Mapping the Male Body: There’s More to Men’s Pleasure Than In-Out-Repeat

Pleasuring men? Men’s sexuality? What’s there to talk about? It’s pretty basic, after all. In, out, repeat if necessary, right?

Oh, please. Spare me. Spare them.

For the past few decades, and with good reason, feminist/humanist-minded sex educators have increasingly focused on women’s pleasure. Not because it’s more important than that of men, but because it’s historically been underemphasized, even discouraged. Where we were once happy to have any kind of orgasm, we now fret about what kind we’re having, if we’re having them often enough, if we should be squirting more or less, whether we should romance the clit or the G-spot, if we ought to try something kinkier or even (gasp) something more vanilla.

But what about men? What about their sexuality? What about their pleasure in this changing world?

Contrary to popular fiction, men are not all grunting, scratching Neanderthals who would be just as happy fucking a piece of ripe fruit while drinking beer, eating pizza and flipping through 105 channels of hockey, boxing and football as they would making love to a beautiful woman. Okay, some of them might. But the vast majority of them just aren’t that interested in ripe fruit or boxing.

Just as it has long been a gross oversimplification to claim that women have little or no interest in experiencing sensual/sexual pleasure, it’s an equally gross oversimplification to assume that men are selfish sex pigs looking for a warm place to rest their penis until dinner’s ready. If nothing else, it would be nice if the male sexuality urban legend-making machine would decide whether men want sex every 15 seconds or if that’s how long they’re supposed to actually engage in the experience. Or are we to assume that the male human sex drive is analogous to that of a field mouse or a rabbit?

This is not to say that many men don’t have a quick sexual response time (zero to erection in 20 seconds) or that they don’t want to satisfy the impulse frequently — sometimes at inconvenient times. But those are matters of scheduling more than anything else. The average work week isn’t exactly custom-designed to enhance the stamina and energy of sex partners or provide them with copious free time in which to indulge in sensual frolicking.

Although a good deal of our sexuality is certainly hormonally driven, much of it is also strongly influenced by social and cultural pressures and training. As women continue to abandon unhealthy ideas about what are “appropriate” sexual behaviors and appetites, I suspect straight and bisexual men will increasingly get a run for their money in the bedroom. But it’s not going to happen overnight, not for individuals or for the species. Since we’re running on human time regardless of what we’d like to think, we might as well learn to enjoy it.

Which leads us to a very pleasant way to explore that elusive thing known vaguely as “male sexual pleasure.” Although many people seem to expect their partners to possess at least some degree of telepathy, it’s rare that one intuitively knows all there is to know about what gets another person off or turns him or her on. Reading sexual how-to books and having civilized conversations with friends and lovers over cups of exotic coffees or teas are certainly valid ways to gain information but, let’s face it, nothing’s quite as effective as a hands-on approach to education. Whether it’s the first or the 50th time you’ve touched your lover’s body, there’s something to be learned from the experience — and plenty of fun to be had by everyone involved in the learning process. Hot for teacher, indeed.

Getting to know the erotic topography of your lover’s exquisite form is as simple as running your hands along one of your favorite body parts — and then continuing on to less familiar regions. Start with the familiar and, at a pace that feels good to both of you, boldly go where you may never have gone before. Most importantly, don’t feel like you have to make a big deal out of the fact you’re going to spend an extended period of time running your hands all over the nude body of your lover. Feel free to watch a video together, discuss a pleasant topic. No, not work. No, not bills. No, not the million and one chores and responsibilities lying in wait for you (unless you can eroticize it or keep it mellow). Listen to favorite music, stretch out together in front of an ambient fire or just curl up quietly in bed together.

Notice which parts of your lover’s body are sensitive to touch, and what kind of touch arouses them. For instance, the bottoms of the feet and sides of the abdomen can be ticklish when touched lightly. A firmer grasp can be soothing or even exciting. Experiment with a variety of intensity levels on a variety of body parts. Perhaps most importantly, don’t be afraid of exerting pressure when crossing paths with your partner’s penis. Although it’s always a good idea to start with light touch and progress gradually to more intense touch, regardless of the body part, it’s important to not be afraid of the penis. It will not bite, nor will it snap off without warning. Many men, even those who do not consider themselves to be particularly kinky, enjoy having their penis and testicles stroked, squeezed, tugged, patted and even twisted by firm, confident hands.

Keep in mind that the head of the penis, whether it is circumcised or uncut, is not simply a blob of tissue with a single nerve. It is a multitude of sensation receptors reacting to touch in succession. Thousands of happy little nerve endings tingling with excitement. As with new touch on any body part, check in with your lover periodically and ask what he is enjoying most and what he’d prefer less of. Take requests. Make offers.

The nipples are another often neglected part of male anatomy. Although some men get only minimal pleasure from having their nipples touched, many experience tremendous erotic sensitivity when they are kissed, licked, sucked, nibbled or pinched. Again, work from light touch to heavy and find the range that works best for the nipples at hand. Likewise, even men who are not interested in receiving insertive anal play often enjoy having their buttocks massaged, kissed, bitten or rubbed against. A playful hand can produce quite satisfactory results when you slide it between the cheeks, move lightly in a circle around the anal opening, and then either gently or firmly caress the balls. Don’t rush unless it feels good to do so. The goal is pleasure and intimacy, not how far or how deep or how many times anything can be done.

Sensuality is not a contest — or a test of any sort, for that matter. It is an ongoing exploration and sanctuary and we can move as quickly or as gradually as we please. There’s no penalty if you don’t connect all the dots, either. Having your hand caught suddenly by your lover while he shudders in unexpected orgasm after you touch him in a wonderful new way hardly sounds like a deterrent to me.

Good Vibrations

Good Vibrations is the premiere sex-positive, women-principled adult toy retailer in the US. An iconic brand and one of the world's first sex toy shops to focus specifically on women's pleasure and sexual education, Good Vibrations was founded by Joani Blank in 1977 to provide women with a safe, welcoming and non-judgmental place to shop for erotic toys. Good Vibrations has always included all people across the gender spectrum, and is a place where customers can come for education, high quality products, and information promoting sexual health, pleasure and empowerment. Customers can shop Good Vibrations' expertly curated product selection across any of its nine retail locations or on the website, where they can also find a wealth of information pertaining to sexual pleasure, exploration and education.

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