Category Archives: men

behold, thou art fair

I spent most of the day home in bed with a norovirus that’s been making the rounds. (I used to be a person who never got ANYTHING. Where did that go? How did I become the person who gets EVERYTHING?) Now I’m watching one of my favorite movies, “Keeping Mum.”

Context: wife feels sexually neglected by her vicar husband. The new housekeeper intervenes.

Look at this:

Rowan Atkinson is my dream man. Astonishingly, I’ve only ever posted anything about him once before! (Note resemblances between tall, thin, dark-haired, mild-mannered comedian and the romantic euphemism.) I like the nerds, I like the smart ones, I like the ones who apologize easily and spontaneously bring chocolate with them when they come over.

Having spent my last post griping rabidly about the men in the world who make this an unsafe place for women – the predators – how about a post about the good ones?

I just gave my first lecture of the semester (I totally half-assed it, ended early, and it was still exhausting.) I did this activity at the end, where I showed 105 slides with highly diverse pictures of different women on them, and we went down the rows and for each picture, a student said out loud, “She is so beautiful.” The goal was to begin undoing the cultural brainwashing that mainstream narrative around women’s bodies and what it means to be beautiful.

It was pretty great, hearing 105 women validating all the other women in the room.

But there was one male voice in the room – a 5 colleges student or a boyfriend of a student, I don’t know. And to hear that one male voice say, “She is so beautiful”… I mean, I’m all for women supporting women, but I could feel something happen to the energy in the room when that one male voice affirmed the beauty of a woman whose body absolutely did not conform to the cultural standard. It was almost painful how important that was.

Lesson: we need our good men. Not because we rely on men’s approval or even because they’re the gatekeeper allies, but because men bring an important and different energy.

I must acknowledge that for most of my life, most of my friends have been guys. I really, really enjoy not having to worry about hurting someone’s feelings, and for a long time my experience was that girls were terribly fragile, guys were made of rubber, and I am a bulldozer. And the good men were the ones who valued honesty over diplomacy.

Now one of my favorite things about good men is the extent to which they recognize their privilege, the extent to which they listen to women in the same way they listen to men, the way they keep their (inevitable) thoughts about how sexy a woman is to themselves. The good men are alert for the ways that a woman’s physical appearance might be impacting how they interact. They pay attention to making sure women feel comfortable in a social environment – not in a chivalrous way, but in a plain old polite considerate way.

(BTW, if you’re a good man and looking to learn what makes you good, the above list is a pretty decent summary.)

There are a lot of good men in the world. In fact, most of them are good. And only a minority of the ones who aren’t good aren’t good because of their own psychology, rather than some interaction between their psychology and their culture.

Kiss your good man tonight, if you have one. (I can’t kiss mine, I have this fucking virus.)

how often you think about sex… or food or sleep

A neat blog post from Brian Mustanski over at Psychology Today, about a study on frequency of thoughts about sex. It’s a neat study that asked participants to press a clicker each time they thought about either food, sex, or sleep – depending which group they were in. (Brian is another Kinsey alum, so I have a natural bias toward his work. I really like his stuff.)

My favorite part is on page two of the Psychology Today article, where Brian talks about problems in the media’s coverage of the study, which parallels my thinking on mainstream journalism reporting science:

1. Writers were either confused or deliberately choosing the more extreme, less representative central tendency (the mean rather than the median) to report.

2. Writers emphasized the central tendency, to the exclusion of standard deviation, when one of the most compelling results of the study was the wide variability among subjects.

3. Writers also emphasized the sex part, paying inadequate attention to the fact that thoughts about sleep and food were as frequent as thoughts about sex.

4. Writers emphasized population-level differences between men and women, neglecting to clarify that there was lots of overlap so that, even though the men on average reported more thoughts about sex (and food and sleep), many of the individual women had more thoughts about sex (and food and sleep) than many of the individual men.

5. Writers generalized the results to All People, rather than recognizing the delimitations of the population studied: college students, who are likely to be WEIRD.

What can we really conclude about frequency of thoughts about sex? We think about sex about as often as we think about food and sleep, and we vary a great deal from each other in all three topics.

I wanted to insert another thought here, too:

Hunger and sleep are both drive motivation systems, with a powerful homeostatic mechanism punishing an organism for failing to get adequate food (hunger) or sleep (fatigue). Sex, in contrast, is an incentive motivation system, pushing an organism toward appetitive stimuli, rewarding the organism for exposure to positive experiences rather than punishing it for not getting enough.

