A Sex Guide For Men and Women
We deal with common sexual problems and issues, which you can read about by clicking on the links below.
Sexual Development In Men
Men become aware of their sexuality at a comparatively early age. It is possible for them to have erections from birth, but realization that penile erection can be induced manually does not usually occur until the onset of puberty. The earliest age at which a man reported he had produced erection by choice was five, but this was claimed by only one man. On the other hand, the fact that his erection had a sexual connotation did not dawn on him for another six years, when he discovered masturbation for himself. The most common age for the discovery of the ability to produce erection is between 9 and 12. Sometimes it is simultaneous with the discovery of masturbation either from self experimentation or through initiation by a friend. The 7 to 8 age group for the conscious awareness of sexuality represents 4.6% of the sample, the 9 to 12 age-group represents 52.3% of the sample; the 13 to 14 age-group represents 20.3%; the 15 age-group, 16.7%; the 16 plus, 6.1 %.
It is often claimed that both boys and girls these days are reaching puberty earlier than they did twenty or thirty years ago, and if we accept the onset of puberty as the age at which sexual awareness is achieved, these figures give some credence to the claim in respect of boys.
The age at which boys become aware of the differences in male and female sexual anatomy naturally tends to vary according to whether or not the boy has sisters, or mothers who allowed their children to see them naked. 53.9% of the sample were aware between the ages of 3 and 9 from seeing small sisters or exploratory games with little girls. Those naked or from playing between 10 and 12 represent 20.6%, between 13 and 15, 7.9%. The 'can't remembers' account for the remaining 17.6%. Though 39.7% had no theories concerning the origins of babies, issues of pregnancy, and facts about how baby boys are conceived until they learned the truth - round about 6 or 7, when they asked mothers - the first theories of the remainder are as colorfully speculative as they have always been.
'A sort of virgin birth through one's body had a purpose, but I decided that every part of sure they must be used, but was puzzled by the balls. Then I thought babies must come from them, but couldn't work out how there could be more than two - one for each ball.'
I thought the doctor removed then, from the mother's stomach, after God had sent them to married people by a purely random system. But at 13 I learned the true basic facts from my headmaster, a Catholic priest.'
'Bought in a shop. Both my parents told me this.'
'It was clear from the start that babies come from eggs fertilized
inside the mother. It was partly thought out by myself, and partly
explained to me by mother.'
As I pointed out earlier the parents of the sample fall mostly into group 2 of my classification - the 45s to 65s. As adolescents they had benefited from the franker treatment of masturbation, as young adults from the franker social attitudes towards sex, and as parents from their initial attempts to establish a deeper relationship with their children. (Or so we had been led to believe.) How the majority reacted to these opportunities should be reflected in the parent-child relationship of the sample, who, themselves, should have benefited considerably more than their parents from the reforms in sexual attitudes I have described above.
These ideas are dealt a blow from the
first two sets of figures:
The remarks of some of those who were able to discuss sex with their parents give the impression that it is the children who are more inhibited than the parents.
'They did discuss sex with me, but after a time gave it up, because they saw I was too embarrassed.'
'I did ask my father questions and he answered them all very frankly and without embarrassment. But I never felt easy about it.'
'My father died when I was a baby. Mother answered my questions quite frankly, but jibbed when I asked her to describe what happened in intercourse and to explain STD. After that I was too embarrassed to consult her again.'
'I couldn't bring myself to talk to them about sex when I was in my teens, and though they never brought it up, I know they would have answered any questions frankly. When I was nineteen, however, everything suddenly changed, and we had frequent discussions about sexual behavior and attitudes in quite some detail, even my mother being most frank and detailed in her observations. Perhaps the reason why they never broached sex was that they knew we received sex-instruction at school.'
These confessions of embarrassment in approaching parents confirms the view I have held for a long time - that unless parents form a very close relationship with their children from an early age, certainly by 8 or 9, and take them into their confidence about all family matters, so that sex, when it crops up, is seen by the children to be a natural part of the family experience, the children will erect a barrier, not the parents. I have ideas about the family relationship which I have set out elsewhere. But I am quite sure that until parents are prepared to take their children fully into their confidence about sex, even their own experience of it, the children will sense that there is something still mysterious and forbidden and become too reticent to make the first move. The parents must always take the initiative, and they cannot take it too early. In my experience, one of the chief, if not the chief, reason for parental embarrassment is not the subject matter, but the lack of an adequate - or what seems to be an adequate - sexual vocabulary.
