8 Harmful Myths We're All Spreading About Men and Sex
Whether it's the G-spot (is it real? is it all a myth?), a perceived lack of sexual desire (do they need their own Viagra?) or any number of pop culture-perpetuated standards of sexiness (thin, white, smooth-skinned, long-haired), women are constantly fighting stereotypes in the bedroom.
But men aren't spared judgment either. Guys are often cast as sex-crazed maniacs always looking for their next lay (and when they can't find it, resorting to porn). They are always turned on and always the aggressive ones. Most importantly, they always finish when it counts.
If that sounds unrealistic, it's because it is. Generalizing male sexuality is deeply harmful, for men and their partners. As we work to set the record straight for women in the bedroom, here are eight myths about male sexuality that it's also time to put to bed.
1. Guys always want sex.
That "every seven seconds" statistic isn't only incredibly difficult to measure, it also clearly appeals to our judgment of men as sex-hungry maniacs who can focus on nothing else. But there's no conclusive proof that men think about sex so constantly, nor that they think about it so much more than women as to define the male experience.
In fact, a 2011 study of college students found that while men thought about sex more than women did, they also thought about food and sleep more. Focus on sex might have less to do with a lustful drive than with how each of our brains work generally. In fact, some men don't want sex at all.
2. Guys always prefer sex to relationships.
We've been told time and again that guys have only one thing on the brain. But sex isn't the only desire sloshing around up there.
According to Wake Forest University psychology professor Andrew Smiler, physical and emotional intimacy are more important to men than people think. "The Casanova myth is so deeply ingrained that people are convinced that boys who claim to want relationships rather than casual sex are either incredibly rare or full of crap," Smiler told Jezebel.
In fact, a 2010 study from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that men are much more interested in relationships: "Two-thirds (66%) say they would rather have a girlfriend but no sex compared to only one-third (34%) who say they would prefer to have sex but no girlfriend. Similarly, 2 out of 3 (66%) agree that they could be happy in a relationship that doesn't include sex." Men, it seems, are interested in more than finding their next sexual conquest.
3. If a guy's turned on, he can get it up.
We are led to believe, whether by funny pop culture moments or ingrained societal belief, that men's constant readiness for sex manifests itself physically, whenever and wherever. No erection equals not being turned on. In fact, an erection is much more complicated than that.
First off, men consistently get erections in non-sexual situations – for example, morning erections are not actually the result of sexual dreams. Conversely, men can be aroused without achieving erection (just ask any man who's experienced erectile dysfunction). Sexual arousal in men manifests in a variety of physical and psychological ways, including increased heart rate and heavy breathing.
When men experience difficulty in this area, it doesn't mean they aren't turned on. Rather, a number of factors can explain a lack of erection, including the need for more than just physical stimulation. Either way, it's important to remember that sex doesn't have to revolve around someone's erection.
4. Good sex means a guy orgasms every time.
Wrong again. In Psychology Today, psychologist Deborah Taj Anapol said men can orgasm without ejaculating, and that's a good thing. "For many men orgasm without ejaculation enables a man to be multi-orgasmic, to maintain consistent sexual energy, desire and confidence, and to magnetically attract interested partners. Once men learn to orgasm without ejaculation they rarely want to go back to ejaculating every time," she writes.
When it comes to women, good sex may not require a man to come at all. In fact, only 25% of women reach orgasm through vaginal penetration alone. They usually require clitoral stimulation, which usually happens during foreplay, meaning a woman's experience of sex can be great even if a man never came at all. Men needn't be focused on reaching the finish line for women's sake.
5. The longer the sex, the better.
Many people associate quickies with laziness or lack of romance, but research shows engaging in quick sex can be healthy. In fact, there are sex therapists who encourage couples to incorporate quickies into their sex lives.
A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that both men and women prefer shorter sex (seven to 13 minutes) to longer bouts of passion (13 minutes or more). "A quickie is a form of intimacy. It is giving intense, sudden sexual access without asking for motivation or justification," says sex therapist Pepper Schwartz, according to Women's Health.
It's also a way for busy couples to connect. While men may feel they have to carve out large chunks of time to have sex with their significant others, connecting more frequently for shorter amounts of time may just be the way to go.
6. Bigger is always better.
Just because a man has a large penis, doesn't mean his partner will enjoy sex. Compatibility of size between partners is much more important. For heterosexual couples, if a woman has a smaller vagina, a large penis can be painful.
And let's be honest, in any relationship knowing how to use a penis is much more important than the size. As Daily Dot sexpert Nico Lang tells Salon, "Just because you have the equipment doesn't mean you necessarily know to operate the machinery, and there's simply no correlation between a guy's dick size and performance in bed."
The biggest issue with smaller penises may just be men's perception of them.
7. Guys like taking control in the bedroom.
Sure, some might, but definitely not all. Many men love when women take the lead. According to Les Parrott, a psychology professor at Seattle Pacific University and author of Crazy Good Sex, "Most guys feel like they are always the initiator and that sets up disequilibrium on the passion scale in the relationship," he wrote for WebMD.
Men want to be chased and led in the bedroom just as much as women do. As Frank Kobola writes for Cosmopolitan, "There are few things hotter than a girl who knows what she wants, and there are a lot of different ways to communicate that to a guy. It doesn't mean you have to bust out whips and leather restraints, and boss us around (but you could). It could be something as simple as pushing us down on the bed and pinning our arms down over our heads while you're on top."
8. Guys are never the virgins.
Psst. Not all guys are as experienced as the women they're with, nor do guys need to pretend they're more experienced than they actually are. According to a Psychology Today survey, men estimated that 1% of their peers were virgins, when 22% actually were.
Research does point to men having more sexual partners: A federal survey, according to the New York Times, found that "men had a median of seven female sex partners, and women had four male sex partners." However, mathematicians point out that the logic of the numbers doesn't make sense. David Gale, an emeritus professor of mathematics, told the New York Times, "Surveys and studies to the contrary notwithstanding, the conclusion that men have substantially more sex partners than women is not and cannot be true for purely logical reasons."
And as for the men losing their virginity earlier? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the average American loses their virginity at 17 — that's both men and women. Moreover, the CDC found that virgins make up 12.3% of females and 14.3% of males aged 20 to 24.
Not all men are the sex gurus women might think they are — or that men give off the impression of being. Getting real about that, along with about every other aspect of sex, will leave us all better off.