Monday, June 30, 2014

The Beauty Of Male Sexuality

There's not a lot of talk about male sexuality in a positive light these days. To be sure, there are a lot of ugly and terrible things that a poorly-developed male sexuality can cause, but why don't we have more examples of positive male sexuality, and what does a healthy male sexuality look like?

Current Cultural Attitudes And Obligatory Caveats

The current cultural narrative surrounding male sexuality is that it's a selfish, destructive, and greedy thing. It doesn't have to be that way, though. Male sexuality can be a powerful, positive aspect of your life if you choose to cultivate a healthy sexual identity! Before we get to that though, we need to take a look at some of the problems with our current cultural concept of male sexuality.

Men are often portrayed as ravenous lust-beasts who can hardly control themselves at the sight of bare skin. In fact, our most common tropes about male characters are that the ones who are sexual are usually the sleazy pick-up artist or the desperate but clueless forever-alone virgin. Men who have a number of sex partners are considered in two lights simultaneously. To some they are alpha-male players, an ideal to be admired and emulated. To others they're vile scum, deplorable deceivers that use women for their pleasure then discard them as objects. By the same token, a man who has only one or very few sex partners, whom they stay with for a long time is viewed as being less of a man, or "pussy-whipped," and I won't even go into the stigmas surrounding male virginity.1

And to be fair, these awful kinds of men do exist. There are pick-up "artists" who see women as little more than objects to be used and conquered, players who trick women into believing they care for them just to get sex out of them, and there's whole communities of men that feel entitled to sex from women and when they don't get it, they blame these same women for being "bitches" who jealously keep their sexuality to themselves.

It's mine.... My own...
photo credit: San Diego Shooter via photopin cc

So, naturally, a lot of talk about male sexuality comes in one of two themes. The first is that a man isn't a man unless he's boning every2 woman he sees, so follow these three easy steps to woo any woman, any time! The second theme focuses on what's wrong with the way a lot of men treat women sexually, defining things like Rape Culture and calling out entitlement mentalities for what they are. To be sure, I myself engage in a lot of the latter discussions, because it is important that we work on fixing the problems our society has with sex, consent, etc. But nobody ever really talks about what positive male sexuality looks like, or what it even means for men. In fact, every time male sexuality is discussed, it comes with the obligatory caveats about consent and respecting boundaries which, while important, tend to drown out the rest of the message. So, with the necessary mentioning of those issues out of the way, I want to focus in on positive male sexuality.

Defining Positive Male Sexuality

There are three main components to a healthy, positive male sexuality; Honesty, Discretion, and a genuine interest in his partner's satisfaction.

A man who has a positive male sexuality would not be ashamed of his sexual attractions, he would own them. In our current society, it's not generally acceptable to express attraction to anyone that's not considered conventionally beautiful. Our hypothetical role model would be unafraid to say when he's attracted to somebody who did not fit that narrow definition of beauty. Whether he's into heavier women, women who don't wear makeup, or even non-physical traits like bookishness, he would be unabashed in expressing his interest in anyone that he finds attractive, regardless of what features or characteristics are piquing his interest.

This is not to say that our hero would always be outspoken about his attractions and endeavors, however. While he wouldn't be afraid to talk about what he finds attractive or experiences he has had, he would also have the tact to keep those subjects to himself unless prompted in a respectful context. Even then, when relating experiences he would maintain discretion about his partners and share only what details are necessary to convey his point. When listening to other people talk about sex, he would not pass judgment on them for their experiences and/or preferences, provided that they do not involve non-consensual, illegal, or harmful activities. By the same token, he is honest with himself and others when it comes to the breadth of his experience and his ability to perform sexually. In other words, he would handle the topic of sex maturely.

When it comes to actually engaging in sexual activities, our Romeo would be a skilled and considerate lover. Foreplay would not be considered an inconvenience to be barreled through as quickly as possible, but a process to be enjoyed in and of itself as the sexual energy is built. He would communicate his own desires, but also listen to his partner's. In fact, communication is an incredibly important part of sex, as we'll talk about later. There would be as much attention given to his partner's enjoyment as to his own, and pleasing that partner would be important to him. Our man would be willing to take direction and try new things for his partner's enjoyment, provided they did not cross any of his own reasonable boundaries, and would enthusiastically perform every role he engages in. He also would respect any boundaries the other person has, and adjust or stop what he was doing based on how his partner responds throughout the process. This man would also realize that his own climax does not necessarily mean that they are done engaging in sex, and would continue giving attention to his partner until they are both satisfied.

Man and woman in bed
Ready for round 7?
photo credit: jbhalper via photopin cc

Ultimately, a man that has a positive sexuality, is a man that celebrates and owns his sexuality because he recognizes that it's a beautiful, powerful thing.

Benefits Of Having A Positive Male Sexuality

A man who embraces his sexuality enjoys a number of advantages. By becoming comfortable with sex and his relationship with it, a man frees himself from a ton of anxiety and cultural hang-ups that can hinder him from connecting with other people. Because he doesn't have or has learned to deal with those anxieties, he has less to worry about and can feel confident in how he conducts himself sexually. This confidence makes him more attractive to others, and thus more likely to find partners that he can share the gift of his sexuality with.

