Thursday, 29 August 2013

Sex: Are men lousy lovers?

On August 2, 2013, The Good Men Project published the article "How Losing My Manhood Made Me a Better Man" by Michael Russer. The author describes the end of his 24 year marriage, the last 11 being sexless, and how subsequently he is diagnosed with prostate cancer. After surgery to remove his prostate along with radiation treatments, Mr. Russer finds himself rendered completely impotent.

While up to now, the story is as horrifying as it could be for any man, Mr. Russer goes on to talk about meeting his next life partner and how Erectile Dysfunction led him to heights of intimacy he had never experienced before. "ED gave me the opportunity to slow down as a lover and really focus on my partner instead of taking care of my hard-on. Making love has become an exquisite process, not a goal." He talks of two to four hour love making sessions where his partner climaxes a minimum of five times. "I have made the choice to define my 'manhood' not by the size or stiffness of my penis, but instead on how well I can deeply connect with and please my partner in a context of true emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy."

This seems like a story with a happy ending. I feel confident that if you are a woman, you will enjoy reading this article. If you are either a man or a woman in a relationship, I am sure you will be intrigued by this idea of shared closeness. A question comes to mind, however.

What happened before?

I'm not talking about Mr. Russer's marriage. I am talking about Mr. Russer's experiences with women, about his sex life, about his love making. He is describing how his life has been transformed, about how he has discovered a level of intimacy with his partner he had never known before. What were his experiences before this epiphany?

On March 15, 2011, The Good Men Project published "The Blessings of Erectile Dysfunction" by Hugo Schwyzer in which we hear about Mr. Schwyzer's inability to get an erection at the tender age of 17 and the subsequent episodes in his life.

Some women were understanding; some weren’t. One woman with whom I had a one-night stand said, after a prolonged amount of foreplay did not result in a “workable” hard-on, “Christ, I always knew you were a faggot.” Ouch. And other women became anxious, worrying that this was evidence I didn’t really want them. That only increased my desperation, making the problem worse.

Like Mr. Russer, he discovers that there is more to mutual pleasure than penis-in-vagina sex. Being flaccid and unable to penetrate his partner meant rethinking his sexuality and switching from technique to sharing pleasure.

Sex is not an athletic competition. We are participants in the creation of mutual pleasure, not solitary performers on a track or in a ring. And for a lot of us, the only way to really learn that lesson is to lose the one thing we were taught was indispensable.

In The Mood
For as long as I can remember, I have had it pounded into my head that as a man, it is my responsibility to get a woman "in the mood." I am initiating sex. I am coming to the table already in the mood. My partner, however, is not necessarily in the mood. I can't just "go at it." I have to warm things up.

In 1974, I read The Hite Report on Female Sexuality in which the author states, after interviewing over 5,000 women: 70% of women do not have orgasms through in-out, thrusting intercourse but are able to achieve orgasm easily by masturbation or other direct clitoral stimulation. (Wikipedia)

As I have written elsewhere, a session of sensual touch and massage coupled with oral sex responds quite well to the two points I just made: getting your partner in the mood and not relying on intercourse for pleasure.

I laud Mr. Russer for his discovery but what was he doing before?

Mr. Schwyzer says basically the same thing: ED showed him aspects to sex other than intercourse.

What's going on?
From my blog Sex Ed: Betty Dodson: educator, author, pro-sex feminist:

Widely known as a pioneer in women's sexual liberation, her fame has come from both advocating masturbation and conducting workshops for more than 30 years where groups of women would talk, explore their own bodies, and masturbate together.

I quote several emails posted on Ms. Dodson's web site from women who say they have never experienced an orgasm.

27 and Never Had an Orgasm - Jun 6/2009
I am 27 years old, never had an orgasm. I'm married 5 years with 2 kids.

What? Married with 2 kids? Never had an orgasm? How is that possible?

In my blog "Sex: What are the neighbours doing?", I wonder what's going on in the bedrooms of North America after listening to a HuffPost Live show entitled Ageless Sex in which several older people (over 60) talk about their sex lives. One gentleman, Ken Solin, a 68-year-old writer, describes having sex three or four times per week. I research some statistics on sexual activity and find out the averages are less than that with the surveyed people reporting they would like to have more. Mulling all this over, I then mention idly chatting with a guy I know.

So out of the blue, I turn to Gary and ask, "When was the last time you had sex?"

"We haven't had sex in three years."

Okay, this is where there is a big, I mean really big pregnant pause in our conversation. Holy cow. What? Here I am curious about Ken Solin's confession about having sex three or four times a week, knowing the averages from that sex survey, wondering about myself and my own sex life, and a guy tells me three years. Three years???

The flaccid penis
What does a flaccid penis mean? Hugo Schwyzer writes about one woman calling him a faggot. He talks about several interpreting his lack of an erection as him not being sexually interested in them. Is this indicative of a myth floating around in our culture? A man is ready, willing, and able twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. If a man isn't hard, there's something the matter with him. He has a physical problem (ED), he's jacking off to porn, or he's secretly gay. Just think about this turnabout: a guy has a problem getting or maintaining an erection and the woman interprets this as a reflection on her own desirability. His problem is now her problem and now he's got two problems to deal with. No pressure.

Do we all equate an erect penis to sex itself? Are both men and women caught up in the idea that an erect penis in the vagina is the ultimate and desired finale for any sexual act?

