In The journey from the genitals to the heart, I wrote how the well-known journey from the head to the heart has a lesser-known, parallel journey that brings our sexuality under the sway of the heart.

This journey seems to kick in automatically when we undertake conscious personal development work on integrating our wounded sexuality. It’s not a journey for the faint-hearted, for several reasons:

  • This journey leaves no stone unturned. Everything gets uprooted. No aspect of sexuality is spared, no matter how much you may wish to avoid or deny it. The sexual closets will open. The skeletons will rattle out.
  • This journey goes to the end of the line. Nothing is dealt with superficially. There is nothing you can hide in a psychological bottom drawer somewhere that will escape scrutiny. Root cause resolution only. Your sexuality will be scraped to the bone.
  • Sexuality is a feminine energy. This makes it naturally a tricky energy for men to handle. Men long for it but don’t innately know how to work with it safely, comfortably, respectfully and consensually.

Current male sexual behaviour is a watered-down version of early patriarchal programming where sex was inherently violent and possessive. (See A brief history of shame)

Chattels

In societies where women were regarded as chattels, laws made by men for men guaranteed sexual access to wives, servants, prostitutes and slaves, and the right to rape the women of their defeated foes. Patriarchies created socially legitimate ways of venting male lust so that society remained cohesive enough to survive in an age of constant warfare.

I doubt this sex involved much pleasure. It would’ve been mostly brief, forceful and emotionally distant. In Distant View from a Minaret, a short story by Alifa Rifaat, a man refuses to prolong sex beyond his own orgasm to satisfy his wife. Sex was inherently dirty, a shameful necessity, cut short as soon as the man expresses his pent-up sexual frustrations.

Several thousand years of such behaviour have left a deep impression on the collective male unconscious. The worst excesses of patriarchy have gone, but its imprint remains. I’ve written about this in a series of posts on Sex in patriarchy.

When men heal their sexuality, the age-old conditioning in their unconscious comes into conflict with the three factors above. The result is a long, profoundly challenging journey to overcome thousands of years of sexually destructive programming and implement a new, pro-feminine sexual paradigm.

The result is a long, profoundly challenging journey to overcome thousands of years of sexually destructive programming and implement a new, pro-feminine sexual paradigm.

Men struggle with this journey because:

1 Men are disconnected from their sexuality

In The Alphabet versus the Goddess, Leonard Shlain articulates how the rise of patriarchy saw humanity expand its left-brain functioning to the point that we now have hemispheric dominance by that lobe.

The left lobe contains much of our intellectual processing and has given rise to marvellous inventions like cameras that can take pictures of naked women (see #3). It’s also separated us from a lot of our right brain, instinctive programming, including our sexuality.

This is bad enough for women, for whom sexuality is a native energy, but for men it’s a catastrophe. We are largely disconnected from our genitals and have no idea how to manage our sexual energy other than spurting it out in often-inappropriate ways.

2 Men are in emotional lockdown

So how do men deal with this inability to handle sexuality safely?

Men have been conditioned for thousands of years to avoid emotional stuff and be the strong dude that kills/makes money/eats/fucks (circle as appropriate) without sentiment. That’s because as soon as you get sentimental, the ability to kill (physically or financially) suffers, and this threatens survival.

As a result men are poorly equipped for deep emotional and sexual change. They have no frame of reference for it and little modelling. For most men, displaying any kind of vulnerability is still an absolute no-no. Hence:

3 It’s easier to look at porn

A men’s coach recently told me that every single one of his clients had issues with porn. No man will make it through emotional awakening without having issues with his sexuality, and probably with porn.

Dodging their emotional lockdown (see #2), men can get a sexual kick without having to deal with all the sticky stuff of actual sex and, well, sentient emotional creatures such as other human beings. For many late-patriarchal males, shorn of sexual confidence and dogged by sexual phobias, porn may not even feel like that poor a substitute.

The journey from the genitals to the heart does not let you get away with this. The urge to view porn is a pointer to the psychosexual wounds inside us. They are surfacing through the porn, looking for acceptance and release. They are communicating with us using the most intelligent language at their disposal.

Porn becomes a tool that men can use to unpick their deepest sexual wounds as they release the unconscious patriarchal sexual paradigm.

But let’s assume our evolving male, struggling with all the issues above, makes it into bed (or, hopefully, somewhere more exciting than that) with a partner. His sexual healing to-do list is about to get longer.

4 Men are afraid to initiate sex

Initiating sex has historically been a male prerogative. Men decided when they wanted sex; women were expected to submit.

As recently as a century ago, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi wrote: “When a man calls his wife to engage in sexual intercourse with him and she does not go and because of this he sleeps away angrily; the angels continue cursing this woman until the morning.” Women who didn’t submit were punished; those who initiated sex were shamed as temptresses and were also punished.

That has thankfully changed the door with the growing recognition of the sovereignty of women. Men still have old patriarchal programming clunking around and this shift in gender rights leaves some of them confused at an unconscious level. They want sex but, uncertain of the boundaries and lacking the emotional intelligence to negotiate consensually, find it easier to avoid.

5 Men don’t show up emotionally

This is a further manifestation of emotional lockdown (#2). Men aren’t used to showing up emotionally: to bring their deepest selves to the party along with their bodies. (See Is there a hole at the heart of your relationship?)

Men may turn up physically yet be emotionally distant. For today’s increasingly emotionally literate women, this is deeply frustrating. For men, it’s absolutely frightening—or else they can’t see what the problem is.

Let’s move on and get some sex underway. Our evolving male has plenty of other dysfunctions he will have to overcome on his journey.

6 Men are petrified of bra clips

I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s a thing. Braclipophobia should be a word.

