T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 3
posted 08-11-2011 12:11 PM
I answered an advice question this week -- http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/male_bodies_vs_female_bodies_why_go_there-- that I think would be awesome to have a bigger discussion around here at the boards. Here are a few sections from that piece I think might be good discussion-starters: quote: It might also help to know that when people do studies about sexual satisfaction, things like reaching orgasm easily, or getting off a certain way aren't usually what people tend to rank as what's tops on their list of what makes sex great, and that includes people with penises. You can have a look at one of those studies yourself, if you like. This one was done by the Kinsey Institute this year, about long-time heterosexual couples, and it revealed findings like this: "What predicted overall [sexual] satisfaction? For women, key factors were relationship duration and their own good sexual functioning. But for men, there seemed to be a larger variety of contributors to happiness: longer relationships, good physical health (healthy men were 67% more likely to report being happy with their relationships than men in poor health), good sexual functioning and their [partner's] sexual satisfaction: a man's happiness rose 17% with each additional point he rated the importance of his partner's orgasm." So, let's figure, as is probably true, that you do have just as much erectile tissue as your buddies. Then let's say you can reach orgasm easily from oral sex and intercourse, and that you also got aroused very easily and reached orgasm as often as they (say they) do. What if you did have all that, but still didn't find all of that did much for you? What about times when you didn't want to reach orgasm quickly, but would prefer to savor everything that leads up to orgasm for as long as possible? Or times you wanted to enjoy taking time to become more and more aroused, and felt disappointed when you instead got super-hot really fast? What if a greater quantity of orgasm didn't mean a greater quality? If any of that seems unusual, know that there are folks who have been or are in those boats (and those folks come in all genders, not just one), and who don't feel "biologically fortunate," to have their bodies respond otherwise sometimes, or find that those things don't result in super-fantastico sexual bliss, or even in their most basic sexual satisfaction. What makes sex good for people just usually has very little to do with what genitals someone has. quote: As someone who has worked in sexuality for a substantial amount of time now and with large, diverse groups of people, one of the things I know is absolutely true is that there is no one gender of people who unilaterally has better experiences with sex or more sexual pleasure than another. I also know, with absolute certainty, that the idea that men have it made when it comes to sex and their sexual lives, or that all or most men are always or even often having the best sexual time ever isn't true. Those links up there will probably help you start to see that, too, but so might recognizing that how your guy friends are talking about sex and their bodies not only can't represent all men, what they're saying -- or how you're hearing what they're saying -- probably isn't as complete or true as it might seem. There's a lot we could talk about with that, so much that it's really the stuff of books rather than a single column. Like I said, many men are under a lot of pressure, especially from other men, and especially when they're younger, to be dishonest about sex. A lot of guys' and peer groups of guys' notions of masculinity are very tied up with a very limited range of what is and isn't acceptable with men's sexual desires and experiences. I'd also add that the grading curve often set by most cultures to evaluate what male sexual enjoyment is or should be is usually set within a very limited sphere. In other words, what "male enjoyment" of sex is can often be defined in such a limited way -- one far more limited than what it can be -- that it can be easier for men to say and feel sex is totally awesome because the criteria they're given for good sex is so skimpy. We see that with how the male sexual body is often defined: usually as just penis, and maybe testes, if they're lucky. We see that around how often just "getting sex" or ejaculating are set as all men want or need to feel sexually satisfied, two common goalposts which you can probably see would make sex pretty shallow or stale pretty quickly. Neither of those kinds of things are limited to men, of course. Women are often given way more permission to talk about what isn't satisfying about sex than what is, especially among other women. And women's sexual bodies are often reduced to nothing but breasts and orifices. The point is that if you have the idea that there's this no-holds-barred world for men out there when it comes to sex, I'd disagree, and if you think men aren't limited in their own ways, or in ways similar to how women are, this is another way to see that you and your guy friends probably have more in common than any of you recognize or acknowledge. quote: All of us have a lot of things going for us when it comes to sex and sexuality. What makes sex and sexuality comfortable, enjoyable or fulfilling for people usually