Ecology has always been intimate. Toxins such as persistent organic pollutants pervade our fat cells. Our foodways affect the climate. Endocrine-disrupting, gender-bending synthetic chemicals in plastics and other substances lead to lower sperm counts. Most sex toys are made from petrochemicals. The decision to procreate, or how many children to have, is the single most impactful environmental decision people make in their lives.
There’s no reason why the energy transition on the horizon should be any different. And now — with what appears to be an actual product, but might just be a clever promotional campaign — a pornography company seems to be on the verge of harnessing an infinitely renewable resource for cheap (but oh so dirty) energy: masturbation. For those keeping score, add (male) onanism to other activities that will generate minuscule amounts of renewable energy, such as playing soccer, bicycling, walking and dancing.
With what PornHub describes as “the first wearable tech that allows you to love the planet by loving yourself,” users will be able to generate small amounts of electricity by masturbating. The band, which is in prototype, would contain a valve with a small weight inside that moves backwards and forwards between two coils when the wristband is worn during repetitive activities. PornHub does not explain exactly how this kinetic motion would be turned into electrical power, but the designs suggest a similar technology to that used in electromagnetic charging devices. You would be able to plug phones and perhaps computers into the device, which goes by the name WankBand. “Every day, millions of hours of adult content are consumed online, wasting energy in the process and hurting the environment,” says PornHub’s promotional video. “We decided to do something about it.”
Is the WankBand:
A) A sign that environmental concerns are entering all sorts of unexpected nooks and crannies?
B) A bizarre case of “green marketing”?
C) A reflection of the (in this case quite literal) phallocentrism of the culture of technology?
D) Another example of the allure of the techno-fix?
E) All of the above?
I vote for E. Watch PornHub’s promotional YouTube video about the WankBand here and decide for yourself.