Some group is sending me 10 spams each day about penis enlargement and erectile dysfunction. In a few days, I'll be funneling all my email through g-mail to make it stop. In the mean time, I'm musing on the nature of marketing around sexual fears.
With women, it's all about the shape of their bodies and the appearance and feel of their skin. With men it's about size and performance. I've had the conversations many times. To women:
Me: "So does he still want to have sex with you?"
Her: "All the time."
Me: "What happens when you tell him that you're too saggy."
Her: "He says, 'Not for me, come over here.'"
Me (some rounds later): "Let's do some EMDR on your fear of abandonment/rejection if you don't look like a skinny 20 year old. We'll frontload the idea that the attachment that is between you supports his lust."
The older men with younger wives say, "My first (dead) wife was beautiful to me until the day she died, wrinkles and all. But when I started looking around, it was the younger ones that attracted me." Men are visual. On the prowl, they are attracted to symmetry and a large hip to waist ratio. (research supported.) In relationship, they can be attracted to the one they're with, if there is connection and mutual lust.
I've been doing therapy, including sex therapy for 30 years. I've never once heard a woman complain about the size of a man's penis, unless it was "too big" and caused them pain. I've been talking to sexually active women friends for 36 years. I've never heard a woman complain about a penis being too small. Gay men, yes. I've heard them dis other guys for size. And the gay man who wrote the female characters on "Sex in the City" has those characters complain about size. But no real live women. Here's a conversation with a man:
Me: "It's too small? How small is that? Flaccid? Erect? . . . So that's within the normal range. . . Who has complained about it? No one? Who are you comparing yourself to?"
Him: The guys in the porn movies.
Me: "So you're comparing yourself to the only erect penises you've seen, besides yours. You've got 2 issues. One, these guys are biological freaks. That's how they got their jobs. Second, by anatomical rules, you probably only see your erect penis by looking down at it. It's foreshortened and will always look even shorter than the freaks' penises. Try looking in a mirror. You won't be a freak, but you will look more normal."
After more discussion about shame, size, and enoughness, and possibly processing the shame with EMDR or Brainspotting, the talk turns to dating. Depending on the experiences of the client we could go in several directions:
1. Processing past bad sexual experiences. (No it's not an oxymoron, even for men.)
2. Information about sex: anatomy, technique, and learning to talk to women about sex. For men who are aging or have vascular and other issues that cause erectile dysfunction, we talk about medicine and I refer them. If the e.d. is psychological, we process the anxiety (90% of the time) that causes it. The future template is relaxing with a woman, and learning to play and reconnect, and pleasure her, until the erection returns, then staying in connection. If it's physically-caused, we process fear and grief and mortality issues. Then we talk about what a sex-life might be like without erections.
3. A stern lecture about what most women want: contact, connection, and someone who responds to their response. I quote David Schnarch (Passionate Marriage) a lot, about connected sex, about showing up as yourself, and about turning yourself on by turning your partner on, and vice versa. I say, "It ain't the meat, it ain't the motion, it's the connectedness of the meat, the motion, and the partners' responses." It's amazing how many people don't know that.
And it's disheartening, ten times a day, to get email reminders that enough men don't know that to make a market for bogus penis-enlarging drugs. Men are joining women in media-induced shame about their bodies. And I'm getting spammed.