Singer-songwriter Marika Hackman released her Sub Pop debut Any Human Friend in August, landing atop Paste’s list of the month’s best albums. Your latest excuse to revisit the acclaimed release is Hackman’s must-see (though probably not at the office) new video for “hand solo,” which takes a playful approach to glorifying female self-pleasure while also seriously examining the shame many female-identifying people associate with masturbation.
“hand solo” contains what Hackman calls her favorite line from Any Human Friend—“Under patriarchal law, I’m going to die a virgin”—but it’s author Susie Bright’s words that open the video: “Behind every erotic condemnation there’s a burning hypocrite.” It’s the first of the Sam Bailey-directed video’s many shots across the bow of the stigma surrounding female masturbation, which is here represented as near-universal: Common objects we see all around us, including everything from a seashell and a cup of coffee to a pink clothespin and the “creased sheets” Hackman sings of, act as simulacra of the female body, and they are touched every which way, with no apologies. Hackman herself makes an appearance halfway through the video, facing the camera as she sings, “When I go blind, will you keep in mind / I had fun, I got it on, endorphins”—meanwhile, a disembodied hand caresses her eye. The carousel of touched objects only expands from there, encompassing musical instruments and a man’s wallet, the Pentagon and the London Eye, a hurricane and eventually the Earth itself—female sexuality is all-encompassing, the video shows, and doesn’t suddenly become shameful simply because it’s taking the form of a “hand solo.”
After the planet’s climactic explosion, though, Hackman shifts gears—as in the Dr. Jekyll-like comedown after an orgasm—offering a scroll of female-identifying fan-submitted stories about times they’ve felt the shame stemming from the self-pleasure stigma. The social double standard is on agonizing display here, presenting the effects of this shame from angles some viewers (particularly male ones) had likely never thought to consider. A fan identified as “N24” ends the video on a high note, responding to the widespread notion that “female self-pleasure isn’t a thing”: “Fuck that. Female self-pleasure rules.”
Hackman says of the video in a statement:
I wrote “hand solo” as a bit of light-hearted relief, a wank anthem for women everywhere. I loved the idea of playing on old wives’ tales about the dangers of masturbation and pushing the boundaries about what is socially acceptable. I met Sam and we came up with this playful, tongue-in-cheek idea about hands all over the world masturbating on everyday objects, and even places, and eventually the world. The hands were directed by the wonderful Evie Fehilly, a sex educator who runs sex-positive workshops in London at the famous sex shop SH! Despite the video being quite fun, I wanted to make a serious point at the end, after the world explodes in its orgasm, that masturbation is still for many women perceived as something shameful and embarrassing—the moment of shame after the ecstasy. We asked for any female-identifying people to anonymously submit their experiences of shame relating to masturbation, and we received so many heart-breaking and heavy stories. I hope that when people see these accounts, they can relate and realize that there’s no shame in masturbation.
“For more resources on female self-pleasure, head to sh-womenstore.com, omgyes.com [and] amappointment.com,” the “hand solo” video’s YouTube description instructs.
Tonight (Sept. 27), Hackman concludes her U.K. headlining tour in support of Any Human Friend with a sold-out London show. In October, she heads to North America, kicking off a 17-show run with a stop on Paste’s Atlanta, Ga., home turf before heading across the pond for a series of December Europe shows.
Watch the “Hand Solo” video below, and find Hackman’s 2014 Daytrotter session and tour dates further down. You can revisit our late-August conversation with Hackman here.
Marika Hackman Tour Dates:
26 – London, U.K. @ Islington Assembly Hall
11 – Atlanta, Ga. – The Earl*
12 – Durham, N.C. @ The Pinhook*
13 – Washington, D.C. @ U Street Music Hall*
14 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ Boot & Saddle*
15 – Brooklyn, N.Y. @ Elsewhere*
18 – Allston, Mass. @ Great Scott*
19 – Portland, Maine @ Port City Music Hall*
20 – Montréal, Que. @ Bar Le ‘Ritz’ P.D.B.*
21 – Toronto, Ont. @The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern*
23 – Columbus, Ohio @ Ace of Cups
24 – Ann Arbor, Mich. @ Blind Pig*
25 – Chicago, Ill. @ Sleeping Village*
26 – Milwaukee, Wis. @ Back Room at Colectivo Coffee*
28 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ 7th St. Entry*
01 – Seattle, Wash. @ Neumos*
04 – Oakland, Calif. @ Starline Social Club*
06 – West Hollywood, Calif. @ The Roxy Theatre*
08 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Bitterzoet
09 – Brussels, Belgium @ Botanique-Rotonde
11 – Hamburg, Germany @ Häkken
12 – Berlin, Germany @ Privatclub
13 – Cologne, Germany @ Artheater
14 – Paris, France @ Point Ephemere
05 – London, U.K. @ O2 Forum Kentish Town
(* – w/ Girl Friday)