Updated: Sep 1, 2022
I really love penis. As much as penis is centered all the time and everywhere, I feel like so many conversations are unproductive. Not informative. Not thought provoking.
I recently had a client who, upon arrival, said, “I never cum from head…” And while that sentence is certainly known to be a point of manipulation (with hopes the response to that is a person eager to take on the challenge) sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s the penis-owner managing their anxiety by attempting to (pre)manage yours. Sometimes it’s the penis-owner dropping a subtle hint; “you might put in all this work and I still may not cum and I’m just, kinda forewarning you cuz I have anxiety about the fact that up until this point I haven’t achieved an orgasm from something I’m told I ‘should’ achieve an orgasm from.”
I let him know I just want to make him feel good, that’s my only goal, and asked him was that sufficient for him. Once it was genuinely solidified that the session would be non-orgasm focused, we enjoyed ourselves anxiety-free. No matter what the result of that session was, neither of us had to perform or internalize. You see, penises don’t function like you think they do – getting and maintaining an erection, for example, is more complex than we’ve been taught. And the societal expectation that dicks are on BRICK 24/7 creates anxiety for penis-owners (even though cis/het men, specifically, are often guilty of perpetuating this and, if we’re being honest, are the origin of this obsession). Additionally, rock hard cocks aren’t always an indication of being horny; another confusing and ignored fact.
So, let’s start from the tip and work are way down, so to speak.
So, BOOM, the brain. The brain is responsible for all of this shit. The brain tells you when you’re turned on; it tells you what’s enjoyable and what’s painful; it directs the blood flow to make dicks erect; it communicates to the nervous system to create semen; etc. Although we believe the “natural” order of things is arousal, erection, ejaculation that’s not always the case. In fact, arousal, erection and ejaculation are three separate processes.
Arousal can happen with no erection.
Erections can happen with no arousal (anyone who owns a penis knows they are rebellious and get feisty at inopportune times).
Ejaculation can happen with no stimulation, arousal or erection.
Arousal and erection can occur but no ejaculation!
Once you begin to conceptualize these as separate processes, it’s easier to understand what’s going on with you or your penis-owning partner. The issue with being unfamiliar with this information is it simplifies a lot and contributes to stereotypes about penis-owners undoubtedly affecting how you approach them (or yourself) and how you make sense of things when they go “wrong.” Concluding that every dick you engage (lol) is going to respond the same way combined with the notion that we are responsible for our partners’ orgasms makes for a recipe for disaster. We (and this can apply to anyone but DEFINITELY to bottoms/cishet women) love to think our bussy is SO good and that’s why our partner achieved orgasm. We collectively love to believe this so much, that we place value in it; “they came quick” is BOTH an insult to your penis-owning partner AND a boost of your own ego – as opposed to an objective statement.
The flip side of feeling responsible and affirmed by your partner's orgasm is feeling shitty when they DON’T achieve orgasm (or further, when they are unable to achieve and maintain an erection). Instead of recognizing things happen and that shit isn’t always about us, we beat ourselves up and often direct our own hurt towards our partners, a la “you take too long to cum” type sentiments (which creates anxiety for our partners who then have internal dialogue about the meaning of, “not cumming quick enough,” among other things).
Unfortunately, there’s little incentive to unpack all of this because it means removing yourself from the narrative that you’re a bad bitch because you made a dick cum.
But the tea is …you’re not
You aren’t more valuable because a penis got hard around you or because someone achieved an orgasm because of or with you (I’m not sure that thought process is even grounds for a compassionate, ethical intimacy). While I typically have little sympathy for cis/het, penis-owners, having Sex Work encounters where men divulged their anxieties about erections and orgasms gave me pause.
During my most recent encounter, my client literally thanked me for my patience. The reality is, this conversation can benefit everyone for a number of reasons and is ESPECIALLY useful given the context of cis/het ego – cis/het men sometimes respond poorly to their penis’, “not being able to perform” because of however they make sense of the “I” statements and meanings attached to “under-performing”. The outcome can be violence.
Which brings me to the next point.
Penis-owners: there is work for you to do, as well. If non-penis owners agree to learn about the process of Le Dick, your role is to begin unpacking some of the shit you internalize. And perhaps you’re someone who has to do both. It’s important to start recognizing what your (dick) process is – ok, your dick is hard, are you aroused? What does this erection mean? That may sound silly but it’s insight. Or perhaps you’re in a scenario where you expected to have an erection but for some reason that message isn’t being relayed to your dick – did you ask yourself if you’re even aroused?
And further, what do you internalize when you think your dick isn’t operating how it ought to? What do you internalize when you ejaculate faster than usual or perhaps not at all? What does it mean to believe that every time your dick is hard, you have to nut? Would you benefit from clearer discernment and awareness of your body and penis? How might you better communicate with said awareness?
The advantage of unpacking this, especially with your partner, is it opens up new conversations and (sexual) opportunities. When my partner tells me his dick is hard, I ask him if he’s horny (because maybe he’s not!). And one time, he made a joke about wanting to be inside me but not with the goal of nutting, just relaxing – how else would there be space for that statement to exist if it weren’t for our previous discussions about dicks and orgasms?
Moreover, it takes the pressure off of penis-centered activities. Sometimes it’s difficult to broach the topic of non-penetrative activities – I wonder if that would be slightly different when framed as giving penis-owners a break from dicking lol The beauty of having sex with someone who doesn’t have a penis is exploring sex and intimacy, generally. It seems any time there’s a dick in the room, the focus is only on that, even to its own demise. Removing the role of the dick (lmao) means leaving stressful expectations/anxieties for everyone at the door and making space for other types of play.