I have ofttimes heard it said that our culture has dictated certain behaviours on all of us without us necessarily knowing what's going on.

Women suppress their sexuality and men suppress their sensuality.

In suppressing their sexuality, how knowledgeable are women about sex? How participatory are they in the act? Are they caught up in the idea the man always initiates sex and he does so with an erect penis and the act itself is intercourse?

In suppressing their sensuality, have men ignored all other forms of sexual expression except penetration?

Our culture is slanted towards the puritanical and vilifies sexual expression. Can any of us, man or woman, be open and honest about sex and intimacy with another human being? In my blog "Erectile dysfunction or just not sexually aroused", I quote Dr. Marty Klein, sex therapist and educator:

Talking about sex is much more intimate than doing it.

A Curious Observation
Mr. Russer talks about love making sessions lasting two to four hours. Mr. Russer talks about his partner having a minimum of five orgasms. This is impressive. It seems like a remarkable union between the two of them and I am sure any woman would be swooning after hearing of such a tantric sexual nirvana.

Mr. Russer never talks about his own pleasure. How many orgasms does he have? Does he have any at all? He has had his prostate surgically removed. He has undergone radiation treatment for cancer. He has stated he is now completely impotent. He is now showing himself to be a sensitive, sensual, caring, and giving lover.

What's his pleasure? He never says.

The old saying goes: It is better to give than to receive. Giving is quite gratifying. But if there's no receiving, isn't his partner missing out on the gratification of giving? Doesn't giving sometimes mean receiving so your partner can experience the gratification of giving? Besides, if you had no taste buds - yes you couldn't taste anything - how much fun would it be to eat a meal with somebody who could taste? Can you still enjoy life only vicariously?

Final Word
I am not trying to criticise Mr. Russer. Some of us have to face traumatic life experiences and we do our best to deal with the situation: get tangled in a wood chipper and have your arm ripped off then have to live the rest of your life without a limb.

But I wonder about this epiphany Mr. Russer has experienced. As a man, as a lover, what was he like before? He talks about the end of a 24 year marriage, the last 11 years being sexless, he and his wife supposedly staying together for the sake of the kids. The gist of his article is that both he and his new partner have discovered a level of sexual satisfaction, a level of intimacy that neither one of them had experienced before.

I have read a great deal about dissatisfaction in relationships, romantic, marital, and sexual. The rate of divorce stands at 40% or 50% depending on the source of information. Two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women and the number one reason for divorce is spousal neglect. Yes, neglect. Why? What's going on? Yes, it takes two to tango and I'm sure it would be difficult to untangle just who's responsible for what but I have to ask if men are lousy lovers.

While Mr. Russer claims that his ED has actually helped his own relationship, he ends with the belief that other men and women can make a similar discovery about that exquisite emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy but hopes men can do so without having to lose their manhood like him. Amen. Let's not wait until we have a life-altering experience to learn that life is precious and that we should not wait to enjoy it.


I asked the opposite question here: Are women lousy lovers?

Aside: Hugo Schwyzer's personal life is in a mess right now, but his articles still have validity.

my blog: Erectile dysfunction or just not sexually aroused
... while erectile dysfunction can be a physical condition... Stress or anxiety, low self-esteem, marital or relationship problems, performance anxiety and even an unsatisfactory sex life can have an impact on a man's performance, that is, can leave a man not "in the mood". Not being in the mood is not erectile dysfunction; it's just not being "in the mood". Gee, where have I heard this before? (hint: women not being "in the mood")

my blog: Two-thirds of divorces are filed by women
In 1988, on average 61% of the time, the woman was the petitioner. If there were children involved, the stat was 65% and without children it was 56%. It was only around 7% of all cases where the husband and the wife together petitioned for divorce. This means that 93% of the time, it was only one spouse who petitioned for divorce. The table, dating from 1975 to 1988, consistently shows that women petitioned for divorce twice as much as men.


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1 comment:

PollyAnna said...

I feel quite sorry for Mr. Russer, because, well, orgasms are awesome. ;-)

I also feel a bit sorry for his partner, because though it is delightful to receive and five orgasms per "session" sounds good, there is something incredibly hot about bringing one's lover to the edge and then tipping them over it. It is physically AND emotionally satisfying to share in a partner's pleasure, and I feel bad for both of them that they don't get to experience that together, on both sides of their intimate equation.

As for myself, what I remember of my briefly revived sexual life ;-) is that witnessing a partner's pleasure in the process is part of the fun, and part of what "allows" me to let go. It is a powerful experience to feel not only my own pleasure, but to see the pleasure I'm bringing a partner.

Are men lousy lovers? Well, abstaining from sex in a marriage doesn't sound like being a good lover by any definition (not for him, and not for her either - no double standard). Some men ARE lousy lovers, and some men are fantastic. Same goes for women, though, right?

My ex didn't seem to notice if I had an orgasm, or make much of an effort at it. You can guess which category I put him in.

The bliss happens when two self aware people who are each comfortable with themselves and each other approach sex as playful (humorous, fun, lighthearted), erotic (sensual, chemistry), and connecting (mind-body-spirit). I think only a small portion of the population knows how to hit all three of those parts, and in my opinion it takes all three to have mind blowing sex.

The man for me will understand all of this....and I hope to God he doesn't have ED, because I have got some energy to burn and some lost time to make up for!