(This is not so simple a binary as I’ve made it sound.)

So I wonder how frequency of sex thoughts compares with other incentive motivation systems, like exploration (what’s a thought about “exploration”? Heck, what’s a thought about “sex”?)

a fishing show as the sexiest thing on television

You can tell I’m on vacation by all the mainstream media I’m consuming. Next up: River Monsters. It might be the sexiest show on television, and no I am not being sarcastic.

My sister introduced me to it maybe a month ago, and I assured her that there was no way I’d get into it. It’s a fishing show, you see, featuring this dude, the auspiciously named Jeremy Wade, who travels around the world and fishes for very, very big fish in fresh water.

I repeat: an hour-long tv show about one guy fishing. How could this be a show I would enjoy?

Well.

What I find compelling about the show is Mr Wade’s abiding need to catch these fish, his deep and absolute commitment to a singular passion, even in the face of skepticism about the ultimate purpose or even responsibility of doing so. This is a man with no friends, my sister and I joked after the second episode, a man whose first and only real interest is catching fresh water fish, to the cost of his ability to engage with other humans outside the context of fish.

Fish.

See, all the while he’s acting out “The Old Man and the Sea”: “It’s as if the fish is taunting me,” he says. “It feels like a test of character that I’m failing at the moment.” Like Buddha, he’s being taught by the river. That, my friends, is sexy.

But he’s at his sexiest when he’s confronting his own privilege as a middle-class white guy fishing catch-and-release with expensive equipment for sport, in places where his 100-pound catch could feed an entire village of people who are struggling to eke out an existence on the river.

And through the disintegration of his entitlement and the deepening of his spirit through self-confrontation runs his passion–consistent, relentless, enlivened even, by his deepening understanding of its place in the reality of human life on Earth.

All of which I find genuinely sexy.

Forget the “solving a mystery” gimmick. Forget the giantness of the fish. Forget the ecological message. Remember his left index finger resting on the line, attending to minute vibrations, and the French, Portuguese, and various other languages in which he can talk about fish, and he way he totally forgets he’s presenting a television show when the line rips out at last, after hours or days or weeks of waiting. Remember Mr Wade’s genuine agony when a fish goes off the line and his glowing joy when he has the fish in the boat or on the shore.

THAT is what’s sexy, friends. Because it’s passion.

So here’s some bad advice:

Single? Want to attract people? Get yourself a soul-devouring passion*.

(*Warning: soul-devouring passion probably obscures your ability to have substantial relationships with the people your passion attracts.)

confidence

I have had a totally INTENSE past few days. On Thursday I did a talk on positive sexuality that resulted in a half dozen women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, discussing places to find women-friendly porn and erotica. Totally great.

And I gave about 15 seconds of advice about fellatio (“Don’t neglect the scrotum as an option – not all men like it, but some men REALLY like it, so give it a try.”), which resulted in the question, “Where can I find more about that, about… you know?”

(Why, my little Fellatio Guide.)

The thing for me: how do you get to your 40s, 50s, and 60s without knowing to try the scrotum? Who can’t go to a bookstore and look in the sexuality section – and especially now, who can’t just google “feminist fellatio” or whatever? How can it be that there are women in America who don’t know that good, women-friendly, sex-positive information is readily accessible? How do you get to middle age without knowing where to go to get it? What would be missing to prevent that?

I think most of what would be missing is confidence. Confidence to try new things without worrying about “getting it wrong,” as though it’s possible to get anything “wrong.” Confidence that looking like a porn star is not required to give head like one. BETTER than one.

Which makes me cry, how do you teach confidence!? How do you learn it?

I talked to someone else on Saturday, an old friend who has broken through a whole lot of psychological noise to get to brand new a level of openness and creativity and pleasure in her sexuality. How did she do it? I asked, and she said she just… decided she’d had enough of worrying about whether or not she could please a man, whether or not she was adequate. She just let it go, the decades of negative messages.

Crikey! Talk about power!

I suppose it’s a readiness for change thing: when life has prepared you to change, you will. Before then… you’ll stay stuck. But I suppose folks who read the blog are ready. Folks who find and read the fellatio guide are ready. Which means that I never see the people who aren’t ready.

And I forget how far many people have to travel before they get to healthy joyful sexuality. I forget how revolutionary it is to suggest that your body belongs to you and no one else, that you’re allowed to do ANYTHING you want in bed, and that your own enjoyment of pleasure – your own and your partners – is the one and only measure of success?

