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He Comes NextThe Thinking Woman's Guide to Pleasuring a Man
By Ian Kerner
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Ian Kerner
All right reserved.
Beneath His Armor:
Inside the Male Body
Sex has a language all its own. You know that old saying, "Sometimes the best defense is a great offense?" Well, it just doesn't cut it. When we talk about sex, sometimes the best defense is, in fact, no defense at all.
Picture this: A guy gets up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and slowly winds his way through a dark room cluttered with furniture. One hand is out in front of him as he gropes for the bathroom door and light switch, but what do you think the other hand is doing?
Protecting his genitals.
Sounds obvious, right? Men protect their privates. And why shouldn't we? After all, nobody wants the family jewels getting chipped.
But what if I told you that this idea of self-protection goes far beyond a simple reflex and is, rather, the key to fathoming the inner recesses and dark corners of male sexuality?
Allow me to elaborate. Men's genitals grow outward. From an early age on, boys intuitively protect them. But over time, this instinctive desire to protect manifests itself as a permanent sense of inwardness, a physical "pulling in" that ultimately extends to the entire pelvic area. (If you don't believe me, the next time you're on a dance floor, take a look at the guys around you. They're all arms and legs, as if they're doing the "Dance of the Missing Middle." No wonder Elvis was anointed king.)
Over the years, I've talked to countless physical therapists, chiropractors, as well as dance and yoga instructors, all of whom concur that the adult male pelvis is frequently in a state of tension. All of these professionals, in one way or another, work with guys to help them "open up" -- sometimes to help manage back pain, sometimes in the course of facilitating recovery from an injury, and other times just to get them through that first dance at their wedding reception without looking like Frankenstein.
As a sex therapist, my first goal is to help you open up his pelvis, so he can experience sex in a way that's less inhibited and more sensual and exciting.
But this sense of pulling in is more than just physical.
Men are shrouded in layers of protection -- physical, emotional, psychological -- that find a nexus in the pelvis, but permeate throughout the body and mind. In this sense, every man is a knight in shining -- or not-so-shining -- armor.
Now I know what you're thinking: Hold on a minute. Protection? Please! I'm the one that could use some protecting -- every time he pushes my head down and expects me to open wide and say, "Ahhhh."
But that's exactly what I'm talking about. For most men, sex begins and ends with the penis and rarely extends beyond it. From a fear of having his testicles rough-housed to sensitivity around the perineum (the area between the testicles and anus that is rife with nerve endings and shields the male G-spot) to a nobody-touches-me-down-there attitude about his butt, the male sex experience is one that's controlled, circumscribed, and the living embodiment of uptight.
Some of these protections are physiological and involuntary -- like the "cremaster reflex," which is triggered when you touch his inner thigh. The testicles literally pull up and in. But many of these are largely conscious and psychological in nature.
The journey to, and through, manhood is very much a journey of learning to stay in control. As R. Louis Schultz, M.D., wrote in his seminal book, forgive the pun, Out in the Open: The Complete Male Pelvis:
To live in society, we all require a degree of control. Too much control, however, and we can become automatons. Control is always being right. Control is not letting your feelings influence your life. Control is not letting the joy of life be a goal. Control is not expressing your feelings. Control is being neutral or neuter. Control is not being sensual. Control is lessening the enjoyment of sex. Control is not being aware or responsive to the feelings of others, since you are not aware of your own feelings. Control is always being on an even emotional plane.
I quoted this passage at length because, even though Dr. Schultz's astute observations are based on his experiences as a physician and deep tissue massage expert, I've too often heard in counseling these exact complaints from women about men: "He's disconnected from his feelings;" "He won't let go; he keeps everything inside;" "We have sex, but we don't make love;" "He won't talk about sex; he walks away the minute I bring up the conversation;" and so on and so on.
Dr. Schultz continues on the subject of control and its physical manifestations: "To achieve such control is not to feel, to become numb. This can apply to the entire body and is especially true in the anogenital region. Protection begins by pulling in the offending penis and anus."
Later in our discussion, when we talk about the male mind, this area -- the anogenital region, or complete pelvis as Dr. Schultz has dubbed it -- often figures heavily in sexual desires and fantasies. Although it's heavily guarded and sometimes taboo, the pelvis is ultimately a region that signals abandon and capitulation, an area of letting go and surrender to which men want to succumb, but are timorous. Beyond the penis is a whole new world of erotic pleasure to discover and explore. But, unless he's a Chinese contortionist, it's completely virgin territory, the physical equivalent of the Forbidden City.
So let's take a look at the complete pelvis, and why -- for both physical and psychological reasons -- its various parts are subject to layers of protection.
Commencing our journey at the penis, the part that gets the most attention is the glans, or head. This soft, fleshy area swells during arousal and is replete with sensitive nerve endings. From the ridge of the corona to the underside of the frenulum (which many men consider their "sexual sweet spot"), the glans is indubitably the most physically sensitive part of a man's body.
Excerpted from He Comes Next by Ian Kerner Copyright © 2006 by Ian Kerner. Excerpted by permission.
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