The Ins & Outs of Penetration. ~ Zoë Kors {Adult}

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Men are built to penetrate, not only anatomically, but also emotionally and energetically.

Not too long ago, I was putting my five-year-old son to bed. We were indulging in the practice of finding creative ways to express our enormous love for each other. I told him I loved him so much my heart was going to explode. He took that in, grinned, and in a moment of inspired one-upmanship said, “I love you so much, my heart is going to explode right into your mouth so you can swallow it.”

On another occasion, in a genuine burst of affection, he said, “Open up your love hole, Mom, and let me fill it up.” Terrified by the loss of innocence I might detect, I asked nervously, “Where exactly is my love hole?” To which he matter-of-factly (and to my great relief) replied, “Your heart!”

My son’s expressions of love and affection are devoid of sexual meaning for him. He has no idea about such things, but the energy behind his words got me thinking. I often observe my son moving through the world with ferocious enthusiasm—on the soccer field, on his scooter, the way he hurls his whole body at me when he wants a hug.

It’s beyond how he thinks or acts; it’s who he is. And it’s how he loves.

Neuroscience tells us that that a small almond-shaped structure, deep in our anterior temporal lobe, called the amygdala, plays a big role in our emotional reactions and emotional memories. It is widely accepted that women have smaller and more efficient amygdalas, which enables them to have more emotional memories and engage in what scientists call “ruminative thinking.” There are other gender-based differences in our brains. The right and left hemispheres are connected by tissue called corpus callosum, and men have less of it. Women spend more time acting and speaking from both sides of their brains. Men think and act more linearly, leaving emotion and intuition out of the equation.

According to Simon Baron-Cohen, Cambridge University Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, “The male brain is programmed to systemize, while the female brain is taught to empathize.” Perhaps the most obvious difference in the brains of men and women happens in the womb. A female brain in utero is bathed in estrogen; a male brain in testosterone.

Largely in an effort to understand the nature, causes, and prevalence of autism, Baron-Cohen conducted multiple studies looking at the amount of testosterone a baby is exposed to in the womb and then followed them through their infancy and early childhood, evaluating their capacity for human connection. About testosterone, he says, “The more you have of this special substance, the more your brain is tuned into systems and the less your brain is tuned into emotional relationships.”

All this is not to say that men don’t empathize and women don’t systemize. Each of us is a unique combination of all aspects of the human condition. But there is something compelling in organic gender polarity that has inspired books like John Gray’s, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex, and has made the work of David Deida author of The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire so wildly popular. All we have to do is look around to see and feel how men are more equipped to slide through the world, moving in and out of situations and relationships systematically, without getting bogged down by their emotions.

When I described my heart exploding with love for my young son, the vision was that a warm effervescent blanket would unfurl from my chest and wrap him, contain him and ultimately taking him in. While men are driven to penetrate, as women, it is our nature to want to be filled up by something other than ourselves. The outward expression of this is the way we nurture—whether it’s our children, our lovers, or the world in general. We invite people into our warm embrace.

The passive version of this expression is our desire to be taken, to be penetrated. As women, we hold so much. Most of us have a complex matrix of things and people to take care of—responsibilities. And in the hierarchy of needs, we usually put ourselves last. At the end of the day, we long for a lover to take us away, to force us to let go, to bring us beyond reason—to fuck us senseless.

In the tradition of Tantra, the Divine feminine quality is Shakti—fluid energy, manifestation, and change. The Divine masculine is Shiva, or pure consciousness—the solid, unlimited, unchanging observer. Shiva has no desire, he is the blank screen onto which Shakti projects her desires in full Technicolor drama. When a man and woman come together in alignment with this paradigm, it can be a powerful way to connect not only to each other, but also to explore ourselves and own nature as an expression of this universal principle. Our longing to be fucked senseless is rooted in the desire for Shiva to penetrate the maelstrom of our own dynamic energy and propel us into another state of consciousness—an argument could be made here for the benefits of having “mind-blowing” sex.