How do we get them ready?

are doods… really… this… ?

In the comments related to my last post, Ian said:

…if a woman took sex off the table up front, as you [Emily] are advocating, my interest in cultivating her as a friend usually diminished dramatically afterwards. I think that runs true of most men. If I went on a date with a woman who let me know up front that there was no way she would consider sleeping with me, then even if I wasn’t particularly interested in her sexually the chances that I’d invest time in that relationship would be scant.

Let’s bear in mind that Ian is happily married and this is all hypothetical or, at best, post hoc, so let’s not holler at him please.

But. This… would mean… a woman who wants a straight man to get to know her as a person has to create an environment where sex is perceived to be at least a theoretical possibility. And…

(1) Nearly all of my closest friends have been men, and it never occurred to me that this might be true.

(2) This is exactly the sort of thing I tell my students is a cultural myth but isn’t actually true – men, I want to tell my students, are not actually dick-driven simpletons incapable of recognizing a woman’s personhood in the absence of sexual access to that woman.

and

(3) Well, if this is true, it goes some distance in explaining why I’ve been single since 2005. When I used to the “let’s have sex to get the question out of the way” strategy, I had relationships – relationships that ENDED, let’s be clear, but relationships. Since adopting the “we’re not going to be having sex anytime soon because I really do need to get to know you first, no matter how attractive you are” strategy, I have not had one relationship.

Now, I have no trouble creating an environment where sex is viewed as a possibility – all I have to do is NOT say “sex is not going to happen in the foreseeable future,” and my job takes care of the rest. So perhaps my best potential strategy is to say, “We’re not going to have sex in the foreseeable future UNLESS you successfully seduce me, and I am a challenge to seduce because I know so much about the game that I am the fucking Magister Ludi of seduction; in order to play with me you have to play a META-game, you have to improvise a new game with me, in the moment. Go.”

So. I ask you, readers of all genders: if a woman takes sex off the table, will a straight man be less likely to want to get to know her? If not, why is this a cultural narrative? If so, does the same hold for gay men getting to know men? And if it is true, what’s a girl to do?

more differences

Last year I wrote a post about orgasm differences between men and women and also more global sexual differences between men and women, and differences is something that has come up a lot in the last couple weeks, so here’s some more:

Women change more across their lifespans. What they find pleasurable changes (often from partner to partner, as well as from reproductive stage to reproductive stage), whom they’re attracted to changes (in Lisa Diamond’s longitudinal study, 30% of her participants who identified as lesbian at the start of the study FELL IN LOVE with a man sometime during the 10 years of the study), their sexual interest, orgasmicity, tendency to ejaculate or not… everything that’s true about your sexuality today, women, is up for grabs. 10 years from now, it could all be different.

Because…

Women’s sexuality is more influenced by social factors. Women’s sexual functioning appears to be more heavily influenced by social factors such as relationship issues, social norms, stress, and reputation, compared to men. The typical stereotype that a man can want sex even when he and his partner are not on speaking terms, while a woman wants sex only when she feels emotionally satisfied, is an an oversimplification, but it captures the global phenomenon.

In contrast, men’s sexuality is more influenced by hormones. Women’s sexuality, similar (but not identical) to other female great apes’ sexuality, is almost completely decoupled from hormonal oscillation. This is a complicated and controversial issue, but the broad conclusion is that women’s sexual desire, responsiveness, orgasms, receptivity, and proceptivity don’t change in a predictable way across the menstrual cycle or across the lifespan.

I can be a little more specific than that: an individual woman might tend to have a particular oscillation of her sexuality across the menstrual cycle (or she might not), but that oscillation will change across her lifespan – and not necessarily in a way we can predict – and it will not be the same as “most other women.” Some women have a peak in interest at ovulation, some have a peak before menstruation, some have a peak during menstruation, and others have a peak just after menstruation.

Put a woman on hormones, and christ only knows what it’ll do to her sexual interest.

Men’s sexuality, in contrast, changes in comparatively predictable ways with hormones. Testosterone is highest in the morning; sexual interest is highest in the morning. Testosterone is highest in late adolescence; sexual interest is highest in late adolescence (depending how you measure “sexual interest”).

