My introduction to the penis was unceremonious and pretty typical of a five-year-old: I will show you mine, neighbour boy, if you show me yours. By 13, my girlfriends and I successfully came up with all the ways to say penis from A to Z. I'm still trying to remember what we used for the letter "x."
Throughout my youth, I was both fascinated and jealous of the relationship men had with their penises. Real men did, but good girls never. No wonder Freud called it penis envy.
As a result you could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out men are just as uptight about their penises as women are about their vulvas. It's just a different kind of uptight.
A man's very identity is wrapped up in his penis. It is both the visible evidence of his virility and his ultimate power symbol. Every known society has shrouded the penis in some form of hero worship. Therefore, if a man is not up to the "social standard" with his penis size, his hardness, his giddy-up, or his durability during sex, he is made to feel less than.
Not surprisingly, then, the size of a man's penis becomes one of his life-long super big insecurities. I have counselled too-many-to-count men, explaining that Mother Nature made the vaginal canal about the same length as an average sized penis -- 5 to 7 inches. It is a made-to-fit order. However, talking to these men is like talking to a brick wall.
To be fair, the only time a man gets to see another man's erect penis is by watching porno movies. These porno penises become the average guy's unrealistic penis role models. The irony is: men who have large penises complain to me how women gasp -- not in pleasure, but rather in dismay when they first set eyes on his organ.
Then there is the "showers or growers" complex. When men are walking around naked in the locker room supposedly not looking at one another's penises, there are some men who are larger when flaccid: "showers." Other men have the "acorn syndrome" or are "growers," which means they are smaller when flaccid. However, when erect, all these penises are all about the same size.
How about penis wording? We use the word impotent, meaning "without power," to describe a man who is unable to have or sustain an erection. In addition, have you ever considered that there is no such thing as a sexy semi-hard penis? Our whacked-out belief system perpetuates that, when there is no erection, there can be no sex.
Men are somehow hard-wired to believe that, if they do not get a "rock hard" erection like they did when they were 17 there is something wrong with them. Think of how many million Viagra prescriptions were given out last year. The truth is: as a man ages, so does his penis. It takes a little longer for him to get erect, it becomes flaccid more easily and it takes longer to reach ejaculation.
How about the myth that a real man's penis never gets nervous, anxious, angry or tired? It somehow springs to attention at a moment's notice, and never becomes flaccid during sex.
Temporary impotence happens to every single man at some point. If he is not feeling sexy, the hydraulics will probably not work. Plus when a man's penis is not receiving direct stimulation during sex, it probably will go temporarily flaccid -- because he's concentrating on other activities.
Here are some other penis pet peeves of mine.
Penis Pet Peeve #1
I used to be offended that men could openly touch, scratch, yank, grab, and adjust themselves in public. I now feel sorry for men who have this obtrusive thing that constantly needs scratching, yanking, and adjusting.
Penis Pet Peeve #2
I resented that men could write their name in the snow. I now realize that, as they write, they will experience shrinkage -- resembling a button on a fur coat.
Penis Pet Peeve #3
I thought it unfair that people sympathized with the penis having a mind of its own. Then I recalled a boy having a spontaneous erection during gym class. We gals could not take our eyes off his pants. I am sure 20-plus years later, the boy is still mortified.
Penis Pet Peeve #4
And it really is too bad that, as soon as a man drives a nice car, the size of his manhood comes into question.
Gosh, that 5 to 7 inches of flesh sure has a lot to live up to. Hopefully everyone can become a little more realistic in their expectations of it.
In closing, I want to answer the burning question on everyone's mind: why do so many men name their penises? Would you want to be bossed around by somebody you didn't know?
It's too easy for us women to convince ourselves to settle for less. We're so helpful and accommodating, so eager to please and afraid of rejection that we're quick to give up the things we need, including when it comes to sex. What we need to see is that doing this will leave us chronically frustrated. While it's true that every relationship requires a certain amount of compromise, going without the things that we really need just doesn't work. We'll end up unhappy in the relationship or resentful toward our partner. The bottom line is, we need to know what we can't live without, sexually, and what we just can't live with. We ignore these non-negotiables at the expense of a fulfilling sex life.
If you can't ask them for what you want in bed, you shouldn't be sleeping with them. Good sex happens when we feel safe and at ease. If we're afraid to ask for something or to tell our partner that we don't like something, sex will never be more than mediocre. This second tip follows from the first one, in that once we identify what we want and don't want, we have to express these things clearly. It's unfair to expect our partner to be a mind-reader and "prove" that they care by somehow knowing what we want without our having to tell them. Healthy sex comes out of healthy communication.
We need to be in touch with our bodies; with what feels good, what feels not so good and what feels wrong. We also really need to stop judging ourselves in terms of our weight and our shape. Only a superficial dope would give us a hard time over our imperfections. If someone makes us feel bad about our physical selves, this is more a reflection of his inadequacies than of our own. Our negative self-talk has to stop. The running commentary on how fat we are, how much cellulite or how many wrinkles we have is guaranteed to kill the mood, often before it even starts. Feeling good about our bodies is crucial if we're going to let go and enjoy ourselves. Being physically self-conscious will keep us from experiencing the joyful abandon of great sex.
In the bad old days, some women were led to believe that the way to get a man to toe the line is to offer sex for good behavior or withhold it when the man has displeased them. Most of us today recognize this as hateful behaviour and a recipe for disaster. Men don't want to be controlled or punished, especially around sex. They don't want to be made to feel like little boys. When we're hurt or angry at our partner, we need to share our feelings with him in an adult way. We can even say that we're too upset for sex, right now. What we mustn't ever do is make him feel like we're deciding when he gets to have sex, based on whether he's been "good" or "bad." On the other hand, using sex as a reward turns us into sex objects and makes sex into a commodity for our partner to "earn." It's no longer two people being intimate or enjoying each other. Commodifying sex makes it into a business transaction and our bodies then become objects for trade.
We might love Fluffy or Rover, but they don't belong in the bedroom when we're being intimate. Our pets are very territorial and could get jealous or want to play, too. Dogs might bark or even growl. Cats might jump onto the bed and start walking around. We can avoid these disasters by remembering to shut the door and leave our four-legged friends outside.
Sex is about connection and intimacy, but also it's about having fun. It can be mind-blowingly great or occasionally, things can go wrong. Having a good sense of humor about sex will keep things in perspective. Being able to laugh at ourselves and at the comical aspects of sex will take the pressure off the whole experience. We might love and adore our partner, but we don't have to be so serious about making love to them. Humour relieves pressure and is a great way to connect.
The best sex is the kind in which each person is trying to please the other one. The sharing in sex is one of the things that make it great. It can be technically amazing, but when one person gets the impression that the other person really isn't there with them, it can ruin the whole experience. What makes someone a fantastic lover is not their technical ability or their repertoire of moves but their attentiveness and their efforts to make their partner happy. When both people show that they really care about meeting their partner's needs, sex becomes something wonderful.
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