The trouble with all this penetration is what happens when it’s not happening.

For a woman, there is a feeling of completeness when a man is inside of her (or a baby, for that matter). She walks around with a hole in her physical body (her vagina, her womb), but also in her subtle body, in her heart.

The question is: How do we cultivate a healthy emptiness?

It is easy to confuse the absence of something as a loss, the space as a vacuum. It is tempting to try to sate the hunger as if we are starving, while we resort to filling ourselves up by eating, smothering our children, or engaging in co-dependent relationships. Ironically, the more we try to fill ourselves up, the lonelier we feel.

In her song, Down to You, Joni Mitchell declares, “Everything comes and goes, marked by lovers and styles of clothes. Things that you held high and told yourself were true, lost or changing as the days come down to you.” Allowing the flow of life, of lovers, and of love requires some willingness to tolerate discomfort, but far less than the suffering that results from trying to fight it or to clinging to things past their point of completion.

Holding our internal space is a muscle that can be developed over time. Resisting the urge to fill ourselves up with something other than ourselves gives us room to connect with ourselves, to recognize our own voices, to feel our own desires. Relaxing into our inner space affords us the awareness of choice. It is a powerful place to feel sovereignty over who and what we choose to let in and out.

As Joni suggests, it all comes down to us.

When we learn to feel complete in our natural emptiness, to embrace the potentiality in the space, we begin to align with the natural cycles of life, birth, death and rebirth, in a way that makes sense of our true nature, as vessels, of life and love.

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About Zoë Kors

Zoë Kors is a writer, speaker, coach, and founder of The Big Libido, and other programs for women. She is committed to shifting the way we hold our sexuality, both individually and culturally, and to cultivating a sisterhood of wildly-expressed women. She lives in Los Angeles with her daughter, son, and dog. She can be found at ZoeKors.com, on Facebook and Twitter


28 Responses to “The Ins & Outs of Penetration. ~ Zoë Kors {Adult}”

  1. kara says:

    This is wonderfully written, personal and expansive. excellent piece, thank you very much!

  2. Jessica says:

    Fascinating and fearless discussion of the primal nature man and woman. The considerations of both female nature and reasons to be empowered by alone and "emptiness" were liberating. Thanks!

    • Zoe Kors says:

      Thank you, Jessica. I have grown to love the feeling of my inner space that I cultivate. Like the feeling of hunger when it JUST sets in, or the bottom of an exhale. All potential. Thanks for reading and for commenting.

  3. Allison says:

    Wow – perhaps the most brilliant thing I have read in a very long time. Very well-written, very true. You put to paper what I couldn't quite find the words for. Thank you!

  4. Tess Chiodo says:

    Wow! Brava Zoe. Love this. Will send along.

  5. Betty says:

    Well that's pretty hetero-normative. Just sayin. People can be penetrated in many ways, in many places. And some men just love it. Shiva works in mysterious ways . . .
    Sigh. I feel like the New Age movement is often way behind the actual evolution of consciousness about human sexuality.

    • Cory says:

      Thank you for saying this. I have generally found that Elephant Journal is entirely hetero-normative. If only this author knew some of the penetrating women I have known over my life time, the stereotyping might end. One day I would like to live in a world where archaic notions of sex and gender no longer exist–since they are notions and not really scientific but stereotyped and acculturated. It would be refreshing to see the "practical men" and "emotional women" stereotypes die a real, true death. Until that time, however, I have learned that most of the articles on this feed aren't really meant for me or mine.

    • Fin says:

      Thank you for voicing this, Betty. I too feel excluded with gender-confirmist heterocentric is espoused in these kinds of articles. It would be nice if queer voices were encouraged in this space more.

    • Annoyed says:

      Heteronormative, cisnormative, absurdly Eurocentric, and ultimately radically out of line with any responsible conclusions that can reasonably be drawn from the existing research on gender and sexuality as they relate to neuroanatomy/physiology. This is article universalizes an extremely specific point of view and then uses bad research to 'science-ize' its claims. Come on.

