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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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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From Monogamy To Polyamory: 'I'm In An Asexual Poly Marriage With My Husband Of 7 Years'
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be asexual and in an open marriage? Relationship Coach Mikki Bey shared her first-hand experience with us as well as answered some of our burning questions.
Like a lot of people, Mikki met her now husband, Raheem Ali, online. As soon as they met, they instantly fell in love and got engaged on their first date. Just 90 days after they met, the couple tied the knot and have now been married for seven years. Raheem and Mikki aren’t your typical married couple, and despite being married for almost a decade, their marriage is anything but traditional. Mikki and Raheem have what she calls an "asexual polyamorous marriage."
Defining Her Sexuality
It wasn't until last summer that Mikki found the language to define her sexuality. "I didn't have the language for it until last summer," she explained to xoNecole. "Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing.”
Mikki always thought she was broken because she had no interest in sex. Mikki noticed after her friends came to visit and started discussing their sexual fantasies that she realized something was different about her. “At that point, I knew something was definitely different about me since I do not have sexual fantasies at all. It was truly news to me that people are at work thinking about sex! That was not my experience.” This led to Mikki researching asexuality, which she soon realized fit her to a T. “It felt like breathing new air when I was able to call it by name," said Mikki.
"Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing it."
Asexuality refers to people who experience little or no sexual attraction, experience attraction without acting on it sexually, or experience sexual attraction differently based on other factors. Like most things, asexuality falls on a spectrum and encompasses many other identities. It's important to remember, however, that attraction and action are not always synonymous: some asexuals may reject the idea of sexual contact, but others may be sex-neutral and engage in sexual activity.
It's possible that some asexuals will have sex with someone else despite not having a libido or masturbating, but others will have sex with a partner because it brings a sense of connection.
From a Traditional Marriage to Kitchen Table Polyamory
Although Mikki never really had a high sex drive, it wasn’t until after the birth of her son, that she noticed her sex drive took a real nosedive. “I never had a high sex drive, but about a year after my son was born, I realized I had zero desire. My husband has a high sex drive, and I knew that it would not be sustainable to not have sex in our marriage at that time.”
She was determined to find an alternative to divorce and stumbled upon a polyamory conversation on Clubhouse. Upon doing her own research, she brought up the idea to their husband, who was receptive. “It’s so interesting to me that people weigh sex so heavily in relationships when even if you are having a ton of sex, it’s still a very small percentage of the relationship activity," Mikki shared.
They chose polyamory because Mikki still wanted to be married, but she also wanted to make sure that Raheem was getting his individual needs and desires met, even if that meant meeting them with someone else. “I think that we have been programmed to think that our spouses need to be our 'everything.' We do not operate like that. There is no one way that fits all when it comes to relationships, despite what society may try to tell you. Their path to doing this thing called life together may be different from yours, but they found what works for them. We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us,” Mikki explained.
"We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us. We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sex partners to lifetime partners if it should go there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it."
She continued, “We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sexual partners to lifetime partners if it should get there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it. Our dynamic is parallel with kitchen table poly aspirations.”
Kitchen table polyamory (KTP) is a polyamorous relationship in which all participants are on friendly terms enough to share a meal at the kitchen table. Basically, it means you have some form of relationship with your partner’s other partner, whether as a group or individually. A lot of times, KTP relationships are highly personal and rooted in mutual respect, communication, and friendship.
Intimacy in an Asexual Polyamorous Marriage
Mikki says she and her husband, Raheem, still share intimate moments despite being in a polyamorous marriage. “Our intimacy is emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical, although non-sexual. We are intentional about date nights weekly, surprising and delighting each other daily, and most of all, we communicate our needs regularly. In my opinion, our intimacy is top-tier! I give my husband full-body massages, mani-pedis and make sure I am giving him small physical touches/kisses throughout the day. He is also very intentional about showing me his love and affection.”
Raheem and Mikki now use their lives as examples for others. On their website, thepolycouplenextdoor.com, they coach people interested in learning how to be consensually non-monogamous. “We are both relationship coaches. I specialized in emotional regulation, and Raheem specializes in communication and conflict resolution. The same tools we use in our marriage help our clients succeed in polyamory."
Mikki advises people who may be asexual or seeking non-monogamy to communicate their needs openly and to consider seeking sex therapy or intimacy coaching. Building a strong relationship with a non-sexual partner requires both empathy and compassion.
For more of Mikki, follow her on Instagram @getmikkibey. Follow the couple's platform on Instagram @thepolycouplenextdoor.
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