Posted by ed on June 30, 2010
Posted in our body | Tagged With: body image, penis size |
Almost every man in our culture is concerned about the size of his penis.
I remember the scene vividly even though it was over 30 years ago. It way my first high school PE class. This was back in a time when we were FORCED to change before class and shower afterward. I remember PE because it’s where I (and I assume most men) learned about locker room behavior. I learned to secretly check out the other guys and compare their penises to mine. Every guy does it and we all hope we don’t get caught!
Every man, of any sexual orientation, checks out other naked men. Most of the time we’re looking for one thing and one thing only: how big is he compared to me? The thing many of us don’t realize is that this isn’t a fair comparison. When you’re looking at someone else you’re looking at a slight downward angle. When you’re looking at yourself you’re looking almost straight down. These aren’t the same angles; accordingly, you have a different perspective looking at yourself compared to looking at someone else. Keep that in mind the next time you sneak a look!
I’ve worked with men who have concerns about penis size. (No, not all of these men were concerned about their penis being too small – more on that later.) The thing to look at is does this part of your body give you pleasure. Does it feel good? Does it give your partner pleasure? In other words, rather than looking at the size of your penis, take a look at its function. Be happy that your penis makes you and your partner happy.
I’ve also worked with men who complain that their penis is too big. Many of these men find it difficult for others to see them as men; rather, their experience is that of a person attached to a large penis. Many of these men experience popularity but that popularity is only due to their penis – not to who these men are as people. One man recently told me, “I’d actually like for someone to see me and get to know me as a whole person – not just my penis.”
As long as we view our penis as separate from ourselves as men, we’ll continue to experience shame around this part of our body. When we look at this part of the body just like any other part of the body and see ourselves as an integrated, whole person the shame begins to go away.
Posted by ed on June 26, 2010
Posted in our body | Tagged With: genital shame |
Most writing on genital shame is focused on women. Yet, I find genital shame in many men too. Genital shame takes many different forms but I’ve noticed some similarities. First of all many men have a distanced relationship with our genitals. We often treat our penis as separate from the rest of our body. Some of us even give a name to the penis. How many other parts of the body are named? This distance, even when done in a humorous way, increases the distance and detachment from our genitals.
Sometimes these names are an attempt to acknowledge erection concerns. Sometimes it does seem that our penis has a mind of it’s own. Most guys have had that experience of getting uncontrolled erections. We’re embarrassed about being called in class if we have an erection. Then, later in life, we wonder where those erections went. We spend the first half of our life running away from erections and the second half chasing after them! The comon theme is that we blame our penis.
Many of us had experiences that our penises are “dirtier” than the other parts of our body. We don’t notice when a little body absent mindedly rubs his arm. Yet many parents get quite upset if a little boy absent-mindedly (or deliberately) starts rubbing his genitals. Yet, we are aware that it feels good and are confused why there’s so much fuss when we rub “down there.” Much of the time, the “Don’t do that, that’s dirty” will only come from mom or dad when he touches himself in one particular spot. Most little boys don’t see their testicles and their penises as entirely separate entities. By the time a boy is six or seven, he’s probably learned from his family that his genitals are dirty. We learn to keep this part of our body concealed and hidden.
Of course, the big issue is around penis size – more about this for the next post.
Posted by ed on June 25, 2010
Posted in coaching | Tagged With: letting go |
I’m writing this after a harrowing experience that’s also reminded me about an important lesson in letting go. I’m in Illinois for my brother’s wedding. Getting here was an ordeal.
My partner and I arrived early at the airport to check in for a flight. The terminal was in absolute chaos. There were people standing about everywhere and few people to assist everyone. I was asking where to go to check in the bag and kept getting pointed in different directions. After running around for quite a while to check in the bag we finally found the right place. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to check the bag.
We then went from line to line and ended up missing the flight. We ended up on standby. Ugh! After going through and not getting on 4 more flights, we were beginning to get real concerned. I was wondering if we were going to make it for the wedding. I noticed myself having a hard time letting go and trusting that we would get there.
At the 5th flight we attempted, there were 4 people who didn’t board the plane. Hmmm, maybe we would get on this one! With less than 5 minutes to go before departure one person went running toward the gate to get on the plane. We were called to the gate to wait for a seat. This is when I really had to focus on letting go of my agenda and trusting that the right thing would happen.
Eventually we did get on the plane, the doors closed and we took off.