  6. Zoe Kors says:

    Thanks, Allison and Tess!

  7. Sophia says:

    I highly recommend the author looks into gender studies. People are not born with genders, they are socially constructed, as is sex to some extent. There are even more than two sexes. I don't think men or women are "programmed" to penetrate, and certainly no one is walking around "empty" because they have holes instead of phalli. The books she mentions are not exhaustive scientific research, they a pseudo-science at best. The more you investigate you will see the scope of the studies are pretty small. Over the past couple decades a slew of books like these have been published with the sole purpose of reifying heteronormative binary gender gender roles. Yes, males and females brains are slightly different, but it doesn't really make that much difference until you teach children their gender roles. Little boys do like weapons and are different from girls, does this mean they're "built for penetration"? Certainly not. What a projection! This is backwoods stuff, for sure.

    • Anna says:

      Thank you for getting there first, Sophia.

      I would add that the only compelling thing about the works of authors such as Gray and Deida is a desire for simplistic, black-and-white answers to a complex subject. How many times, and in how many ways, do we need to dismantle the ‘biology is destiny’ argument?

    • Zoe Kors says:

      Thanks for your comment, Sophia. First of all, I am not saying that anyone is walking around empty. I am writing about my own exploration of my emotional and energetic existence as a heterosexual woman. The article has resonated with many. I don't expect it to resonate with everyone. I acknowledge the huge spectrum of sexuality and all it's subtleties. And I invite you or anyone else to write about your experiences, thoughts and feelings. As far as mentioning the Gray book and the work of David Deida. I did not cite the work itself as a reference. I mention the wild popularity of the work as evidence that there is something compelling about organic gender polarity. That's all. It's an observation. It seems that almost all of the people who have objected to this article have made their own projections about penetration as something negative. I respectfully disagree with this statement, "Yes, males and females brains are slightly different, but it doesn't really make that much difference until you teach children their gender roles."

      • Fin says:

        FWIW, I take objection to this article and I don't find anything about penetration to be negative. Your wording in this article does not sound as if you are purely writing about your own experience, but as if you're taking your experience and seeking to apply it more globally – potentially seeking justification for it, which suggests to me that if anyone thinks perhaps you've internalised some of the 'penetration is negative' ways of thinking yourself.. In your choices framing this experience more broadly, you are putting an already common narrative out there as if it is the only valid option, and thus invalidating anyone who doesn't share your experience. As a white heterosexual cisgendered female, you're the recipient of a lot of privilege from our society – if you wish to share your experience without alienating people (which this piece does) then you should be more careful clarifying that you are speaking solely about your experience.

        • Cory says:

          Yeah, as a personal experience the writing is beautiful, but as a positing on "man" and "woman" it alienates to a very specific culture, assumes scientific backing with source that's highly limited. Any queer person realizes that most research on the "sexes" locks out entirely a large and silent portion of the population from any real quantifiable data. Lived experience very richly tells me that I don't need to wait at home to have my holes filled to be senselessly fucked by a penetrating man. It is very much natural that I find that disturbing and gross as a queer woman and so as just one person even I stand as data that flaws theories heteronormative and yet deemed as across the board true. But then I can understand what's not written for me; nonetheless I respect an author who admits that as such.

      • Betty says:

        I'm not objecting to what you had to say.
        I'm just pointing out that there's so many more ways.
        I think penetration is positive– All Kinds! Not just penis/ vagina.
        I'm projecting POSITIVITY onto all forms of penetration.

        A Sincere Salute to Penetration:

        Here's to penetration male to male; male to female; female to male; female to female;
        And don't forget the plethora of trans-iterations.
        All type of penetrations: penis, dildo, zuchini, barbie doll, pinkie and fist!
        In all types of places: mouth, vagina , anus, glory hole,
        and yes even soul.

    • Vyking says:

      I am glad someone did their gender studies. I found the article emotionally charged but lacking any scientific proof and/or proof of any kind to support its claims.

