All About The Penis, Men & Male Sexuality

About maleness and masculinity

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What is it that makes a man different from a woman?

Well, there's the obvious, of course - penis and balls, greater body size, more muscles, and so on...but that isn't really the answer. What really makes us different from women lies inside our minds and our brains. 

I don't think anyone these days would fall for the line that we are all humans, and therefore we should be emphasizing our similarity.

Yes, let's emphasize our humanity, but let's also cherish and honor the differences that make us masculine and feminine.

(If you do believe that all significant differences in gender are socially conditioned, learned or constructed, and that conventional gender boundaries should be erased, you won't be interested in this page.)

man and woman standing in streetIt's the polarity of masculinity and femininity that leads to passion and excitement. If you're in a relationship with someone you see as a good friend, but with whom you have no polarity, there's not likely to be much passion. But what exactly does polarity mean?

Men and women are not the same - in ways which go well beyond the physical differences....

What defines masculinity and femininity? In biological terms, the difference in human behavior, thoughts, feelings and attitudes between male and female comes from the effect of testosterone on the brain of the male baby at two crucial points in its development in the womb.

These two surges of testosterone make the male brain develop differently from the female brain. The differences are explained in detail in many good books, such as Why Men Don't Iron by Anne and Bill Moir, but you'll probably recognize some of the differences here:

Boys are more aggressive, more active, have a shorter attention span and are more competitive than girls. They are much less socially oriented and bond by "doing", rather than "being".

They are much more spatially aware and less verbally aware. He is good with things - she is good with words. Her brain sees more, hears more, communicates better, and possesses more verbal resources.

Men solve problems by doing things, women solve problems by talking about them.

Men find risk taking and problem solving to be stimulating, even necessary to their self-esteem. Men's brains can focus much more closely than women's. Men work well in teams and, though competitive, tend to respect each other. Women don't. And so on.

Differences between men and women in communication

And of course the differences extend to sexual behavior in adulthood. Men are visually stimulated. Women are much less so. Men are quick to arouse, quick to come and quick to move their attention onto something else.

Novelty and variety are sexual stimulants; monogamy may be a great sacrifice for a man - in terms of his freedom to do what comes naturally.

A man does not want to be changed by his partner into something more like her; he does not want to be mollycoddled by her; he wants a partner in the true sense, a woman who makes him complete by allowing him to be himself and who respects his maleness.

His job is to win her, to cherish her and to protect her, and, controversial though it may be, to stand up to her and remain true to himself. In other words, to dominate her - but in a safe, respectful way, a way that gives her a strong point of reference to bash against as the tides of her feminine emotions sweep back and forth from day to day.

And it's that centered quality which women look for in a man, by constantly testing him. A woman's test of a man can take many forms, but the most obvious example of it is the kind of needling provocation, the can't-let-go-of-this-behavior, the relentless pressing of an issue, that a woman will engage in.

Most men respond to this by placating or reassuring her, a skill they pick up at the hands of their mothers, who, more often than not, react to the wildness of their young son by repressing his male energy and enthusiasm, trying, in effect, to feminize him, to make him more like her. (See The Good Man Project on the issue of how boys need men around them to become men.)

Since a young boy needs his mother's love he often learns to adapt to her requirements, a skill which all too many men continue to display into their adult relationships with women. 

Jordan Peterson on Growing up In A Fatherless Home - Boys & Men

What Makes A Man A Man?

It's wrong that a man can only be a man in the company of other men. He needs to be true to himself all the time, for it is this true essence of his masculinity that his woman is really seeking when she tests him.

In other words, he needs to be able to tell her, respectfully, how he feels and what he wants and needs from her - even if that is for her to stop doing something. In doing this, the more masculine his response, the more firm and centered he is, the better. That is what she is looking for. 

But why does a woman test a man repeatedly? And what does she want? The answer to the second question is simple - she wants a man who will stand up to her without being blown off course.

The answer to the first question is more complicated. One of the reasons she tests her man is a deep-seated fear that he will leave her, that he won't always be there for her.

