Recently I worked with a group of men for a weekend.  The purpose fo the group was “How to thrive in a healthy intimate relationship.”  During an accumulation of many of  our discussions , it came to me that these men totally associate sexuality with penetration. I should know this by now having worked with men for 26 years. Something about their intensity, naivety and ignorance hit me in the gut. They were really suffering with this constructed narrative of masculinity and sexuality.
I asked them: “How many of you always have penetration during sexual play with  a  partner/s?” They first looked at me  intensely and confused, as if I was  the stupid, ignorant, naive person in the room . And then they looked around to see each other’s response, feeling self conscious , wondering if their sexual behaviour was  indeed “normal”. And to  a man , each one raised his hand in a “Yes” response. Bear in mind these were healthy fit 40 something year old men.
Let’s put this into context: the mono heteronormative model of sexuality dictates that the penis is the  main player in the bedroom . And let me add so does the non-binary model of sexuality : men with men , women with women, threesomes and more, there is most always a penis in the mix. An erect penis .  Is it not ironic that what women long for is clitoral stimulation , hugging , kissing , cuddling and emotional intimacy .. “warming up” as it is often called.. and of course penetration .
I ask you:
* do you expect to penetrate with every sexual encounter?
* does your partner/s have the same expectation ?
* do you feel this is a burden , a responsibility or a pleasure that you enjoy ?
* have you ever imagined being sexual without an erection ?
* have you veer made that suggestion to a partner ? If yes, what was the response?
Attaining  and maintaining an erection when young and healthy is as natural as breathing . it just happens.  Remarkable really when you consider how many systems of the body are needed to be healthy and functional to make this “natural” event of erection happen .  A man needs healthy hormonal , neurological, cardio vascular and psychological systems to be independently healthy and to be working together like instruments in an orchestra.
Consider the health of South African men .
Raised blood pressure is accompanied by rising obesity trends, with  31% of men being overweight or obese. The age-standardised death rates for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are now higher than those of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis combined – with cardiovascular disease being the leading category of NCDs.

Erections need good blood flow : high blood pressure, high cholesterol , obesity inhibits good blood flow . This equals erectile dysfunction.

 In 2017 a systematic review of diabetes in South Africa   was done.  In Africa, the proportion of undiagnosed diabetes is 69.2%. Furthermore, 77% of deaths due to diabetes in Africa occurred in individuals younger than 60 years of age, emphasising the magnitude of the diabetes epidemic.

The prevalence of diabetes is rapidly increasing in South Africa. In 2009, approximately 2 million (9%) people aged 30 years and older had diabetes, increasing almost twofold since 2000

Diabetes damages  the nervous system . Ergo= erectile dysfunction.
Testosterone , so needed for erections , depletes from age 45years old . So an older man is hormonally compromised. Add in vascular, psychological  and neurological ill health and erections are definitely compromised.
Let’s talk about depression and erections.  The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) today announced that the rates of depression amongst men in South Africa are at an all time high. Depression and the medications needed to manage this illness, contribute towards erectile dysfunction . In other words, emotions , relationships and many other psychological factors impact and potentially, can inhibit erectile functioning.
4.3% of the South African population is disabled.

 In South Africa  there are about  55 774 disabled people  out of a 2017 population of 55 + million people. 6.5% of this group are men . Disabled means an inability to self care, have mobility and independence. In other words this eden all suffer from erectile dysfunction .

This is a shout out to South African men. I know many of you suffer from vascular, neurological , hormonal and psychological illnesses. I know this causes you erection problems. Many of you may turn away from being sexual as you no longer can depend on your erections and penetration for sexual play.  And let’s be honest, too many people turn away from you, seeing you as invisible and asexual. However many many of you continue to be sexual – without a functional penis.

I want men to learn from you. I want you to educate men on how to be sexual without the burden – and pleasure- of penetration with an erect penis.  Tell us your techniques of self pleasure and pleasure of an other. It will contribute greatly to the mental health of men and to the expansion of sexual pleasure for partners.

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