of sex therapy clinic Between Us — explained, sex goes hand-in-hand with notions of power and domination. “For some people, getting off by imaging someone they hate helps them to feel that they are getting back at that person,” said Sher. “It gives them a sense of power, to be able to use that person as a source of pleasure.”
It would be remiss not to mention the role political figures play in masturbation fantasies. In my inbox, people cited divisive UK political figures like Dominic Cummings, Priti Patel, Margaret Thatcher, as well as U.S. far-right pundit Ann Coulter. Max, who prefers to not reveal his real name, told me that he masturbates about “really horrendous right wingers” that he finds physically attractive, but ideologically opposed to. “It’s the combination of people who you think are physically hot but morally disgusting,” he explained.
So, what do other experts say on the topic of hatesturbating? Psychotherapist Neil Wilkie, author of Reset: The Relationship Paradigm, said that masturbating over people we hate is a way of shedding guilt and shame and claiming a position of dominance — particularly when someone has hurt or controlled us. “Subconsciously we are standing proud and saying, ‘I am better than you. I am in control of what I am doing. I don’t care what you think. I am going to have a wonderful orgasm and you are not.’” As LELO sex therapist Kate Moyle explained, many of our sexual fantasies are not rational and they are often rendered all the more enjoyable if they’re removed from what we’d do in reality. “Although we may hate some aspects of someone there may be characteristics about them that turn us on, or that we find sexy,” she explained.
Dr Earim, medical director of men’s wellness platform Manual, said hatesturbation is strongly connected to ‘hate sex’ — sex with someone you hate. Earim said that when someone is hate-masturbating, it’s possible they could be fantasising about ‘hate sex’ more than the actual person. “With ‘hate sex,’ the anger or contempt you feel for a person is translated into passion,” said Earim. “That passion then shifts into a shared experience where both partners may still dislike or hate each other, yet still consent to sex, with the tension between the two people enhancing the experience.” It’s important to note that ‘hate sex’ should be entered into with full mutual consent and an understanding of the nature of the sex you’ll be having.
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People don’t just hate-wank over political figures, horrible bosses, and former friends, though. As you’d likely expect, ex-partners also feature heavily in hatesturbating fantasies. Amelia, who prefers to not use her real name, thinks about her ex boyfriend when she’s masturbating. “He was always rude and he was always an antagonist,” she told me. That antagonistic dynamic worked well for Amelia and her ex in the bedroom, but beyond that realm, it was a source of friction. “The sex was never the problem, it was when he talked that was the problem,” she added. “He once said that if he’d seen my profile on a dating app and then met me in real life he’d have been disappointed.” “Now that he’s off being antagonistic somewhere else, and I don’t have to deal with that, you just have this hot sexual fantasy where he doesn’t talk, but we can just have sex,” she added.
Another respondent, who prefers to remain anonymous, told me an ex of his crops up regularly in his masturbation fantasies. “She just crossed the line in so many ways but our sex life was that good, that sometimes if I’m doing a ‘memory lane wank,’ she creeps in there” he said.
Desire and power are inextricably linked. It makes sense, therefore, that hatesturbation can allow people to imagine themselves dominating or gaining power over someone who has made them feel powerless, disempowered, or humiliated. If it helps you channel your feelings about a situation that’s upset you, all power to you.