Is Pop-Culture Informing Our Masturbation Habits?

We conducted a survey of 2000 sexually active Americans to help us get to the bottom of whether depictions of masturbation, sex and sex toys go beyond Gen Z.

Published May 21 2021 5 min read

Pop culture shapes our relationships, our opinions, and can change the way we view ourselves and the world. The media has been known to influence younger generations’ perceptions of love, romance and sex, but what effects does pop culture have on the 30+ demographic?

We often hold movies accountable for the expectations we have of sex, which obviously evolve over time, but our initial sexual awakening is quite often tied to a specific movie scene (think American Pie) or an MTV music video. 


And whilst sex is often discussed in tandem with relationships and intimacy, as we move towards a culture more open to discussing sex, solo sex has moved to the forefront by interacting with both pleasure and fantasy. Masturbation moments have made their way into mainstream shows such as Euphoria and Sex Education, so we have more representation of self-love than ever before.

Current exposure to sex and sexuality is completely different from any generation before, with pop culture providing insights and offering new language around sexual experiences, expression and preferences. But does this reach a slightly more mature demographic, or is this reserved for your initial awakenings? Are the over 30’s still learning about masturbation habits through pop culture?

We conducted a survey of 2000 sexually active Americans to help us get to the bottom of whether depictions of masturbation, sex and sex toys go beyond Gen Z. And we found that whilst pop culture may be influencing younger generations, there’s a whole slew of more mature Americans who seem relatively immune to this wave (or, at least, the tone of it). 

The key takeaways were:

  • 43% have noticed more sex toys appearing on TV, in movies and in adverts over the past decade BUT 85% said this hasn’t influenced their decision or desire to buy one.
  • 50% still don’t masturbate with regularity
  • 38% own a sex toy or have in the past BUT 58% have never and have no plans to purchase one. Now if we look at the age split that is 70% of participants aged 61+ have no interest in owning a sex toy! 
  • Existing sex toy owners do tend to be women between 30 and 40 years old & they typically have one to three toys; however, they bought/got their first one between the ages of 19 and 25 (meaning they haven’t been recently influenced). 
  • The majority of people tend to start recognizing sexual and masturbation references in media in their teens – 13 to 18 – and during the same period, are likely to masturbate for the first time. Excluding the internet, most respondents learned about sex from friends, at school, and from TV and movies (in that order), which means it may be too late for these media references to affect the 30+ group.

So, what does this mean and how can we help?

Based on this survey, it seems that doubling down on this mission – considering what type of representation might have a more significant impact – could be the best hope for shifting perceptions of 30+ year-old Americans, rather than relying on the newest Netflix series to reshape our learning. TV and pop culture are wonderful ways to facilitate the conversation around sex but this isn’t making its way into real-life actions for a majority of those 30+.

Famous pop culture scenes haven’t had much impact on their early sex education, nor do they feel these scenes accurately represent sex and masturbation. At the same time, almost half do think that more representation in the media could help break taboos around the topic (i.e. talking, reading and hearing about sex and masturbation in revered outlets) - suggesting that the current type of representation isn’t resonating with this demographic.

MysteryVibe holds the mission to demonstrate the immense impact that the acknowledgment of sexual wellness can have on personal health closely. And this becomes increasingly more relevant as we age and we experience life and body changes that can impact our sexual health and wellness. By putting a greater effort into targeting a mature audience, whether through blog posts, pop culture or educational tools, we can get people to take control and actively engage with their sexual health through informed conversation, better education, and useful sexual health products. 

Take pleasure into your own hands today with MysteryVibe’s range of award-winning products.

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