Uh-huh. I know how some of y'all process information and I'm willing to bet that a few of you were like, "What do you mean, do I enjoy penises? Duh." Umm, let me clarify something, though. What I'm asking isn't so much about if you like sex or not. What I'm saying is are you somewhere in the lane of Shelby from the movies The Best Man and The Best Man Holiday. If you saw the second film, you probably recall when she went on her own mini rant about how great penises are. She said that they are so great that you've got to talk to 'em. Yeah, when I ask if you enjoy penises, I mean are you approaching them…Shelby style. Do you like them just because…they exist.
Several months ago, I wrote an article entitled, "Umm, What's Up With These People Who Hate Kissing?" In it, several people shared their feelings on the fact that, while they do enjoy having sex, kissing isn't their favorite thing on the menu. Oftentimes, they merely tolerate doing it more than anything else. That is basically where I'm going on the penis, umm, tip today. When it comes to that particular organ, the reality is there are some of us who are Shelby and then there are some of us who have more of an, "At the end of the day, I accept that it gets me some of what I need" kind of approach.
If you've never really thought about which side of the fence that you're on, but would like some clarity on it all, here are some things that you should ask yourself in order to get to the bottom of things.
1.What Were You Taught About Penises While Growing Up?
There's a man by the name of Don Schrader who once said one of my favorite things as it relates to Christians and sexuality. He said, "To hear many religious people talk, one would think God created the torso, head, legs, and arms, but the devil slapped on the genitals." He's right. It's not like we suddenly become sexual beings on our wedding night; we're born that way. Yet so many of us grew up with the absolute worst sexual education on the planet—if we received any at all. And since our foundation plays a huge role in how we "build" as adults, that's why my first recommendation would be for you to reflect on what you were taught about penises.
Was there a discussion about them on any level? Did you only hear about them in biology and anatomy class? Maybe you overheard some grown folks discuss them and that altered your perception. For instance, I recall hearing a woman leader in a church that I sometimes went to tell a group of other ladies that her husband had a big mouth and a small d—k. She then said that most men in leadership roles do. Even at around 14, I was like, "She likes to talk down on her husband. Interesting." Even back then, I took note of that.
Let's say that you never heard anything about penises. How are you supposed to know how to feel about them now? And if you don't know the answer to that, wouldn't it make sense that you would approach them from a flippant and/or disconnected and/or somewhat fearful or shy vantage point? A lot of us don't realize just how much our childhood and adolescence directly influence how we approach things in life. Think back to what you were told about male genitalia. How has that information affected—or maybe even infected—you now?
2.What Was Your First “Sighting” of One?
OK, when I speak of the sighting of one, I'm not talking about family members like a brother or something. I mean, when was the first time you experienced one in a sexual setting? You know what they say—first impressions are important. Oftentimes, when we talk about our first time, it's the act itself that we're referencing but seeing someone's genitalia, knowing that it's about to enter into your body can be pretty overwhelming too. For me personally, the first guy that I tried to have sex with (tried because it literally didn't go in when we tried at two different times; in hindsight, I think the universe was intervening) had a penis that was non-threatening.
It was clean. He was circumcised (which is all that I knew about). It wasn't huge or anything, so I was game. And I'm glad that it was that way for me because I've got friends who have talked about their first having poor hygiene (like not manicuring their pubic hair), the penile skin being seriously discolored (for which they were ill-prepared) or the penis or scrotum being so big that they were intimidated like a mug. And when that's the case, it really can kind of scar you when it comes to what you think about all penises, moving forward.
So yeah, if you're someone who kind of has the "If I don't have to look at them, I'd rather pass" kind of outlook, reflect a little on your first experience with one. I wouldn't be surprised at all if that had something to do with it.
3.What Do You Like About ‘Em? What Do You Dislike?
To piggyback a bit on what I just said, take a moment to really think about penises. If you're already like "eww"—that's a huge sign that you are past merely tolerating them and honestly, that is probably hindering you from having a great sex life. If you're open to thinking deeply, ask yourself what you like about penises and…what you don't. There are some people in my sexual past who had really attractive penises. And they manicured their pubic hair. And they smelled amazing down there. And their scrotum (balls) was nice and smooth. Then there are a couple of guys who, when I think about their genitalia, it kind of makes me feel queasy. Basically, they were the opposite of everything that I just said.