In many cases of breakdown of adult sexual relationships the primary cause is the inability of both partners or the unwillingness of one, usually the wife, to discuss their sexual needs with one another; and the underlying reason for the unwillingness or inability is simply a matter of not knowing what words to use, or finding the technical terms natural to use. A man wrote to me recently, 'I have a great longing for my wife to hold my testicles during the last phase of sex, but how can I tell her? I'd feel such a fool saying, "Please darling, hold my testicles," and yet I can't say, "Please hold my balls". It would offend her, even if I could.' Somehow or other, the medical terms have got to lose their artificiality by use in so-called polite conversation, or a new sexual vocabulary must be invented, or the four-letter words must regain their once decent currency - I would prefer the last. But a means of communication there must be, and it can form a bridge between spouses it can form a bridge between parents and children, and will make for a more worthwhile relationship without sexual dysfunction between sexual partners.
Among the 77.8 % who were not able to discuss sex with their parents, 34.7% gave the embarrassment of parents as the reason; 24.3% said, 'The subject never came up. There seemed no need to discuss it; 8.1% explained that their parents were 'too remote'; 102% gave their own embarrassment as the reason.
The answers to the question: 'What was the attitude of your parents towards your teenage relations with girls?', brought one or two surprising results. No fewer than 17.5% had no relationship with girls until they were in their twenties. Parents who were openly hostile to boy-girl friendships gave the curiously large percentage, in my view, of 12.6%. This attitude was found to cover all the sample age-groups, but was predominant among the 28s. Some of the remarks made were:
'They didn't like it at all.'
'Education before sex was their motto.'
'They were always embarrassed about my sex-life, and had some stupid comment to make which they hoped would put me off, but I took no notice.'
'They were generally discouraging.'
'They were openly hostile.'
7.1 % of parents were, apparently, amused by their sons' attempts to obtain girlfriends, and this hurt.
'They were giggly and stupid about it.'
'They were amused and curious, as though they didn't know what it was all about.'
'They were amused and tried to push me, saying I was too shy' (little did they know!).
Almost as bad as being hostile or amused, were the parents who apparently took no interest at all in their sons' development sexually. These constitute the high percentage of 28.7%. I find it impossible to understand parents who show no interest in their sons' exploratory initial forays 'in the field' so to speak, for when a teenager is trying to form a human relationship with a contemporary of the opposite sex, he is often puzzled and uncertain, and needs reassurance from adults; no one can possibly give greater assurance and confidence than parents.
Fortunately, this somewhat sad situation revealed so far, is retrieved by the number of parents who do actively encourage their sons' first fumbling steps towards finding love. This group of parents does constitute the largest - 31.7% - but nevertheless they are disappointingly fewer than one had hoped to find, and than they ought to be.
The question, Have you ever seen either or both your parents naked? I regarded as important, because it demonstrates an attitude towards sex which I believe helps in inspiring confidence between parent and child. I argue that if parents can appear naked without embarrassment before their children it enhances the intimacy of the whole parent-child relationship, and inspires confidence as probably no other behavioral act does in the naturalness of sex. It tells the child that the sex organs are no different from any other part of the body and in doing so takes out of sex much of the 'mystery' which still, unhappily, prevents it from becoming the open and frankly dealt with subject it should be; and it breaks down inhibitions, in the parent, making the open and frank discussion of sex more possible. As to whether parents could ever discuss sexual dysfunctions such as retarded ejaculation is another issues - yet when you think abut it, there is no real reason why fathers and sons should not be so intimate.
The breakdown of the figures was as follows:
Both parents 34.2%
Father only 17.1%
Again I find these figures a little disappointing, though 34.2% representing boys who have seen their mothers naked is, I suppose, an indication that there has been a break-through in this aspect of parent-child relationships.
Somewhat strangely, among 'both parents' group were parents who had never discussed sex with their sons, including some who were incapable of doing so. The analysis of this group under three headings is:
Did discuss frankly 41%
Did not discuss because it was taken for granted that sons knew all 18%
Did not and could not discuss 41%
I find it impossible to discover a rational explanation for the attitude which allows father and especially mothers to let their sons see them naked, and yet be quite unable to discuss sex with them. Perhaps there is an explanation in the realms of psychology? On the other side of the picture, as was to be expected, 90.4% of those parents who never appeared naked before their children were parents who never under any circumstances discussed sex with their sons. The remaining 9.6% were parents who were 'very frank and sensible', about discussing sex. However, because parents are able to discuss sex easily with their children, this does not automatically free them from the deep inhibition of appearing naked before them.