has some common threads (and it's not about body parts), but those things remain very highly individual and situational. Sex is not anything close to being just about bodies or body parts. For sure, part of our experience with sex is often, if not usually, physical, but the physical is not something we can separate from everything else that drives, influences and otherwise plays a part in our sexualities and sexual experiences: the emotional, the psychological, the intellectual, the spiritual, the interpersonal; our whole life histories and specifically sexual histories, our ethics and values and belief systems and so much more. Sex is a lot like art: it's a means of self-expression, whether you share it or not. A sexuality someone really, really enjoys tends to be a highly original, thoughtfully-crafted piece of work, not a poster there are a million copies of or something that's clearly copying or reacting to another artist. One of the biggest parts of cultivating and creating a sexuality and sexual life that's what we really, really like and value tends to involve finding out what our sexuality is past the static of what everyone else's is like, or appears to be like. It also involves learning to move past generalizations, oversimplifications and surface presentations of sex, especially if, in our sex lives, we're going to be connecting with other people sexually as partners, where those ways of thinking can cheat more than just us. That's not something that usually happens overnight, it's often a long-term unlearning process. But it's a really important one. It's important with any partners you may have so that you don't limit your shared experiences or their own sexuality. And it's important for you so that you don't limit your own. No one is inferior or superior here. No one needs to be: one person with one kind of body enjoying sex doesn't mean another person without that kind of body can't, won't or doesn't, even if there's something one of those people has going on that the other does not. Everyone has a ton of things going for them, physically and otherwise, because sex -- when we do it right -- is about who we are, not who we're not.
Member # 49582
posted 08-11-2011 02:33 PM
Member # 74024
posted 08-11-2011 04:34 PM
I really like the part that compares sexuality to art. I think the more self aware and comfortable I become, that seems to be the attitude that is coming to light where I'm open to exploration and looking into all the different elements that create a satisfying experience. One creates art to express ones self but one expresses ones self for an array of satisfying emotional responses.
The response is visible in many stages but most satisfying when connected to each. The creation, which I feel is related to building a relationship; the observing which I connect to the actual physical pleasure; then, the memory left imprinted on the mind. These are just a few areas I found to be critically important and connected to a satisfying sexual relationship that also are not specific to either sex. As a corollary, I feel that sex and gender and the diversity that accompanies them add a diversity to sexuality that is overlooked many times. Different combinations of people building different combinations of satisfying experiences.
Member # 3
posted 08-11-2011 04:39 PM
Yellowwallpaper, I love the way you've just said all of that!
If we want to move this into discussion mode, maybe we could all talk about why we might feel the need to compare bodies like the person who asked the question was doing (who made pretty clear where that was coming from for her, but that might not be the why for everyone)? Or how, when we know better, or don't want to do that, we can move away from that while still so often inundated with social messages that do create those kinds of divisions and competitions?
Member # 74024
posted 08-11-2011 08:31 PM
Honestly I think that male pleasure is seen as more acceptable and understood in male dominated western culture, whereas female pleasure is foreign and unexplored. Which is silly considering how similar they actually are. I watched a documentary on movie censorship once called "this Film is not yet Rated" (I highly recommend it for tge questions it stirs up about censorship) which suggested that the movie "boys don't cry" was almost rated nc-17 primarily for the length of one of the orgasms had by a female character. I don't remember if they shortened tge scene or got around it by some other means, but I found it to be interesting evidence toward a sexual world based most if not excessively on heterosexual male interpretation.
Member # 3
posted 08-12-2011 04:00 PM
I remember that. Ugh.
And I agree with you, up to a point. I agree that *a* paradigm of male sexual pleasure is more acceptable and understood than, I'd say, all kinds of female or not-male pleasure and sexuality. But I'd say that that paradigm only represents SOME male experiences, or some portion of a larger sexual range of experiences, if you follow me. And that paradigm that gets the acceptance? It's pretty skimpy, I think, and doesn't serve a whole lot of men while also not serving women.
Member # 74024
posted 08-12-2011 05:38 PM
Oh I totally agree. I think the same gender binary exists in the bedroom that exists out of it. It certainly does not serve me well. I don't think it really serves anyone a hundred percent, your right