I was reminded that I have such a hard time letting go. I was very frustrated that I wanted to do something to control or change the situation, but there was nothing I could do.
Letting go is an important practice with our bodies too. Many times we want to control the situation or control the experience. When we’re trying to control the experience, we’re not experiencing it. I’m constantly reminded of the importance of letting go.
Even when I don’t want to!
Posted by ed on June 17, 2010
Posted in masculinity | Tagged With: masculinity |
There’s a trend in advertising that’s really bothering me lately. The theme is the dumb, incompetent man rescued by the smart woman. I’ve noticed this theme in many advertisements lately.
This got me thinking about all the stereotypes we have about ourselves and how we’re supposed to behave as men. Of course, there are the common ones like we’re not supposed to have emotion or cry. There are other assumptions that we put upon ourselves. A common one I see is around our sexual energy. We often believe that we’re supposed to always be ready and willing for sex.
Of course that’s not true, yet we continue to perpetuate this misconception on ourselves A simple way to help with this is to develop the practice of being present – listening to your body and really noticing what it is that you want.
The opposite is also true. We often do think about sex a lot. When we’re in that mode of high sexual energy presence also means that we become aware of this powerful energy and accept it. Acting on it as your other commitments allow and celebrating that energy rather than trying to force it away or become ashamed of it.
Posted by ed on June 6, 2010
Posted in our body | Tagged With: erotic energy, listening |
I see a common theme in many men that shows up as a gap between what our head wants and what our body wants. Usually this comes up around sexual activity – our head wants to be strongly sexual yet our body isn’t quite there. More often than not, we drag our body along and the experience is often less than satisfactory.
Often this behavior is due to fear around aging – we become concerned because our erotic energy isn’t what it used to be and we think we have to force it. Erotic energy comes in cycles – sometimes we feel it strongly and other times it’s just not that strong. I think the problem is because many of us experienced a time in our life (teens and 20′s) when this energy was very strong. We have a hard time believing that it’s OK to have less than 100%.
I invite us to listen to where our energy is and honor ourselves where we are. For example, spend 3 to 5 minutes breathing and meditating. Ask yourself how would you rate your erotic energy on a scale of 1 to 10. Be honest! If you’re aware that you’re a 3 then be a 3. If you’re aware that you’re a 3 but feel you should be a 10 just note the gap. There’s no need to do anything about it.
Then engage in activity (or not) based on where you really are. That activity may be asking your partner just to be held. It may be a nice, slow massage. A wonderful erotic activity for when your energy isn’t that high is a slow genital massage. Ask the person giving you the massage to let you be soft – you don’t need an erection for this. You’ll be amazed how pleasurable it can be!
On the other hand, if you’re a 10 then fully be a 10. Get moving! Get sweaty! Make noise and enjoy the feeling. If your partner isn’t at a 10 with you then give yourself permission to have an encounter with yourself. A quick wank probably won’t do; give yourself full permission to experience erotic energy as a 10.
As you gain practice listening to your body you’ll begin to notice the cycles of erotic energy. That noise in your head wondering why your energy is low will begin to fade because you’ll know that it’s all part of the natural cycle.
Posted by ed on June 1, 2010
Posted in masculinity | Tagged With: masculinity |
I’ve really been thinking a lot lately about masculinity. At the same time, I can’t define it. I’m reminded by the 1964 statement from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart when he tried to explain what is obscene, by saying, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced . . . but I know it when I see it . . . ”
My current working definition of masculinity is about the same as Justice Stewart’s definition of obscenity. I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it. I’d also add that I know it when I feel it. There’s something magical about someone who is comfortable in his masculinity yet doesn’t overdo it. I like a guy who just is who he is and doesn’t have to demonstrate, project, compensate for or justify anything!
Since I’m having such a hard time stating what it is, let me spend some time with what it isn’t. Masculinity has absolutely nothing to do with gender. Gender more related to outward presentation and anatomy; even these two things don’t correlate in everyone! Masculinity has nothing to do with body type, looks or age. Masculinity has nothing to do with what we wear, the car we drive, or how we make a living in the world.
Masculinity is about certain qualities. For me, masculinity qualities are about integrity, openness, independence, responsibility and achievement. Yet, the paradox is that these qualities aren’t the exclusive realm of the masculine. Assertiveness is a masculine quality, yet aggression (or unchecked assertiveness) is completely inappropriate.
I know I’m asking more than I’m answering here, but I’m really curious about exploring this area, so I’m sure there’s a lot more to write about!