Oedipus Revisited: Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male Today

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Your husband is mad about sex and thinks about it more than you do. Since the average man is more interested in sex than the average woman … he is more likely to: have strong sexual urges, take sexual risks — despite the consequences — be unfaithful or try commercial sex services. In the above passage, male sexual satisfaction is acknowledged as an important means through which women can guarantee that men will remain unfailingly faithful to them.

In sum, female sexual communication is precluded when addressing the male sex drive. This holds significant repercussions for the extent to which women can be regarded as active and empowered in their sexuality. They may be able to communicate what they find sexually pleasing but are bound in having to submit to the dictates and prioritisation of the male sex drive.

Sex advice literature has been critiqued for denying the multiplicity of female sexuality — in particular, in reducing the female erogenous zones to only the vagina so as to comply with the coital imperative. A number of these articles are especially written for men with a view to enabling them to sexually please their wives.

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Anything departing from this is deemed foreplay. Furthermore, the article in question also impedes the enactment of potential non-phallic sex acts by displaying an inordinate focus and attention on the penis. What becomes comprehensible is that the penis becomes enshrined in copious consideration as an organ par excellence. When women are encouraged to explore a man's non-genital erogenous zones, it is exclusively in terms of foreplay.

Decide to lavish attention on alternative zones, such as your mate's legs. Ask your mate to choose one non-erogenous zone on his body for example his neck, ankles or tummy. Focus on this body part only, for the next 24 hours. Kiss that body part, tickle it, blow on it and cuddle it … be creative! Your goal should be to see how worked up you can get him in order to make your next session as explosive as possible!


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For male sexuality, foreplay is relegated solely to amplifying the pleasure linked to the final penetrative sex act. Foreplay is accorded no significance as a legitimate, genuine and noteworthy sexual act in its own right. To this end, foreplay is merely added to the standard phallocentric script: intercourse is still the main event and anything else is considered foreplay. Additionally, this standard scripting also sees that sex is construed as a linear process in which foreplay is followed by penetration.

Coitus remains the focus and endpoint in this sequence. Although female sexuality is understood and heralded in its plurality and pervasive distribution of erogenous zones — all of which hold the possibilities for multiple orgasms — the converse is true for men. Male sexuality is described exclusively in terms of the penis and the need for penetration. For feminist theories of sexuality, this construct of male sexuality is reflective of phallocentric ideals.

In this persistence of phallocentrism, vaginal intercourse is still deemed to be the sex act; everything else is relegated to foreplay. Thus, sex in such a framework lacks flexibility and non-penetrative, non-phallic possibilities.

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In the previous sections, male sexuality was outlined as phallocentric in relation to prizing coital sex and patriarchal female submission to the needs of the male sex drive. However, the phallocentrism presented in Intimacy also displays a significant departure from standard accounts addressed to men that enshrine penis size as of a high value for female pleasure and masculine ideals. When it comes to mutual sexual pleasure, penis length and girth mean nothing compared to the quality of foreplay, the sensitivity of touch, and the depth of intimacy in the relationship.

However, the advice written for women regarding the issue of penis size perpetuates a number of other phallocentric associations.


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  4. When you peek under the sheets at your sleeping mate, you discover that he is … um … under-endowed. What next? Such a sensational proclamation is premised on a number of hegemonic accounts of male sexuality — for example, that normal men are sexually potent and incessantly require sex. Furthermore, the quote also reveals marital relations that are ascribed according to gendered divisions and roles. Women are provided with guidance in order to support their husbands. This is unmistakably noticeable in the following quote:. Yet, these very accounts do not construct the penis in terms of either a phallic spectacle big, powerful and impressive or as pitiful and shameful stemming from its disjuncture from the phallus small and weak.

    As such, it departs from the polarity which structures the dominant discourse of the penis in the West: the dichotomy of phallic versus non-phallic.

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    The discourse of the melodramatic penis includes a number of characteristics which will be explored further. Firstly, the melodramatic penis can be read in a positive manner as avoiding the simple structuring dichotomies of the large, awesome phallic spectacle versus its abject antithesis. In this sense, the penis is removed from either the ideal phallic spectacle or the ridicule of the ineptitudes of real penises.

    Secondly, although not presented within a dichotomy, the discourse of the melodramatic penis persists in defining the penis in terms of monumental importance — the penis is seen to be manifest in connotations associated with male sexuality, health and well-being that continue to block a penis from merely being a penis. To return to the article in question, the discourse of the melodramatic penis is apparent in the advice written for women, in which there is an appeal to the emotions of women to provide comfort and support for men in order to quell any lack of penis-confidence that they may have.

    Additionally, rather than merely being a body part, the penis is framed in terms of virility. It is also treated as a default conjecture in assessing the lack of male desire for sex and sexual responsiveness.

