Pets are by far the best type of housemate. They don't leave pasta sauce all over the microwave, they love you unconditionally, and they don't talk. But sometimes they also won't take a hint. Like when they're in your room, you want to have a mazz, and they won't leave. And you're left with a dilemma: Do they know what I'm doing? Does it even matter if they know what I'm doing? Maybe if they face the other way… but still, is that weird?
Like always, we hit the streets of Melbourne to get some answers.
VICE: Hey Grace, do you think it's OK to masturbate with a pet in the room?
Grace: I think overall, yes. Pets aren't that aware of what's going on, like for instance, my cat always thinks it's a game.
Right. Go on…
It actually happens all the time. I used to try and do it sneakily when she was asleep at the end of the bed, but the problem is, if there is a vibrator under the doona, she thinks it's a toy and then she'll start pouncing on it. There are also times when she'll crawl up onto me and paw at my face to check if I'm OK because she can hear me breathing heavily.
What do you do when that happens?
It depends how lazy I'm feeling. Like if the door is already shut and she's in there, then I really can't be bothered getting up and kicking her out. It also depends on how much time I have. If I have the house to myself and it's an extended session, then I'll lock her out, but if I've got five minutes to knock one out in the morning, I'll just let her stay in there.
Do you think she knows what's going on?
I think that she's a lot more privy than she should be. She knows that something different is happening. Like when I have sex, she often tries to get involved. Like she'll start pawing at my shoulder and want me to pat her, which doesn't really bother me, but it bothers my boyfriend.
At which point do you put her out? What's the limit?
Eye contact. If she looks me in the eye, she's out.
Why is that the limit?
Well I wouldn't want a person staring at me when I'm getting myself off. It's kind of like someone watching you getting undressed. It's a violation of privacy you know. If they're just sleeping or doing their own thing, it's fine because they don't really know what's going on and you can ignore it.
What do you think Sebastian? Personally, I wouldn't go for it.
Why not? Masturbating is very intimate and private. I wouldn't like to be around anyone or anything while I'm doing it, and that goes for pets.
There isn't really a way to know if they understand what's going on, so is it more just about how you feel? Yeah exactly. They might not know, but I do. Also there's a chance they do know what's going on. Dogs for example, they have such a powerful sense of smell, they must know when sexual stuff is happening. They'd be able to pick up on it.
Are there any exceptions to this? Are fish better than dogs? No not really, I don't think it matters what kind of pet they are. I don't even think I'd be ok with fish in the room. I just wouldn't feel comfortable having them around.
Tra Mi, 23
So yes or no?
I think yes. I don't think it feels too voyeuristic. Unless they are up on the bed with you, looking at you.
So it's more about proximity?
If the the cat was over in the corner of my bed, sleeping, then I think it's fine. Dogs are a bit different though. Cats are cool just doing their own thing, but I feel like dogs are always wanting a pat and wanting your attention… and that'd be weird.
So it depends on the type of pet?
Yeah, you definitely have a deeper connection with a dog or a cat. If it was a fish I probably wouldn't give a shit.
How would you deal with them if they jumped up on the bed right before you finished and looked you in the eyes?
I think if I was having sex and that happened, it'd be funny because sex is usually a fun and hilarious time, so we'd just finish. But masturbation is a solo, intimate thing. I think I'd feel a bit more intimidated by their presence. I'd probably save it for another time because I'd be too weirded out.
Hey Erika, do you think it's OK or not OK?
Well I've personally had a bad experience.
I'd like to hear about it.
I'd just gotten a new bed, and my dog was in the room, which I thought would be fine. But then he started barking and going crazy and then my dad came in to see what why he was barking at. Luckily by then I'd stopped, but it can be risky you know.
Can you imagine a situation that it worked out better?
Yeah, like if the room is dark, it's fine. But if there's eye contact or something, that is a no-go zone. I also wouldn't be thinking about my dog being in there with me. There's no way I could do it if he was on my mind.
Masturbation is a pretty personal thing. Does it bother you that there's another living thing in the room?
Yeah it does bother me. Especially because they can't talk about it and I'll never really know how they feel. You know when my dog started barking, I've always wondered if I was upsetting him. Like why did he get so angry and jump out of his bed and start running around? I'll probably never get the answers I need unfortunately.
How do you feel about your pet being in the room while you jerked off?
I think the general notion is fine. But personally I wouldn't.
Can you tell me why?
When you look a pet in the eyes, I feel they are reading into your soul and saying "I know what you did," so I would probably prefer not to.
Would it change things if they weren't looking you in the eye?
I think so. If they were just in the room it would be fine. Just no eye contact.
A lot of people have mentioned eye contact today. Why is that do you think?
I think looking at them helps to personify them a bit. I just feel like they'd have seen too much after that and I'd feel weird.
Would your relationship with your pet change if they saw you?
In the long term, I don't think so. But I might look at my pet differently for a little while, and I just don't need that.
Follow Maggie on Twitter