Man with present box on crotch
'Because he's wise enough to know when a gift needs giving...'
photo credit: John Carleton via photopin cc

In addition to being more comfortable and confident, a man with a positive male sexuality will also be a much more desirable partner in bed because he provides a lot of pleasure to his partners. These partners are then much more likely to want to return the favor, so the man himself derives more pleasure from the experience. In other words, having a healthy sexual identity actually leads to better sex all around, and when you have better sex, there's a good chance that you'll be having sex more often.

Even beyond these advantages, having a positive sexuality is a beautiful thing. We're so inundated with pornographic depictions of men who just pound away like machines for hours but don't actually seem to be enjoying themselves. The partners in these depictions rarely speak, and if they do it's comically-bad dirty talk. Real sex is much more intimate, exciting, and beautiful than that. The experience shared between two partners who are genuinely enjoying their time together is indescribable.

Building A Healthy Sexual Identity

Alright, so we've talked about what positive male sexuality looks like, but how does a man build that kind of sexual identity while avoiding the problems that necessitate all those caveats at the start of this article?

The first thing a man needs to do to establish a healthy sexual identity is to be honest, and without shame. There's no shame in having no sexual experiences, few of them, or plenty of them. A sexual experience is just that, an experience. You don't feel shame if you've never fixed a car before, and you don't feel shame if you've fixed several of them. So why would you let your sexual experiences, or lack thereof, cause you shame?

Why is honesty important? Well, the first step in building a positive sexuality is to identify what attitudes and behaviors are holding you back, and to do that you have to be honest with yourself. If you can't admit that you're just not into something, or that you're REALLY into something that's culturally taboo, then you're going to have an extremely difficult time establishing your sexual identity in a way that's going to work for you, and it will be obvious to other people that you're not actually comfortable with the situations you'll find yourself in.

Man holding strange object
You want me to put this where??
photo credit: thorinside via photopin cc

Ok, so now that you've committed to being honest about your thoughts, feelings, and expectations, it's time to go exploring. Most men never take the time to get to know themselves, so they never really identify what their preferences are. They don't take the time to try different techniques when masturbating, or applying different textures or pressure to different parts of their anatomy. A lot of guys also only focus on the shaft of the penis, completely missing the potential pleasure they might get from stimulating other parts of the body. If you want to be a skilled lover, you have to be able to communicate your preferences to your partner, and you have to be willing to take direction when they communicate their preferences to you.

And that communication is key. Just as in other aspects of relationships, if you're not communicating during sex then there's going to be a constant tension that spoils the fun as you both try to figure out what works for the other person. It's absolutely essential to keep an open line of communication before, during, and after sex. Let your partner know that you are concerned about their satisfaction and want to give them an enjoyable experience. Reassure them that you have no problem respecting their boundaries and want to focus on the things they do enjoy. Don't be afraid to say something like "Do that again, a little lower" or "I'd really like to try X position, if you're into that." Similarly, if your partner gives you direction, it's not a referendum on your ability, it's encouragement to do more of the things they enjoy.

Woman orgasming
Oh yeah... Just like that!
photo credit: germeister via photopin cc

Even beyond simple direction, talk with your partner! It's difficult for anyone to talk about sex and express their needs, so make an effort to make them feel comfortable giving you feedback, and give gentle direction of your own! Banter is an incredibly powerful tool for building that kind of interaction, and if you can navigate making little jokes as you go that don't insult the other person it can build up the emotional intensity. I'm a firm believer that if you don't have to stop at some point because you're both laughing too hard, then you're not doing it right. Sex should be fun!

It will take a lot of time and effort to work out your boundaries and work through your negative perceptions, but in the end it will be worth it. The trick is not to rush yourself and dive into anything you're not comfortable with. If you want to establish your sexual identity in a way that works for you, then you have to be willing to put the time and work into making it personal to you. Just don't forget to enjoy the ride along the way!

The single greatest way to improve your sex and personal life is to adopt a positive, healthy sexuality. By rejecting the stereotypes and toxic cultural messages, and adopting a more open, honest, and communicative approach to your sex life, you'll not only make your partners happier, but increase the enjoyment you get out of sex too.

1 ...Yet.
2 Conventionally attractive.

1 comment:

  1. Firstly, great blog.
    Regarding a man’s sexuality, I find it interesting that it’s presented as such an active process, something that has to be done and demonstrated. Rarely do I notice in cultural media an appreciation for a man’s innate sexuality—usually it’s his charm, athletic ability, or artistic prowess that makes him sexual. Of course, this is tied up to the old sexist idea that women’s bodies are beautiful (and rarely more) while men’s bodies are tools. Now, obviously many women (and other men) can enjoy the view of a male body but receiving that feedback is something a man has to get out there and pursue.
    I’m married now, and this has actually caused me more anxiety over my body and dress, as they’re now the only sexuality that I have to offer. Actively demonstrating my sexuality to anyone but my wife is out of the question, and cultural roles don’t really promote outright approaches from women to men, so now I feel as if my sexual presence has been dampened. I’m not at all unhappy in my marriage, but I still want to feel like I’m visible and all, so being aggressively fit and well-dressed feels like the only way I can DO sexy.