Bored, curious and horny during the first COVID-19 lockdown, 34-year-old Catherine Duffy, of Ireland, delved deep into the kinkiest corners of the internet. After countless searches, she stumbled across a "welcoming, sex-positive community" which described itself as "gooners" and "goonettes." Two years later, Duffy is a bona fide expert with her own kink education site, Whoreuro.
Before digging deeper, there's key terminology to learn. According to Duffy, a male gooner is someone who masturbates and edges constantly, and views porn as a passionate hobby. Some, but not all, of them masturbate only to porn and typically refrain from sex.
As for goonettes like Duffy, she described them as compulsive female masturbators and highly sexually active women who worship porn in equal devotion to male gooners. In Duffy's eyes, the term "goonette" is staunchly feminist.
"We're not bound by old-fashioned stereotypes. We wear the brands of 'whore,' 'slut' and 'bimbo' as a badge of honor," Duffy said.
Like edging, [gooning] involves masturbating until you're close to orgasm and then stopping yourself before the money shot.
There are, of course, trans and nonbinary gooners, too.
The practice they share in common is "gooning," masturbating yourself into a trance-like state. Like edging, it involves masturbating until you're close to orgasm and then stopping yourself before the money shot. Whereas edging usually lasts a few hours, some hardcore gooners and goonettes indulge themselves in near-constant masturbation for days, delaying that sweet, sweet climax to achieve the trance-like state.
"The longest gooning session I had lasted for three days," Duffy said.
Jordan Dixon, PsychD., a London-based psychosexual psychotherapist, described gooning as a "hypnotic, semi-meditative mental state, which a person can enter after prolonged masturbation which may have some edging involved." In her view, it's a distant, Western cousin of tantric sex, without the spiritual connotations.
You won't find any medical literature on gooning
Though there isn't much literature out there, Dixon referred to famed psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's concept of "flow" as a useful illustration of the mental state produced by gooning.
"It's a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter," Dixon explained. "You might have heard a surfer describe 'being at one with the wave.' It's like that, where nothing else matters other than what is happening right there."
Joanne (a pseudonym), a goonette in her 40s from Yorkshire in the United Kingdom, found the community after leaving a sexually repressed, 25-year marriage in 2019. Since then, she said she's had hundreds of gooning sessions. She agreed that gooning could be described as "edging as an extreme sport."
"When you're in the gooning state, it's primal sexual lust at its finest," she said. "I make noises I didn't even know I could make, shake like I've had 10 coffees and push myself to the limits. When I finally lose my edge and have an orgasm, it's powerful enough to knock me out and put me to sleep."
Gooners and goonettes are commonplace on Twitter and Reddit, where they share photos in subreddits such as r/GoonCaves. Here, they also bond over their shared "pornosexuality." Again, there's limited medical research on this subject, but Duffy said it refers to people whose main sexuality isn't an attraction to people of any gender, but primarily to porn.
There's a difference between pornosexuality and porn addiction
There's no real psychological consensus that porn addiction is a legitimate condition. In a 2019 article in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, researchers analyzed various studies related to online porn addiction. In conclusion, they outlined that key concepts related to addiction, such as tolerance and abstinence, are "not yet clearly established enough to merit the labeling of addiction, and thus constitute a crucial part of future research." People may self-identify as "addicts," but in clinical terms, the jury is out.
Another difference between pornosexuality and addiction is that gooners and goonettes are part of a kink community. They're not necessarily addicted to porn, but they enjoy the kinky thrill itself that comes from this perceived addiction to porn and masturbation. Duffy described it as the fetishization of porn addiction, whereas the act of gooning more specifically is tied into kinks around hypnosis, the element of losing control, and humiliation, the thrill of being helpless, due to either porn "addiction" or enforced edging.
That's not to say there aren't gooners who would classify themselves as porn addicts, though. There's an r/GoonerRecovery subreddit for people who want to stop their hardcore masturbation, and Duffy said she always directs readers to porn addiction resources if they need them.
"The fetishization of addiction is one thing, real addiction is another," Duffy said. "Gooning isn't about normalizing damaging behavior.
"When done properly, gooning is intensely hypnotic," Duffy said. "The few gooning porn sites that exist have dedicated hypno-porn sections, and it feels as though your mind is connected to and controlled by your genitals. Your reaction to porn is then dictated not by your brain, but by your genitals. You find yourself involuntarily making noises of raw pleasure in response to the porn you're watching."
Duffy also described humiliation as a very common theme.
"Some gooners love the feeling of being controlled and influenced to sink into depravity," Duffy said.
The pornosexual, gooning lifestyle comes with plenty of misconceptions, but it's not hard to see the appeal of masturbating yourself into a fevered, horny daze. In fact, it may even be beneficial.
"People who engage in activities that produce a 'flow' or 'trance' state tend to report greater overall well-being and feel happier than people that don't," Dixon said.
In other words, jerking off into a trance once in a while could be pretty good for your head.