January 9, 2017

Shame, Pleasure and Performance: Men and Sex

This week, we continue our series with Caffyn Jesse who explores the limitations that we put on male sexuality.


In the cultural construction of gender, men seem to have more permission to be sexual. This “permission” is actually a very narrow prescription: to be sexual with young women, to be sexual with hard penises, to be sexual in ways that assert the power and authority of phallic masculinity.

How terrible this is for boys and men! In identifying with phallic masculinity, they are meant to become unfeeling, hard and closed. What then of the actual body, that still feels, fears and wants?

In my practice as a somatic sex educator, I see men who suffer intense shame because they are experiencing one of the common sexual dysfunctions: premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, inhibited ejaculation. Or they feel shame because they are tuned in to the joys of anal eroticism, and have no permission to explore this in their lives. Other men suffer because they want no more of the sterile connections they have had with others and feel turned off sex. Some men feel extremely sexual, but have no place to express this. If they have been circumcised, they may carry trauma and scar tissue that inhibits intimacy. Some men feel compulsive and addicted in their masturbation practices, others feel inhibited and joyless. Some men feel shame about homosexual experiences and desire. They feel shame about penis size and function. They can feel intense shame, grief, fear and paradoxical desires when contending with a personal history of anal rape. 

There are so many ways that men are wounded sexually, and yet we live in a culture in which there is no permission for men to explore, express and grieve how they are wounded around sex.

As lovers of men, we can learn to touch in ways that honor the whole body, and make no demand. Men have nerves that may respond with pleasure to internal stimulation, just as women do. Nerves in the external genitals can often feel great pleasure whether the penis is hard or soft. 

Men don’t need a hard penis to be wonderful lovers. They don’t need to interact in ways that assert masculine authority and repudiate anal eroticism. We can learn to honour men in their softness, sensitivity, inwardness and vulnerability – and to touch in ways that celebrate every penis of every size and shape as beautiful in its unique configuration. 

We can offer the embodied insight that the a penis is not a phallus—not—or not only—a symbol of power and privilege—but a sensitive, vulnerable, soft compilation of tissue, nerves, blood and skin. We can invite quiet contemplation of sexual sensation, and celebrate wild expressions of sexual pleasure. There are few men who do not find this form of erotic interaction healing, affirming, and liberating.


Caffyn Jesse is a Certified Somatic Sex educator and a Certified Sexological Bodyworker who supports diverse people on their journey to sexual wholeness. 

People from around the world visit her Salt Spring Island studio, where Caffyn offers workshops and coaching. She teaches an Intimacy Educator training and the Certified Sexological Bodywork – Somatic Sex Educator training in Canada. 

She is the author of Science for Sexual Happiness and Erotic Massage for Healing and Pleasure. See her website at www.erospirit.ca and order her books at Amazon online.


  1. Beautiful, I have looked upon men like society often does and I feel so bad.

    Time for a change, to free men from these horrible ideas that they are and should be so different than women. This came at the right time for me since I started reading "Out in the open - the Complete Male Pelvis" yesterday and was already shaken of what I read.

    Thank you so much for continuing to widen my horizon, how enriching and life changing:)

  2. In the beginning of high school I was a very gentle loving boy. The other boys tortured me by beatings, cruel tricks and shaming. I reacted by retreating from my emotions.

    I acquired the nickname "Spock" because I became emotionless. I behaved like an Aspergers syndrome person. It was not till I passed the age of 65 that prostate massage to cure urination difficulties started to open my emotions.

    I still had difficulty attending the EroSpirit massage school last year because my high school trauma experiences surfaced. Finally yesterday I broke free, my emotions fully opened ... It was so so good! Friends saw the openness in my eyes. It was an ecstatic day!

    1. Ian I just wanted to let you know I feel so sorry for you that you had to endure that. And how beautiful you had that experience of fully opening up. How blissful that must have been. Thank you for sharing!


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