Sex and brothers: what turns men on - and off
Date: Sunday, February 12 @ 00:00:00 MST
Topic: Black Habits Articles


(Ebony, 07/97) AT LAST count, more lies had been told about Black men and sex than any other subject. The biggest . lie, spread by both critics of Black men and supporters of Black men, is that Black men are perpetually turned on and that nothing turns them off.

The next biggest lie, spread by the same people, is that Black men are strangers to both deep emotion and true love, and that they use the idea of sex to keep from dealing with the true demands of real intimacy.

Almost all evidence--from White and Black Kinseys, barber shop experts and knowing Black women--indicates that the subject of Black men and sex is one of the most misunderstood subjects in the world. The truth, experts say, is less sensational and more prosaic. Black men, like other men, have special needs, but they have, in general, the same hunger for intimacy and appreciation as Black women.

As for the supersex myth that no true Brother believes and that every true Brother wants everybody else to believe, let us say diplomatically that many, perhaps most, perhaps almost all Blacks have a more soulful approach to sex, perhaps because of a unique history going back thousands of years. But the way they express their uniqueness is a function, to coin a phrase, of their individual histories.

To clear up any confusion and build a bridge between the male and female camps, which many times are far apart on the issues, three African-American male authors and relationship counselors attempt to dispel the myths and dish out the facts about what really turns Black men on and off.

Let's first look at what turns a Brother on:

An ego boost and assurances he's No. 1: If a woman wants to turn on a Black man, compliment him, especially during times when thing aren't going too well. Kicking him when he's down helps no one, says Gary McCants, a Columbus, Ohio, relationship counselor and author of CAn We As Black Men And Women Really Trust Each Other? A female should not be "emotionally self-centered and verbally critical during a time when a male is experiencing financial failures, problems at the office or with family members and is in need of his soul mate's support," he says. "When a woman, through words and actions, treats her partner special, thus letting him know he is appreciated," that is a turnon.

A woman comfortable with her own sexuality: In public, she's the perfect woman--graceful, confident, reserved at times, naughty at others. And privately, she knows how to please herself and her man. "A man who is very comfortable with his sexuality is more likely to find someone who is adventurous," says Dr. Derek Hopson, a Los Angeles clinical psychologist and author of Friends, Lovers and Soul Mates, A Guide To Better Relationships Between Black Men And Women. "A man often is attracted to a woman who is comfortable with her sexuality, someone who can laugh, is playful and is in tune with her sensuality and sexuality, a woman who seems to be very relaxed and expressive.... When a woman is being sexually open and aggressive, it creates some mystery and enticement."

It's important for a woman to be the initiator of intimacy from time to time. Black men like to feel desired, and when they don't, they become self-conscious and try harder to make themselves desirable. Soon that assertiveness will turn into resentment. "He won't give up . . .but he will resent it," says Dr. Ronn Elmore, a relationship therapist, ordained minister (who discusses sexual relationships only within the confines of marriage) and author of How to Love a Black Man. Intimacy "then becomes mechanical and not very satisfying to anyone."

Good Grooming: Men, like women, place a high value on their companion looking good. From well-manicured fingers and toes to neat and stylish hair and fresh breath, an overall well-groomed appearance is a definite turnon for men. While clean-shaven legs and arms are important to some men, others prefer women with hair in these places. "Sex being as intimate as it is, you want it to be with a well-kempt person," Hopson says. "Black men want someone they can look forward to getting close to."

A nice body: As shallow as it may sound, and as much as men will lie about it, most continue to be turned on by women with shapely bodies. While some men say big is in, all men have their preferences when it comes to a woman's physical attributes. "Men are interested in visuals, and increasingly, women are too," Dr. Elmore says. "But women continue to be more turned on by things...that allow them to use their imagination."

Here are what the experts say are definite turnoffs:

Attending to his every need: Although Black men won't admit it, they are many times turned off by women who cater to their every need. Want to get rid of a man? Do everything he wants; be everything that he dreamed his perfect woman would be. Relationship experts encourage women to be themselves and not try to make themselves over to please their man.

"A man will say he wants certain characteristics and wants a certain kind of woman, but when he gets her, he wants something else," Hopson says. "A man who is truly satisfied with his woman is one who has learned how to, and is willing to, grow with his partner, even if that means getting used to her doing things that he doesn't necessarily agree with."

A long "track record": Another turnoff is a woman who doesn't value intimacy as something special. Experts say men are turned off by an "experienced" woman. Hopson says: "In general, men and women are equally as interested in sex, but men want women to treat it as a more special event than they [do]," he says. "Men want a woman who's a good lovemaker. Ration it out and treat it special."

Words that get in the way: As harsh as it may sound, during times leading up to intimacy, most men want women to stop all the talk and tend to the matter at hand. Talking to; a man is fine, if it is sensuous talk. But the talk about whether or not he thinks you're pretty or why he doesn't spend more quality time with you is out of place during romantic times, Dr. Elmore says. "Too much talk during or leading up to lovemaking is distracting for men," he says. "Men tend to be very focused. It's not that talk is not important, but it tends to distract focus. Some women tend to feel exploited and begin to think a man simply wants them for their body, but they have to realize that the things men value most, they tend to focus on more, and unfortunately, words sometimes get in his way."

Comparisons to some" one else: Hopson says a definite turnoff for a man is a woman who constantly compares him to an ex-boyfriend, ex-husband, her girlfriend's man or anybody else. Comparing how a man measures up [and doesn't] is a sure way to make him spit fire. Black women "have to be careful not to stereotype or generalize," Hopson says. "A woman can't assume a man is going to be a certain way because other men have been that way. Black men are complex creatures and have to be treated as such."

Hopson's advice to women: Put those stop watches and measuring tapes back under the bed for good, and enjoy your man for who he is, not who you think he should be. And most importantly, don't believe the hype. If your Superman turns into minuteman in bed, chances are your girlfriend's man does the same, no matter what she says. "Communication is key," Hopson says. "Sex is such a sensitive topic that it is important to be sensitive about it. It takes a woman tuning in to what sex means to the male. Men tend to use sex as a way to obtain intimacy and in that way try to connect and establish closeness. But women see it as the culmination of a closeness that is already established," and consequently are more comfortable with using comparisons.

"Comparing him to anyone...in the past, present or future is wrong," Dr. Elmore says.

"Whether its comparing emotional attributes, physical attributes--any kind of comparison brings another individual too close to the relationship, and as the saying goes, `Three's a crowd.'"

A woman with a chip on her shoulders, and everywhere else. She's a woman who turns every conversation and every event, even sex, into a verbal "Thrilla in Manila." The No. 1 topic and complaint in all-male gatherings is the woman who is so unsure of herself that she is always defending herself and competing with and against her man, verbally and otherwise. There is a fine line here that both Brothers and Sisters must find and respect, but the woman who is so sure of herself that she can relax and make her companion relax is seldom without a relaxed companion.

A Show-me-the-money woman: A definite turnoff is the woman who determines whether she will be intimate with a man based on how much money he has and how much of it he spends on her. Relationship experts say many en are only interested in being intimate with a man who has money.





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