As of late, I’ve been rereading some of my old college textbooks (yes, I kept some of them), including the one from my Human Sexuality course. We never covered *everything* in the book, and I love learning more about the male and female bodies…In fact, I used this same book when writing my post about International Clitoris Week, and I was going to use it again when some form of “penis week” or “male genitals day” arrived.
Imagine my surprise when I did some further research and found that men don’t even have an International Penis Week. We have a Woman’s Month *and* an International Clitoris Week…but we don’t even have a single DAY to talk about the male genitals. Go figure.
Well, I may not be able to create a holiday single handedly, but I can damn sure write a post. So, without further ado, here we go. Time to learn more about the equally fascinating penis!
First, let’s start out with the basics of penis anatomy. There are 3 main parts to the penis: the head, the shaft, and the root. The shaft and head are what most people think of, as they are the external structures and are quite readily noticeable. (Duh.)
However, the root is important too, especially as this is where the penis attaches to the pelvic bones and muscles. These same muscles help to eject both urine and semen…so yeah, pretty damn important. The root cannot be seen, but it can be felt if the man presses up between his anus and scrotum while erect.
The shaft has 3 cylinders. Two of them (cavernous bodies) run side by side along the top of the penis and are what become filled with the most blood during an erection. The other cylinder (spongy body) lies underneath them, and while it also becomes slightly engorged, it’s more notable for the fact it contains the urethra.
The third part, the head, is also known as the glans. Depending on whether or not the man in question has been circumcised, the head of the penis may be covered with a foreskin, which acts as a protective “coat” to the glans. Though the entirety of the penis is sensitive and has many nerve endings, just about every man reports that the corona (upper ridge of the glans) and the frenulum (underside of the glans where it connects to the shaft) are particularly pleasurable.
Okay, so now that we know exactly what we’re talking about, how does this relate to a man’s sexuality?
Well, for one thing, a substantial number of men are concerned at least once in their life about size. The average length of an adult male’s penis is 5.5 inches, and the average girth is 4 inches. Some men (especially the actors portrayed in typical porn) have much larger ones, just as some men have micropenises (defined as being less than 3 inches in length when erect). Unfortunately, the majority of Western culture has kept the idea that Bigger = Better and has led to many a guy feeling inadequate or wondering if he’s truly “big enough” to satisfy his partner. What we *should* be doing is changing our culture to put more emphasis on whether or not ones genitals are healthy, STD free, and react well when pleasured…not creating apprehension where none is needed.
Another aspect of male sexuality that doesn’t get touched on enough is that of the faked orgasm. The media will quite willingly talk for hours about how women need to fake orgasms to ensure their man’s ego isn’t hurt, but in our current climate of one-night stands men are starting to find a need for this as well. I’ve personally spoken to a decent number of guys who claimed to have faked an orgasm because they just weren’t truly in the mood for sex but didn’t want to have their sexual orientation questioned. Though it’s easier to fake an orgasm with a condom on, at least 2 men I knew in college said they successfully convinced their girlfriends that “they just didn’t cum a lot” that time to explain the lack of excess fluids.
Guys are under constant pressure to be sexual…after all, a “Real Man” is always ready to go, and would never turn down a chance for sex, especially if the woman in question is attractive or is blatantly offering her own sexuality. However, this is proving to be untrue on many fronts, possibly because women can now be the “chasers” in the sexual arena where previously the man was responsible for nearly all sexual advances. It will be interesting to see how the upcoming generation will deal with this. Will equality be realized or shall traditional gender roles regarding sex reign?
One more thing that I wish I didn’t have to mention about male sexuality is the fact that it is not inherently dangerous or perverted, despite it’s representation in the media as being constantly aggressive or demanding. Men, like women, have different sexual appetites…sometimes changing from one day to the next. Men can enjoy cuddling, erotic massage, romantic sex, and prolonged foreplay as much as their female counterparts. Likewise, they can enjoy bdsm, power play, using sex toys, aggressive sex, and quickies. Wow, it’s almost as if individual men have sexual desires that are all over the place…just like individual women! It would be wise for society to recognize this, and stop making boys and men feel ashamed or scared of their natural desires and attractions.
All this being said, there are a few myths about the penis that should be cleared up.
1. An erection is only present when sex is on the mind.
Untrue. Again, just like women, men can experience erections or increased bloodflow to the genitals for a myriad of reasons. Medicinal side effects, nervousness, stress, intense workouts, or even driving along a bumpy road can cause erections in either sex. The hormonal changes during puberty are also culprits of unwanted “arousal”…be honest, how many men here were terrified of being called up to the chalkboard during class or had to deal with “morning wood” as they awoke? Women experience this too, but are lucky enough to have erections that are easily covered by typical clothing. There is also a condition (called satyrism, I believe) that means said man’s penis is constantly erect.
The important thing to remember is that physical readiness is not always an indicator of mental readiness, and partners should always have clear communication about whether or not both partners want sex. If you think your guy wants to get it on, but doesn’t respond to your advances…chances are he’s tired, sick, upset about something, or simply not in the mood. Respect his needs, or lack thereof.
2. The penis has a bone in it.
Nope. Despite being referred to as a “boner” in common slang, there are no bones in the human male penis (other animals *do* have penile bones, such as dogs.) An important thing to remember though, is that penises can be fractured. It happens extremely rarely, and (as far as my research has told me) only during rough/hurried woman-on-top sex…but it does occur. Thankfully, surgery is hardly ever necessary for such injuries, and the overwhelming majority of men return to the same sex lives they had before.
3. You can tell a man’s erect penis size by looking at him while he’s flaccid.
Also a myth, because of the fact that there’s Show-ers and Grow-ers when it comes to human males. A grower will have a small flaccid penis that becomes much bigger when erect, whereas a shower will have a large penis at all times. This is just another aspect of individual bodies, and has no bearing on sexual performance or penile health. So stop worrying…
That’s all I’ve got for now, though this is a huge topic with so many other avenues of conversation. As always, please be polite and respectful to others in the comments and if you think I skipped over something important, let me know. Otherwise, I hope you enjoyed this post, and have a better idea about just how awesome the penis and male sexuality can be!