Enter your email to read this article
Read news on any topic, in one place, from publishers like The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more.

UK University berated for allowing ‘PhD in masturbation’

Karl Andersson
Karl Andersson

The University of Manchester has been criticised by an MP for allowing a student to publish a “PhD in masturbation”.

Karl Andersson was researching the “shota” genre of Japanese comic books which centre around prepubescent or pubescent male characters depicted in a “suggestive or erotic” manner. 

In the abstract for his project, which has been published by the university, Mr Andersson decided he wanted to “understand how [individuals] experience sexual pleasure when reading shota”. 

To do this, he claims he embarked on a three-month stint of masturbating to the comic books and making notes on each session. 

He also shunned all other forms of pornography and sex. After he had conducted his research, he would “write down his thoughts and feelings” as a “self-critical reflection”. 

He said: “It was necessary to be diligent enough to abstain from the ‘milk and muesli’ of porn during this experiment, in order to see what happened to my body on a long diet of ‘fish and miso soup’.

“I happened to live alone during this experiment, and I had newly become single after a long relationship - these factors probably contributed to my willingness and eagerness to explore this method.”

Article raised ire of politicians and public

After publishing the 4,000 word article, Mr Andersson and the University of Manchester came under fire from politicians and members of the public on social media who branded the piece a “PhD on masturbation”. 

Conservative MP Neil O’Brien took particular offence to the publication of the article. 

Writing on Twitter, he said: “Why should hard-working taxpayers in my constituency have to pay for an academic to write about his experiences masturbating to Japanese porn?

“The non-STEM side of higher education is just much too big, producing too much that is not socially useful.”

Explaining his “methodology” Mr Andersson said: “In short: I would masturbate in the same way that my research participants did it. 

“After each masturbation session I would write down my thoughts and feelings - a kind of critical self-reflection - in a notebook, as well as details about which material I had used, where I had done it, at what time, and for how long.

“I would not be allowed to have any other sexual relief during this ‘fieldwork’ in my own sexuality: no regular porn, no sex with another person, no fantasies or memories - it had to be shota every time.”

Mr Andersson’s university website profile states that he is researching how fans of subcultural comics in Japan experience desire and think about sexual identities, especially in regards to fictional and actual realities. 

His research is funded by the university’s School of Arts, Languages and Cultures.

A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “The recent publication in Qualitative Research of the work of a student, now registered for a PhD, has raised significant concerns and complaints which we are taking very seriously.

“We are currently undertaking a detailed investigation into all aspects of their work, the processes around it and other questions raised. It is very important that we look at the issues in-depth.”

Mr Andersson has been contacted for comment.

Related Stories
University investigates PhD student’s paper on masturbating to comics of ‘young boys’
Manchester University launches inquiry into ethical standards after document details masturbation sessions
From analysis to the latest developments in health, read the most diverse news in one place.
Miss Universe makes inclusive change by allowing mothers and married women to compete in pageant
The new rules will take effect for the 72nd Miss Universe pageant in 2023
Miss Universe makes inclusive change by allowing mothers and married women to compete in pageant
The new rules will take effect for the 72nd Miss Universe pageant in 2023
I married young and I’m consumed with regret over all the sexual experiences I’ll never have
I enjoy sex with my wife and wouldn’t change my home life for anything, but I can’t stop thinking about…
Ryan Giggs made his ex-girlfriend a slave to his every need and demand, court told
Ryan Gigg’s ex-girlfriend told a court yesterday she realised she was being “lured” into an affair with the former footballer,…
One place to find news on any topic, from hundreds of sites.
Game of Thrones star Sean Bean’s views on sex scenes might be rational, but they’ve stirred up controversy
Did nobody give Game of Thrones star Sean Bean a heads-up to keep his views on sex scenes to himself?…