Question: Do You Enjoy Penises? Or Merely Tolerate Them?

How much thought do you put into penises? My thoughts exactly.


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 on 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 afterwards.

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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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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