Subconsciously she reasons that if he can be knocked off course by her, then he can be knocked off course by any other woman - and there is good reason for this fear, of course, because men are naturally promiscuous, at least to a degree: fidelity is a choice.

What's the connection between the penis, masculinity and sex? I wrote on another page that one of the things that makes me feel more masculine is making love to my partner: there's something about the interaction of masculine and feminine during sex that has the potential to bring out deep maleness and femaleness in each partner. 

The moment of penetration, when my penis enters my partner's vagina, has never lost its power for me. It's the moment when I feel truly masculine, truly male, truly in my own space as a man.

That moment when the softness of the feminine naturally yields to the hardness of the masculine (as exemplified by the erect penis) is magical, a time when each sex can feel truly fulfilled.

And there's something profound about the grace with which a woman can accept penetration, since it's such an act of trust and love on her part to take a man's penis into her body. (Or at least it's an act of caring and emotional connection.

And sure, I know sex can be many other things too, but here I'm talking about sex in a relationship based on love, I guess.)

Thrusting, too, is a powerfully male act. To see the feelings and emotions represented on my beloved's face as she takes my penis into her body is a truly wonderful thing.

And to see her move towards ecstasy as she feels my penis massaging her G-spot, to see her move from pleasure towards orgasm, in fact, is truly amazing and delightful, and it leaves me filled with a sense of wonderment each time it happens.

Her awe and delight when she sees me ejaculating inside her is also something to treasure. You can see this in the photo below - looks like both partners are really enjoying themselves....

(Read about what women think about men ejaculating inside them.)

No wonder, then, that the penis has become imbued with almost magical qualities in some cultures - perhaps even our own! For the penis is an amazing thing, not just as a symbol of maleness but as an organ which has the power to produce such pleasure for both partners.

man and women enjoying simultaneous orgasmIt's not lost on me, by the way, that the same is true of the vagina, and as one of my female friends pointed out, the desire to be penetrated is just as strong as the desire to penetrate: how could the complementary concepts of masculine and feminine come together if it were not so?

There's another moment in the sexual connection which seems essentially masculine - the moment of ejaculation. If penetration and giving are the theme of masculinity in sex, then being opened up and receiving are the equivalent themes of femininity.

For a woman to take a man's ejaculation, to have his penis powerfully discharge its potentially life-creating load of semen inside her vagina, is not a passive act but an act of acceptance, an act of receiving what the man has to offer.

To reject his semen is to reject him - which is why men, despite their claims to the contrary, would always like their partner to swallow when they ejaculate during oral sex. 

Certainly it is during sex, when my penis becomes me more than at any other time - or at least when it represents me more acutely -  that I feel most at home in my identity as a man, and most masculine. Yet how would I ever define masculinity?

It's something one knows about oneself, and I think it's often defined by reference to the gender polarity of one's sexual partner. This raises the question of whether you can ever truly know yourself as a man until you have enjoyed a relationship with the deep feminine. I suspect the answer is probably not.

So I'd say one way to define masculinity is by referring to the action of the penis - that is to say, by asking oneself, "Do I wish to be penetrated, or do I wish to penetrate?".

Another way to define masculinity is to refer to qualities that seem to have a masculine sense about them: things such as feeling in control, feeling comfortable in the world as a man who achieves things, who builds things, who can work well in a team with other men and who gets satisfaction from solving problems....and so on. 

Of course I'd be lying if I claimed I'd never looked at my penis and thought how satisfying it was to be a man and to have a penis!

There's some profound psychological association between the penis, that very male symbol of masculinity, the one that's always visible, always ready for action, and our sense of maleness. How unsurprising, then, that a bigger penis seems to be such a symbol of maleness in so many men's eyes! 

Other pages on the penis and sex

The penis and the phallus
Beauty of the penis
Penis, phallus and the male ego
A cultural history of the penis
Black men and penis size
Evolution and the penis
How important is size?

Other sections on the site

Penis facts and penile functions
The penis, masculinity and sex
A Cultural History Of The Penis
Penile & Other Problems