Don’t imagine that I’m saying men’s sexuality is simple or dictated by hormones or uninfluenced by lifestyle, stress, relationship, etc. I once had a chat with a college guy who wanted to know what to do about the erection problems he was having, and it turned out he wasn’t really attracted to his partner, but she really wanted him and he felt like he was supposed to want to have sex with every woman he saw. He was surprised to learn that not being attracted to his partner was probably a key to his erection issues. *sigh*

Men’s sexuality has many of the same issues as women’s sexuality; but globally it’s a more stable, more predictable, more homogeneous phenomenon. You get to know a man’s sexuality today, and then you have sex with him again 10 years from now, a lot will be the same. Get to know a woman’s sexuality today, and then you have sex with her again 10 years from now… who knows?

Now I’m feeling like I should write a post about all the things men’s and women’s sexualities have in common! Another thing to go on the list of future posts.

unintentionally heteronormative

I discovered a MAJOR pedagogical fail last week.

My course is called Women’s Sexuality, so I began my first lecture with the questions:

What is sex? and What is a woman?

Right? Because it’s Women’s Sexuality, see?

Sex, I ultimately told them after some collective brainstorming, is an evolutionarily adaptive strategy for reproducing, involving the recombination of the genes of two individuals to generate a brand new (genetic) individual. In humans, as with many species, it involves a male, who has sperm, and a female, who has eggs.

A woman, I told them, was, for our purposes, for the time being, the female of the species, the one with the eggs, the uterus, and the breasts. In the process of brainstorming definitions, the class also suggested that a woman was “anyone who wanted to be,” and I promised that we would return to that idea and begin to explore the massive complexity of this concept.

And the entire semester would be an exploration of what falls out of that foundation of sperm and egg.

That was all in weeks 1 and 2.

Last week was the Gender lecture.

Let me say here that the class includes everyone from first years to seniors, folks who’ve never heard the phrase “gender binary” and folks who have fully transitioned from one gender identity to another. It’s a diverse group of students, but it’s also a 100-level class.

So I began at the approximate beginning, with the Bem Sex Role Inventory and the idea that masculinity-femininity doesn’t have to be viewed as a one-dimensional continuum but could instead be a two-axis system. I talked about intersexuality. I talked about transsexuality. Stuff like that.

After it, I received an email that, among a great deal else, described my curriculum – the entire curriculum, mark you – as “unintentionally heteronormative.”

Which made me stare, with one eyelid twitching, at my computer, because it means that for the last 8 weeks I have been failing, for two hours each week, over and over again, to make the most fundamental point of the class.

Because my class is neither unintentional nor heteronormative.

I mean, I do the obvious stuff: I use “they” rather than “he” or “she;” I say “partner” rather than “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” or “husband” or “wife.” I say “penetration” when some people might just say “sex.” I routinely point out the absence of research on people of non-hetero sexual orientations, the heteronormativity of the language in the textbook and in the media used in class. I’m, like, SO active in not assuming that anyone has any particular sexual orientation or gender identity and in teaching students not to make assumptions, to think critically about the science and the politics that live in the science. And of course I have an entire lecture on gender variation and another entire lecture on sexual orientation and identity (that’s next week).

But I AM teaching that humans are a sexually reproducing species wherein some have sperm (males) and some have eggs (females).

I suppose I’ve been relying on students to find their own way to embracing biology as a valuable way to think about sex. But this point of view is so foreign to many of them, many of them Sociology or Women’s Studies majors who have never thought about sex in terms of biology or reproduction, many politically active around these issues without ever having studied them academically. And I suppose it was too much to ask that they get there on their own.

I wanted them to find their way to the notion that it’s not “heteronormative” to recognize that sex is an evolutionarily adaptive reproduction strategy that, in humans, involves males and females; it’s just our biology, and there’s a complex, mutually interacting relationship between the biological and the social. I’ve been working toward that all semester. But they have not gotten there.

So I’ve spent days banging my head against a metaphorical wall, unsure how I could have failed so spectacularly, for so long, and not have realized it. I have 180some brilliant young humans who’ve spent something like 15 hours being lectured at by me without actually receiving the message I was trying to convey.

And now I have to figure out what to do about that.

bend it like Beckett

Here is a handjob tip that causes people’s eyes to widen and their heads to tilt thoughtfully to one side.

As I’ve mentioned before, the shaft of the penis extends deep inside a man’s body. Much can be done with this fact.

So why not do this: once he’s got his erection, lay him on his back, lube up your hands, and start the clock. What I mean is, using upward strokes and alternating hands (right, left, right, left), point his cock toward his chin. Bend it right down so it’s nearly parallel to his body.

Then rotate, point it toward his shoulder (right, left, right left – go slow, be fairly firm),

then toward his hip bone (right left…), there you go, well done,

then to a 90° angle, toward his hip, then down toward his thigh, then straight down toward his feet, and around again up the other side.