You know, not too long ago, I was talking to a guy I know about vaginas. He was explaining to me that he liked what he and his boys called "chunky ones" but could pass on what they say are "roast beef curtains". If you're not sure what they are talking about, "chunkies" are vaginas that are meaty when it comes to the labia while roast beef curtains are the ones that have a lot of sagging skin. Although he did make sure to end his lil' review with, "That's not gonna stop us from having sex with either one, though." (Yeah. I bet.) Anyway, he went on to say that for a long time, he used to be uncomfortable with "the curtains" because it wasn't aesthetically his preference. And since he relies heavily on visual stimulation, that caused him to not give his all.
The point here? A lot of us don't realize that we are very much so like him. Because we haven't even really processed what we like or don't like about penises if there is something that turns us off, rather than ponder why, we just go numb and…deal—and the way we are in bed mimics that attitude. Yet the reality is that getting clear on what you like/prefer can help you to understand more of why you feel—or don't feel—the way that you do about penises and quite possibly sex overall; including (giving) oral sex.
And what if you're in a long-term relationship and your partner has some things about his penis that you're not exactly thrilled about? That's a good question. Once you are able to get to the root of what you prefer and what you don't, if it's something that can be adjusted (like pubic hair or scent), that is something worth discussing with him (in the way that you would want him to talk to you if the roles were reversed). If it's something that cannot be changed, try and think of things that you do like. For instance, if oral sex isn't really your thing because you don't like the way your partner's penis looks, the times when you have done it, was there anything that you did enjoy? Maybe his reaction. Perhaps how the sex ended up being afterward.
I'm telling you, getting to the root of likes and dislikes (and why) can be extremely freeing, even when it comes to penises. And the more liberated you become, the better you'll feel about penises and sex overall.
4.Do You Merely See Penises As a Means to an End?
When it comes to relationships, including sexual connections, empathy is always important. Keeping this in mind, how would you feel if your partner looked at your breasts or vagina and only saw them as a way to get off? I mean it. Wouldn't that make you feel kind of cheap and used? One role that our body plays is sexual pleasure. There's no question about that. Still, there's nothing like being with someone who relishes in everything about us, from head to toe, simply because they find it to be wonderful and amazing.
Growing up, I oftentimes heard, from pretty much most of the women in my life, that women's bodies were beautiful while men's bodies—especially when it came to their genitalia—was just alright, at best. Me? I personally don't feel that way. While I have seen some physiques—and genitalia—that are far more stunning than others, I adore the way a man's body is made. Penises included. And because of that, being in the presence of one isn't just about how it can give me an orgasm. It's about appreciating that it is a part of the man who I appreciate, period. And so, I will treat it as such. Not just a means to an end but something that helps to make the man I enjoy who he is. Again, period.
5.What Can Your Partner Do to Make You Feel More Comfortable?
Even after taking in all that I just said, if you're like, "Shellie, I get what you're saying in theory but I'm still not really feeling 'em", if you are in a relationship right now, ask yourself what your partner can do to help you become more comfortable. For instance, if you've always pretty much disliked penises and so you've preferred having sex in the dark to avoid taking a look, maybe a romantic setting would help. Start getting used to his penis more with the help of candlelight. I'm telling you, certain topics are so taboo that the reason why we can't move past our issues/challenges/opinions is because we're not really offered up suggestions on how to do so.
Listen, if you've got a partner who truly cares about you and wants you to feel better about all-things-sex, he will be open to hearing you out and helping you out. Be gentle. Be kind. Yet be honest in your delivery. With a little patience and the willingness to be open-minded, you might discover that you've got more "Shelby" in you than you thought. And boy, watch what that does for your sex life, should that be the case. Penises are cool. Better than that. Once you get to know them in a more up close and personal way, that is. Try it. You might go from tolerating 'em to really, REALLY liking them. #wink
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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