The damn things are tricky enough by design. Throw in that all the blood has left your brain to swell your penis and they become well nigh impossible to undo.

The damn things are tricky enough by design. Throw in that all the blood has left your brain to swell your penis and they become well nigh impossible to undo. A woman once told me that she struggled with bra clips so don’t beat yourself up too much. Someone should run evening classes on this.

Every second spent fumbling with the bra clip is a second that the man’s libido is diminishing and his aroused penis is losing interest. Eventually his partner takes pity on his pathetic schoolboy fumbling. Off comes her exquisite lingerie, which makes her feel like a goddess—but he simply wants out of the way because:

7 Male sexuality is goal-oriented

Historically, the successful patriarchal male killed his enemies, sexed his foes’ women, and procreated to perpetuate his conquering bloodline. This behaviour lives on in diluted form: a lot of male sexual behaviour is unconsciously focused on penetration and ejaculation (see Sex in patriarchy, Part II – penetrate and ejaculate).

Our basic definition of sex is based on whether penetration occurs. The phrase ‘to sleep with’—note that sex is so shameful it can’t be mentioned—requires a penis to penetrate a vagina. Otherwise something other than sex happened.

This focus on penetration and ejaculation is a totally male-centric construct and is equally disempowering for both genders. It often results, as Alifa Rifaat notes in Distant View from a Minaret, on the man climaxing before his partner has been satisfied and the sex ending.

(In all fairness, the penis is biologically designed to go limp after ejaculation to stop it pumping the freshly deposited semen out of the vagina.)

Sexual healing introduces men to the wider potential of sex—of which actual penetration is only a part. I once danced with a woman, both of us naked. The feel of our bodies brushing against each other to the rhythm of the music was deeply sensuous. No sex happened. It wasn’t necessary—the experience was totally satisfying by itself, with no need for penetration or ejaculation.

Of course, penetration can’t happen if…

8 Erectile dysfunction

…prevents it.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is one of the great ailments of Late Patriarchal Man. He lives in a world of rapidly changing male roles and expectations, and struggles to come to terms with it. Faced with emotionally and sexually empowered women, his traditional role as the sole provider under threat, sex becomes a frightening arena where it was once simply a matter of turning up with a hard-on.

Cut sexual anxiety. Cue ED. Cue Viagra.

The journey from the genitals to the heart teaches men to show up, emotionally and sexually. When they do, the bedroom ceases to be a place of fear.

9 Premature ejaculation

This is ED’s companion in ailing Late Patriarchal Man. The entertainment and advertising worlds bombard him with titillating images. His ancient patriarchal programming tells him he should be conquering women by the—not sure what the appropriate unit of measure is here.

Yet he has also been programmed to regard sex as deeply shameful. A collision occurs in his unconscious, between his excited desire for sex and his sense that that desire is socially transgressive. Result: excited turns to excitable; excitable escalates to over-excitable. Premature ejaculation happens to short-circuit the sex act and soothe his confused, over-excited psyche.

The crippling emotional mechanics of premature ejaculation can be decoupled by recognising and releasing the unconscious shame we carry around sex. Then sex can carry on to a successful climax, at which point he feels:

10 The urge to bolt after climaxing

In the romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, Harry (played by Billy Crystal) tellingly observes: “Go back to her place, you have sex, and the minute you’re finished, you know what goes through your mind? How long do I have to lie here and hold her before I can get up and go home—is 30 seconds enough?”

Sex has been shamed since the dawn of patriarchy. When men tackle their shame, everything that’s emotionally damaged in any way comes to light.

For men, that shows up in Harry’s fuck-and-flight dictat above. We are ashamed of our bodies. We are ashamed of our genitals. We are ashamed of their urges. As soon as we vent them, we feel the urge to bolt.

The journey from the genitals to the heart teaches us to release all shame and BE in our bodies: these pissing, shitting, farting, fucking flesh machines that are the only means by which we can experience the miracle of life.

The journey from the genitals to the heart teaches us to release all shame and BE in our bodies: these pissing, shitting, farting, fucking flesh machines that are the only means by which we can experience the miracle of life.

Let’s say our evolving male had made it this far. He’s surmounted his emotional lockdown, got into bed, got it up and had sex with some degree of satisfaction and intimacy for both partners. Is he home and dry?

No. The worst realization awaits him.

11 Deep down, men are still victimizers

Thousands of years ago, men seized sex as it suited them. That behaviour has gone away, but the programming that gave rise to it has never consciously been erased. It’s still there, lurking in the dregs of the unconscious of every male alive, an untamed beast that bites when approached too closely.

When our intrepid male gets far enough along his journey towards emotional and sexual wholeness, he will approach that beast. It’ll start to leak into his life, showing up as inappropriate behaviour and projections of toxic masculinity.

Deep, deep down, there’s a part of him that longs for the days when men seized resources from their enemies and sex from their enemies’ wives and daughters.

This standard patriarchal modus operandi is documented in the Bible: “Sisera and his troops are finding treasures to bring back—a woman, or maybe two, for each man” (Judges 5:30).

In spiritual terms, this violent expression of strength and intelligence is called the ‘lower masculine’. Those same qualities can be expressed in ‘higher’ ways that support and protect the feminine. That’s how masculinity works after the distortions are removed.

But to get there, we must confront this ancient, insatiable horror within. I’ve written about this in The Alien inside us – the lower masculine victimizer. It’s perhaps the most harrowing moment on the journey, certainly for men.

Nothing of our patriarchal past can survive the journey from the genitals to the heart. Only by undertaking this journey—and having the fortitude to go to the end of the line—can we heal the “shambles” described by psychologist R.D. Laing and bring our heart, head and genitals into an integrated whole.