Like his body is a clock face and you’re rotating the “big hand” around 12 hours. Gradually. With upward (as in, from base of penis to head of penis) strokes, alternating hands. And plenty of lube.

Feel free to include some wrist-twisting, if you feel it’s appropriate.

What this does is bend the shaft where it meets his body. This feels very interesting and good. You may notice that he’s particularly sensitive or responsive pointing in one direction or another. Tuck that information away for future use.

A slightly advanced technique, for those who feel they’ve mastered the basics: don’t grip the shaft in your fist, like you’re gonna lead a marching band with it; instead, allow the palm of your hand, your thenar eminence to be the primary source of contact, and curl your palm around the head of the penis, just resting your fingertips over the frenulum, which is exquisitely sensitive to light touch. While’s he’s rotated toward your right, it’s the right hand you’ll do this with; toward your left, your left hand. But you’re alternating hands, yeah, so when your opposite hand strokes upward, it’ll be an entirely different sensation – with the palm of your hand against the frenulum instead.

When you’re using this technique, use the hand that’s not stroking to press the shaft, near the base of the penis, in the desired direction. The combined sensation of the deep-touch bending and the light-touch stroking is very lovely and fine.

You can also try using your hands and your mouth. It’s a particularly excellent strategy for folks interested in preventing choking: you vastly decrease the risk of accidentally getting him too close to the back of your throat if he’s not pointing out, perpendicular to his body, but rather pointing down to his toes or flat against his belly or over to one side.

A further benefit of the “pointing toward his toes” position is that you can look up at him quite easily. Which is a pleasant and friendly-like thing to do.

So there’s a little something for you, to make your weekend move along with a bit of a swing.

(What has this got to do with Beckett? Well. If you do it right, it’ll seem surreal, and also he’ll feel like he’s about to meet Jesus. But mostly I just thought it was an entertaining [if elitist] title.)

excellent at intercourse

You know what no man has ever asked me?

No man has EVER asked me how to be better at penile-vaginal intercourse.

People do ask me all the time how to make sure a woman has an orgasm during intercourse, and I talk about positions and vibrators and maybe not sweating lack of orgasm with intercourse. Fine. Nice. Good. But a woman’s orgasm with intercourse is really more about her plumbing than it is about his technique.

Why, my dears, does no one ask how to be superb at intercourse in and of itself, without worrying about orgasm? Guys, all of you out there with penises who like putting those penises in a vagina: don’t you want her to adore having you inside her? Don’t you want to miss you when you’re not there? Don’t you want her to be just a little bit addicted to your dick? Don’t you?

Maybe you don’t realize that it’s possible to be better or worse at it.

Well, it is. It is possible to be bad or mediocre at intercourse, and it’s possible to be superb at it. Regardless of the measurements of your penis.

How?

Well I’ve been thinking about it and it’s clear to me now that the worst intercourse is that which incuriously pursues your own pleasure without trying something a bit different to see if your partner maybe prefers that. That will typically be the straight in-out at a steady but gradually accelerating rhythm, until you’re jackrabbiting into the vagina, utterly oblivious to the REST of your partner’s body, and bam.

Half the women reading this are now nodding in sympathetic memory.

Good intercourse requires much the same skill used to achieve simultaneous orgasm. Control and attention. And a large and fluent repertoire of techniques.

Control. Teach yourself to maintain a high level of arousal without ejaculating. If you can stay pretty darn aroused for half an hour, that’s a good start. An hour is better.

You can increase your control by practicing the stop-start technique – get aroused, let your arousal diminish, increase again, diminish again… it’s like a technique you use to train yourself to have an hour-long orgasm.

Control is important because in order to be excellent at intercourse, you have to be able to manage your own arousal easily, so that you can focus most of your attention on your partner.

Attention. The quality of the attention you pay to your partner directly relates to the quality of the sex you share. That’s why I wrote the post about how to tell if she’s faking – because it requires paying loving attention to her arousal. Go read that post for details about what to pay attention to. Here I’ll just summarize by saying: breath, muscle tension, facial expression.

Pay attention. Try different things and pay attention to how her whole body responds to it.

Technique. Speed. Rhythm. Depth. Angle of penetration. These are the building blocks of the penetration repertoire. Because every vagina is different, and every vagina changes a lot, I can’t say, “here’s what to do.” I can only say, “Here’s what to try, and PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR PARTNER.”