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    Yet, what most epitomises the melodrama of the penis is the lack of the very identification of it as penis, an organ and not an extension of masculinity and gender stereotypes: an organ rather than a symbol that is embedded and assigned meaning in terms of virility; an organ rather than a motif of anxiety and feelings of insecurity; and an organ that is inconsequential to mutual sexual pleasure. Even in the closing remarks of the article in question, the melodrama of the penis is present:.

    If he is skilful, there is little chance that you will ever guess its true size. In perpetuating such descriptions, the penis becomes a metaphor for pleasure and satisfaction; as tools, equipment and apparatuses for both female and male sexuality. Such metaphors persist in framing pleasure as a quality or capability of the penis. In sum, the discourse of the melodramatic penis is a departure from the dichotomist construction of the ideal, potent phallus set against the fallibility inherent in attempting to live up to this ideal.

    However, it still enshrines the penis with astounding importance in terms of offering pleasure for both men and women. Thus, even though the phallic qualities of large penis size are not present in the article, the discourses of the melodramatic penis continue to reinforce phallocentric descriptions of sex the penis as an organ of pleasure for both sexes and patriarchal relations woman as a man's aid, offering him both support and reassurance in regard to penis size.

    To offer a departure from the above findings, constructions of male sexuality require the inclusion of alternative modes of male erotic pleasure. This requires media texts and primary care professionals to encourage men to explore and also to experiment with pleasurable feelings associated with non-genital erogenous zones of the body.

    Such transformation is not to expose the inadequacies and limitations of male sexuality, but to disestablish the dominance of patriarchal and phallocentric versions of sex.

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    The author declares that no financial or personal relationship s have inappropriately influenced the writing of this article. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.


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    Published online Mar Rory du Plessis 1. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Corresponding author. Correspondence to: Rory du Plessis Email: az. How to cite this article: Du Plessis R. A discourse analysis of male sexuality in the magazine Intimacy. Received Mar 28; Accepted Nov The Authors. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Background The World Health Organization's publication, Developing sexual health programmes , states that the media is an important source of information about sexuality.

    Aim The study aims to reveal how the sex advice articles written in Intimacy for women in regard to their male partner's sexuality reflect patriarchal and phallocentric ideologies. Method A discourse analysis of the sex advice articles in the magazine Intimacy was conducted. Results The discourse analysis identified a number of key themes regarding male sexuality. Conclusion Constructions of male sexuality require the inclusion of alternative modes of male erotic pleasure. Introduction The World Health Organization's publication, Developing sexual health programmes , states that the media is an important source of information about sexuality.

    The key themes that contribute to the aforementioned ideologies include: Patriarchal: female submission to the sexual needs of men whilst at the same time providing emotional support to them. Research methods and design Sample Intimacy is the English duplicate of the Afrikaans publication, Intiem.

    Data analysis Discourse analysis was utilised to identify the key themes that constitute Intimacy 's construction of male and female sexuality. Results As already indicated, three key themes regarding male sexuality have been identified in Intimacy. In the following quote, women are obliged to accept and satisfy their husband's biologically-entrenched drive and innate need for sex: Withholding sex from your husband deprives him of a deep-rooted need as basic as your own need to receive love from him regularly.

    Equally problematic is the fact that the article cautions women against denying their husband this need and desire for sex as it will result in detrimental consequences for the marriage: Your husband is mad about sex and thinks about it more than you do. Phallocentric scripting of the sex act Sex advice literature has been critiqued for denying the multiplicity of female sexuality — in particular, in reducing the female erogenous zones to only the vagina so as to comply with the coital imperative. The melodramatic penis In the previous sections, male sexuality was outlined as phallocentric in relation to prizing coital sex and patriarchal female submission to the needs of the male sex drive.

    Competing interests The author declares that no financial or personal relationship s have inappropriately influenced the writing of this article. References 1. World Health Organization Developing sexual health programmes: A framework for action [homepage on the Internet]. Potts A. Feminist deconstruction and the vocabularies of heterosex. New York: Routledge; Tiefer L. Sex is not a natural act and other essays. The fallible phallus: A discourse analysis of male sexuality in a South African men's interest magazine.

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    Wilbraham L. Dear Doctor Delve-in: A feminist analysis of a sex advice column for women. Culture, power and difference: Discourse analysis in South Africa. London: Zed Books, ; pp. No date [cited Jan 25]. Farvid P, Braun V. Sex Roles. Gill R. Postfeminist media culture : Elements of a sensibility. Euro J Cult Stud. Mediated intimacy and postfeminism: A discourse analytic examination of sex and relationships advice in a women's magazine. Discourse Commun. Hite S. Oedipus revisited. Sexual behaviour in the human male today.

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    Oedipus Revisited : Sexual Behavior in the Human Male Today by Shere Hite (2007, Paperback)

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