I had an amazing experience recently; I grew a penis.
Ok. I didn’t literally grow a penis, but I grew one virtually, energetically and empathetically. I am a sex coach and participated in a men’s weekend Somatica® training, which is a somatic, body-based approach to sex and intimacy.
The weekend started with a powerful somatic visualization and embodiment exercise of what it would feel like to have male body parts.
I was humbled by how vulnerable I felt walking around with my sex on the outside of my body. I was unable to hide my desire and physically felt my body change when an attractive woman walked by me.
I was surprised at how I felt aroused every few minutes.
I am not a neophyte to feeling the sensation of male energy in my body. As a Tantra teacher, I am very much in touch with both my masculine and feminine energy and know how to harness and use my masculine energy in a physical setting. In fact, I frequently take people through interesting exercises so they can experience the difference between holding male and female sexual energy in their body; however, this was a new level of sensation and consciousness for me—and I found it was just the beginning.
For the rest of the weekend I played the role of a man and experienced all the pressures and inconsistencies that are foisted upon men in intimate and sexual relationships. I felt the socialization from birth—that boys are not supposed to cry or have emotions, and that they are touched differently than girls.
I realized that—unlike my female friends—men don’t really touch each other, beyond perhaps a pat on the back. And touch is so central, so core to human connection and intimacy. So it makes perfect sense that sex becomes one of the few places men can go to experience touch, intimacy and access to their emotions.
I think what surprised me the most is the incredible pressure that men have to perform and to take charge of a sexual encounter from beginning to end, even to ask a woman out on a date.
I understand better how it feels when the body isn’t in sync with desire and how frustrating and disempowering that is for a man, especially in the early stages of dating.
As women, we can fake getting turned on until we actually start to feel some erotic energy stirring up. We can even fake orgasm—though I don’t recommend it! But men don’t really have this option and feel so much pressure around having an erection—even during light foreplay and kissing—that the expextation alone can cause their penis to not perform.
Maybe because I have never been good at spatial relationships, (I am still terrorized to this day about those dreaded IQ tests), I found the ergonomics of being in charge of sex to be particularly challenging for me.
The process of moving a woman’s body around during sex and putting her in all sorts of interesting positions, seamlessly, is a lot harder than it looks. And yet, we expect men to be able to do this effortlessly, with no instruction!
I am the first to admit that I have shifting boundaries in new situations and often have a preconceived notion of what I am willing and not willing to do on a date; but I now feel for those poor men who have to navigate our shifting boundaries, often without much communication.
Fearful that they will cross a boundary, men hold back their desire wanting to be the good, respectful guy, when in fact most women crave to be taken by a man. My hottest experience that weekend was when I was thrown up against the wall with passion and desire, again and again and again.
While I know that this stereotypical male-in-charge role is not true for all men and all relationships, I have found this to be true in my own personal experience and that of my clients.
I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been socialized at a very early age to expect men to take charge, which has been reinforced by every romantic movie and chick-flick out there, or if there’s something biologically programmed within us.
The number one complaint I get from women is that their partner does not initiate sex and is too passive in the bedroom. I could go into a whole diatribe at this point about how women and society have—perhaps unwittingly—emasculated men, and how the feminine and masculine roles have become reversed. Suffice it to say we have screwed up royally and it is now all of our problems to fix.
So what are my take aways from this weekend? I will continue to give men permission to have their desires—to help them practice self-acceptance, self-love and learn how to survive rejection. I will teach them how to be passionate and powerful and confident with their lovemaking skills. I will help them heal the wounds that we have inflicted on them and give them unconditional love, nurturing and even more empathy.
I will help women understand how to better communicate with men; how to help men experience their emotions and how to be mindful of the mixed messages we send—as well as clarify our own needs and desires.
Oh, and I think I will keep my vagina.
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Assist Ed: Kathryn Ashworth/Ed: Sara Crolick