Very broadly speaking, you’ll tend to want to start slow and get faster, but that’s far from being a (pardon the pun) hard and fast rule. Slow is something too few men try.

Rhythm… look, the steady in-out just isn’t enough. If she’s orgasmic with penetration, that’ll be useful when she’s approaching climax. But try widely varying your thrusting so that there’s no reliable rhythm. It may interest you to know that some of the highest end vibrators have a “random” setting so that she never quite knows what she’s going to get. A few slow strokes, some sudden fast strokes, a tender, slow slow slow slow thrust… No rhythm. Watch her face, feel the tension in her body. It is more than okay to try to make her a little cross-eyed with lust.

Or: try maybe just a few strokes – 4 or 5 – in one position, change positions (by which I mean pull out all the way, turn her over or whatever) and do a few more strokes, change positions again, a few more strokes. And keep paying attention to her. The idea is to make her feel wanted in every way and slightly controlled. Needless to say, an environment of great trust and affection is required to make this work.

Depth becomes a variable once she’s very, very, very aroused. The outer 1/3 of the vagina is the only part that’s particularly sensitive; the rest of the vagina really doesn’t have much sensation. However, when a woman is highly aroused, deep penetration provides stimulation around the cervix. With high levels of arousal some women enjoy it when their partner bumps into their cervix, others find it painful.

The way to increase a woman’s pleasure with intercourse is to add stimulation of the clitoris; I think the most unobstrusive way to do that by changing the angle of penetration. Tilt your hips up (if you’re over her) so that your pubic bone presses against hers. That way, when you thrust, you’re rocking against her clit. Which, let’s be clear, will feel good for her. It’ll give you more shallow penetration. Suck it up, my friend. Because the vagina doesn’t much notice penetration beyond the outer third (see above), depth matters less than angle.

Because you’ll be paying attention to your partner, I don’t need to tell you where the g-spot is (*cough* anterior wall of the vagina *cough*); you’ll find it easily enough because you’ll try different angles of penetration and discover what she likes best. (Not all women are particularly wired for g-spot stimulation.)

A few other things:

  • Globally speaking, women like whole-body contact.
  • It’s nice that you like to look at her, but lots of women would rather be held than looked at.
  • Also, kissing during intercourse is not only permitted but encouraged. Slow, soft, attentive kissing as well as
  • And be sure to pay attention to her whole body, not just her vagina. Her vagina can’t tell you whether or not she likes it; lubrication is not a reliable indicator of arousal.

To conclude: Every vagina is different, and every vagina is different each time you enter it. Buddha tells us you never step into the same river twice; well, you never penetrate the same vagina twice. Over time, you learn the moods of a vagina. It is not simple; it’s sensitive to environmental conditions, sometimes it’s temperamental. Have I mentioned that you have to pay attention?

Not all women are into intercourse or ever will be. But if you’ve got a partner who digs fucking, really, invest some effort into being excellent at it. I hope this is helpful in that endeavor.

make a penis happy

Enough with the political blah blah blah, eh? How about some straight up Sex Advice for Having Better Sex? Here’s one for the folks who have sex with people who have penises.

It’s one that I always think everyone knows and then I’m surprised when it turns out people don’t. Quite simple, but it can make all the difference:

When you’re dealing with a penis, squeeze up, relax down.

Squeeze up.
Relax down.

Whether using a hand or a vagina or a mouth or a mechanical device…

Squeeze up.
Relax down.

(Not so much with anal sex, you mostly just want to let the anal sphincter relax during penetration.)

Squeeze up.
Relax down.

With manual sex, a wrist-twist is a very fine thing to add, especially swirling over the head, where the bulk of the nerve endings are clustered.

With the vaginal muscles, you relax as he (or you) thrusts in, and squeeze as he (or you) pulls out.

With oral sex, you suck on the up, and relax a bit on down. This is particularly useful because it can save wear and tear on your jaw, so you last longer. (Really you should save the sucking for the very very end, and use your hand on the shaft throughout the blowjob.)

Squeeze up.
Relax down.

It can make all the difference.

The reason it works is straightforward mechanics. The shaft doesn’t end at the pubic bone; it extends deep into his abdomen, like this:

penis anatomy

Squeezing up tugs the whole shaft, which feels nice. Squeezing down would sorta jam all that extra, interior shaft down into his body, which, ya know, doesn’t feel as nice.

Squeeze up.
Relax down.

Makes a penis happy. And when the penis in your life is happy, doesn’t the sun shine just a little brighter?