In & Out
Q: While I do not meet the clinical definition of a fetishist (whereby I’d have to be in erotic contact with the fetish object or body part in order to attain orgasm), I do have an outsized attraction to the female foot. I’m not into shoes or anything like that, but an attractive pair of female feet in sandals or bare can make me uncomfortably and sometimes embarrassingly aroused. The problem is that summer is a weird time of erotic overload brought on by the sight of a body part most people apparently do not think twice about. I hate winter. I consulted with a therapist to try desensitizing myself to the female foot, but to no avail. Apart from such obvious things as not staring, is there any advice that you can give me about coping?
A: Although I can sympathize, you simply have to learn to live in a world where you may spy the occasional sandaled foot. Many men feel aroused or get erections when faced with body parts they find exciting; it’s just that these body parts tend to be breasts, butts or decent-looking camel toe (if you’ve never been to www.ratemycameltoe.com, today is your day). You happen to like feet. Yes, there are differences in level of sexual arousal among people and even day to day, but we still have to learn to control ourselves. “Avoid staring” is not a bad strategy. Thinking about nonarousing things (like horrendously ugly feet or a smelly co-worker) to counteract your arousal might work. Apart from desensitization, some therapists (if you’re willing to try again) suggest behavioral-modification techniques, like snapping a rubber band on your wrist every time you stare at feet. It works for some folks. Or try positive reinforcement: Attempt to not stare at feet for a small amount of time each day, and then build up as it gets easier. If you can make it for 15 minutes or an hour without staring, reward yourself later on with ice cream, a massage or 15 minutes of Internet foot porn. Whatever works.
Q: My wife, who’s in her mid-twenties, has never had an orgasm. I have read the usual articles that say the majority of women’s first orgasms are through masturbation. So I’ve tried not to pressure on her, but at the same time bought a couple books on masturbation, a female masturbation video and a vibrator—all at different times over the course of two years. She says she doesn’t like to masturbate and that she’d rather have sex instead. When we have sex, I extend oral foreplay knowing that orgasms are tough to come by via penetration. But she shortens the foreplay and wants to have sex right away. My thought now is to withhold sex so that she’ll have more of a desire to masturbate?
A: It sounds like you and your wife have different priorities when it comes to sex. Your primary goal (over the last two years) has been to get her to orgasm. She apparently doesn’t need an orgasm to enjoy sex. Maybe she’s in it for nonorgasmic physical pleasure or for a feeling of connection with you. Both of these are completely valid reasons for wanting to be sexual with another person. So why the pressure on orgasm? It doesn’t seem to be for your wife’s good. If you were really focused on giving her what she wants, I’d think you would give her no-pressure sex rather than add pressure via masturbation propaganda gifts or withholding sex. Why do you want her to orgasm so badly? Do you feel less manly because your wife hasn’t had an orgasm? Move on. This has nothing to do with your masculinity or sexual prowess. It does, however, relate to your ability to see beyond your own needs and to be more responsive to your wife and what she wants. If you’re a regular reader, you know that I am all about orgasms, pleasure and masturbation, but I am also all about partners being caring and considerate of each other’s needs. She may or may not ever have an orgasm, but she is probably more likely to enjoy sex with you if you stop focusing on her orgasm and masturbation habits, and start focusing on your wife. With the pressure gone—and a focus on pleasure (not orgasm)—one day she may even have an orgasm.
Q: I was intrigued by your request for input on the massage topic [In & Out, TOC 80]. I am a 42-year-old male and have enjoyed a wide variety of massage experiences. I like a good, legitimate therapeutic massage (for sports injuries and back pain). I have also visited places where massage is a pretense for what’s essentially a brothel, but frankly that’s not my scene (too sleazy, rushed and risky). But there is a middle ground: practitioners who have the skills of a certified massage therapist, but who are also comfortable segueing into a sexual experience. This is my ideal situation: the first 60 minutes, a real good rubdown of the back, shoulders and legs, and in the last 30 minutes, the touch becomes lighter, focusing on the buttocks and upper/inner thighs. Arousal builds (gentle brushing of the genitals and testicles), then the lube is applied and I enjoy a slow, unrushed hand job. Maybe some anal stimulation or prostate massage. A few minutes to catch my breath, then a hot shower, and I leave incredibly relaxed, calm and satisfied from both a physical/muscular and sensual standpoint. I sleep like a baby that night. It’s an opportunity for a guy to completely relax and focus on his pleasure. No pressure to perform, no judgments, no foreplay or afterplay requested or needed. It’s just about me, and dammit, I don’t need to feel guilty about that. For me, the therapist needs to be female, but not a “hot babe.” I have had great sessions with a woman who I wouldn’t be attracted to in a you’re-hot-let’s-fuck way, but she was kind and nurturing, had strong, gentle hands and made hand-love to my penis as if there was nothing else in the world she’d rather do. The mainstream massage establishment would certainly poo-poo my ideal massage as unprofessional (and illegal) but this is a good-for-the-body-and-soul experience. It’s a good living for the provider, who can get $200-plus per hour, and she doesn’t need to take off her clothes or suck a dick. And it’s pretty safe on the safe-sex scale (as you said yourself). I think it should be legal and accepted.
A: Not only did I ask for information from erotic massage lovers, but other readers asked me to share what I learned, too. This e-mail summed it up the best. I can understand wanting a sexual experience focused on pleasure rather than performance, particularly because so many people are focused on getting their partners to do a specific sexual thing like have an orgasm (like our married friend above) or last longer, and pressure to perform can be exhausting. I think the tough part for others is wondering what might happen if their well-intentioned partner went in for a regular massage and the therapist started “exploring.” Would the partner give in to the penis hand-love, or say stop? No one wants to be on constant alert wondering if his or her partner will cheat or be sexual with others, and it’s hard for some to consider that a salon might be a likely spot. I heard from plenty of erotic-massage fans, but have yet to hear from the massage therapists themselves. Hit me up.
Send letters to Debby Herbenick, mph c/o Time Out Chicago, 247 South State Street, 17th floor, Chicago, IL 60604, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.