Journal takes down masturbation paper after outrage

Sage says it is continuing to investigate article in which doctoral candidate chronicles how he ‘enjoyed’ provocative cartoon images of boys

August 15, 2022
The University Of Manchester
Source: iStock

A journal paper in which a University of Manchester PhD student describes how he masturbated to sexualised images of young boys has been taken down after its publication caused outrage.

Manchester and the Sage journal Qualitative Research are continuing to investigate Karl Andersson’s article, subtitled “Using masturbation as an ethnographic method in research on shota subculture in Japan”, which focuses on a manga comic genre depicting sexual encounters involving young boys.

The article, originally published in April, provoked widespread condemnation when it was widely shared online last week. Some academics challenged Mr Andersson’s research claims for “masturbation as a method” and questioned the lack of any mention of ethics approval by his university or publisher. Others highlighted that possessing fictional images of minors in a pornographic context is banned in the UK, although it was unclear where the research was conducted, and different rules relating to cartoons apply overseas.

A publisher’s notice where the article originally appeared online says that Sage was “continuing” its investigations into how the paper was published. “We will consider closely all guidance from the Committee on Publication Ethics and ensure that any actions taken comply with COPE standards,” the notice says.

In a separate removal notice, Sage adds: “Due to ethical concerns surrounding this article and the social harm being caused by the publication of this work, the publishers have now agreed with the journal editors and have decided to remove the article while this investigation is ongoing in accordance with COPE guidelines.”

In the open-access paper, Mr Andersson explains that he decided to “masturbate only to shota” for three months. Those experiences led him to conclude that “it’s impossible for your brain to be blank during masturbation”. He has not responded to Times Higher Education’s requests for comment.

Speaking previously, Alice Sullivan, professor of sociology at UCL, said: “Wanking is not a research method; it is just wanking.” She warned that “masturbating to images of young boys and passing it off as scholarship normalises paedophilia”.

Manchester had previously said that the publication 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,” a spokesman said.

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Reader's comments (1)

I read 'More Chinese style censorship' applied to young person expressing challenging but unsanitary subjects. He is addressing a genuinely concerning trend in 'hentai' pornography. I think the boy is been punished for honesty. In an increasingly censored reality.