The Masturbate-a-thon is an event in which participants masturbate to raise money for charity and increase the public awareness and dispel the shame and taboos that exist about this form of sexual activity. During the past six years, the Masturbate-a-thon has raised over $25,000 for women’s health initiatives and HIV prevention, education and treatment organizations, and has contributed to debates about safer sex and alternative safe methods of sexual expression.[full citation needed] The event awards several honors for those who raise the most money as well as for multiple orgasms and endurance.
In May 1995, San Francisco–based sex toy shop Good Vibrations declared May to be "Masturbation Month". Since then, it has encouraged people to get sponsors as a fundraiser for charities with a sex-positive focus.
In 1999, the Masturbate-a-Thon was originated by the collective Open Enterprises, which operates Good Vibrations. The slogan "Come for a Cause" was coined by Rachel Venning, the founder of the sex toy shop Babeland, formerly Toys in Babeland, which has branches in Seattle, in Brooklyn, and (two) in Manhattan. The Masturbate-a-Thon was built up by Good Vibrations, which encouraged other modern sex-toy businesses—such as Babeland; A Woman's Touch, in Madison, Wisconsin; Toronto's Come As You Are; and Boston's Grand Opening—to hold events coinciding with "masturbation month" (May in the United States). In that year, the first live event was held at San Francisco's Campus Theater, by the Center for Sex and Culture (CSC)'s Carol Queen and her partner, Robert Lawrence. CSC is an education-based non-profit providing professional-level sex education. The annual events are used as a public-health-education device to increase awareness of self-pleasure as a strategy for safer and healthier sex and to de-stigmatize self-love.
London hosted Europe's first "masturbate-a-thon" on 5 August 2006. Hundreds of persons raised money for the charity Terrence Higgins Trust and the sexual- and reproductive-health agency Marie Stopes International. The Masturbate-a-thon, also called "Wank-a-Thon," was recorded by ZigZagProductions of London as part of an international documentary of the event. However, plans to broadcast this on Channel 4 as part of its Wank Week series were abandoned, including programming from Europe's fetish and leather week.
Montreal's first Masturbate-a-thon (aka "Wankfest") was on 4 May 2013 and raised money for the charity Head and Hands, a youth sex education and outreach organization, and Sexploreum, an adult education group dedicated to encouraging playfulness with sexuality. Masturbate-a-thon 3 in 2014 was cancelled due to lack of registrations.
- Queen, Carol (April 23, 2003). "The Royal Treatment: Time to Masturbate". Spectator Magazine, reprinted in Good Vibrations magazine. Retrieved July 24, 2007.
- Lloyd, Stacy (April 30, 2010). "May is National Masturbation Month". Empowher. Retrieved June 19, 2011.
- Masturbate-a-thon press release (retrieved August 6, 2006)[dead link]
- Leigh Holmwood (July 18, 2006). "More tossers on TV". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved November 2, 2007.
- Jason Deans (February 2, 2007). "'Wank week' postponed". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved November 2, 2007.
- "'Masturbate-a-thon Montreal'". June 21, 2013. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
- "Unofficial" Portland Masturbate-a-thon site (requires password to access)