  8. Özge says:

    Really? This woman-man difference with some 'scientific' sauce, again? When will this stuff end in the society, for God's sake?
    Points go to Sophia's comment.

  9. Martin says:

    According to this article, men are emotionless, solid, unchanging, blank penetrators devoid of desire. I'm sorry, but I must disagree. What is being described is not a man; it is a sex toy.

  10. paige says:

    Those who have objected to the writer's very problematic notions of gender have been admirably measured in their objections. I feel quite angry about this, so am struggling to express myself clearly.
    Ms Kors, you cannot claim to be writing purely from personal experience when you use the phrase, "As women, we…"
    The essentialism is bad enough, but that claim (that you're writing only from your own heterosexual perspective) is baldly disingenuous. I urge to consider how the very sweeping statements you employ with such ease are exclusionary and saturated with privilege. The narratives we spin about gender and biology are powerful; to turn around and say, "It is just my experience," is to disregard what several reader have pointed out: that you are plugging into the hetero-normative narrative – you know, the one that posits heterosexuality as the assumed norm, and everything else as outside of this – that causes a lot of hurt and harm. It is the same narrative that justifies homophobia: "it is 'natural' for a woman to want to be penetrated by a man, for a man to want to penetrate a woman" – and so, by implication, every other expression of human love and sexuality is unnatural.

  11. Christina says:

    I am speechless., unable to articulate how this article resonates with me at this time.
    Thank you.
    Thank you.
    Thank you.

  12. Ed Fell says:

    Wonderful and articulate article. I read some of the 'comments' and would love to add my 2 cents to just us men. Take my 2 cents worth and throw it out; or invest in it and make it a million. For men…for most of the masculine gender we have not shown up in this world or for our male or female lovers with our Magnificence. Our linghams are an extension of our hearts; and our True Nature as men. Most have hidden this Greatness that we are. It is our job to penetrate, not just with our magic wands, but the essence of our masculine nature. Our whole bodies and souls can penetrate where our masculine medicine is most needed. Our purpose is nothing less than penetrating and making a difference in our world; and in our lovers. To me, Zoe does not take this far enough. Stand, Penetrate and Be bold in a safe and growing way. The time is now. Let's give our Penetrating GIFTS!

  13. Debra Gail says:

    Brilliant. I can relate to this on so many levels. And I understand where you come from. Maybe society does teach gender roles to an extent, but I believe that a large portion of that is programmed in our brains already. How else do I explain why my son consistently chooses cars, movies with plenty of action, and male-looking stuffed toys over gentler or feminine looking ones over every other option we’ve presented to him? Just a thought.

    Either way, thank you! You’re awesome.

  14. JohnH says:

    Thank you Zoe for your insight into tantric "emptiness". Our gender roles are both biological and sociological, but we have the potential for a full range of yin-yang energies. As a male, I instinctively resonate with your son's impulse to be assertive and penetrate. I too experience the yin feelings of empty, undefined potential. Instinctively I want to fill it with something, but if done too soon and unconsciously the moment is often wasted in addictive diversions. I am reminded of William Bridges' book, "Transitions", where he lists the steps of recovery from loss as "ending", "neutral zone", and "renewal". The neutral zone seems to be the most difficult for Westerners, particularly males. It is a time of disintegration, chaos and confusion. It is the Shakti moment of pure potentiality, what Deepak Chopra calls the "quantum moment" where we get to allow our yang ego to drown in infinite possibility. If we can allow ourselves to empty as you describe, we can begin to feel the the tugs from our deepest yearnings and desires. If not, we cycle back into our habits and addictions allowing our lives to remain constricted and tidy. Your words are deep and bold. You're a pure, powerful channel for Shakti. Namaste.

  15. Genna Ann says:

    There is a theology to our biology – inscribed on our very cells, is the truth of the beauty between man and woman. Men are "seed throwers" and women are the "embracers, internal." Our anatomy says it all! So sad to me, is how much PORN has destroyed this intimacy…..

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