“She Comes First” Book Review
The Feminist Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman
Being a Tantric husband, a cunning linguist myself, and ever curious about new things to add more spice to the Roseland bedroom, I picked up this book — the book on cunnilingus. And while it’s well-written and informative, it left an unfavorable taste in my mouth.
I’ve never been very enthusiastic about cunnilingus, I thought, maybe it’s one of those things (like salsa dancing) that I’d enjoy if I actually got good at it. The book does present a very thorough guide (and I’ll synopsize some of the best stuff here), but it does so in a way that myself and many (non-feminist) men will find downright unpalatable. Consider the author’s Cunnilinguist Manifesto…
“To her according to your abilities, from you according to her needs.”
Inspired, of course, by the Communist Manifesto, “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.” As a right-thinking man, I FUCKING HATE communism — communists murdered my Bulgarian wife’s grandfather in cold blood — so we’re not off to a great start. My aversion to cunnilingus is probably due to it feeling submissive, the same reason that women really seem to enjoy giving fellatio. I don’t look down on men who love performing cunnilingus (well, I would if I were in the same room as them while they were doing it), but it was a monumental blunder on behalf of the author to cram a lot of his feminist inversion agenda ideology into a guide to something that men naturally feel just a little uneasy about.
The book suggests that we…
Dispense with the conventional wisdom that exalts genital penetration as the apogee of sexual pleasure (p. 80)
No thanks, man! Also, I take some umbrage with the subtext of the book — that the woman’s pleasure is more important, that the man is there to serve the woman in bed. Now, my woman’s pleasure is certainly important to me. Seduction is the selfish and generous giving and taking of pleasure, but if you’ve had much sex you’ll know that what’s natural in the bedroom is for the woman to serve the man a bit more — this is why I call my wife my sex slave (and she likes it!) Really, it’s only fair that the woman serves a bit more in the bedroom because seduction is typically (drastically) more work for the man…
- The average man must put in many months or years of painful, tedious, and uncomfortable personal growth efforts — lifting weights in the gym, buying stylish clothes, building a cool social circle, sharpening his verbal skills, learning game, being humbled repeatedly in the unforgiving school of hard knocks — to become sexworthy to an attractive young woman.
- The man overcomes his crippling approach anxiety, soldiers through grueling rejection after grueling rejection to meet a girl interested in dating him, and then must come up with dozens of witty and clever things to say on the date, walking a tightrope between offending and enticing the woman.
- Then the man pays for taxis, dinner, drinks, hotel rooms, vacations, shoes — whatever the woman wants!
- The man must work hard and smart in his career so that he can afford to do the status signaling necessary to attract the kind of woman he desires. In Singapore, they say that a man must have “the four C’s” to get a girlfriend: Car, Cash, Condo, and Credit Card — we’re not in Singapore, but in almost every culture men are expected to work their asses off for years or decades to be worthy of a woman’s love.
And what must the woman do? Shower, smile, laugh, imbibe free drinks, say “yes,” undress, and lie down somewhere soft when the time is right. Getting laid isn’t always a Herculean endeavor for a man, sometimes it’s surprisingly easy, but in the course of most seductions, one of the parties is doing a lot more work — and he deserves to be catered to a little more between the sheets.
Also, I’ll make the case that the man should actually be a little selfish in bed at the beginning of a new relationship as a filtering strategy; truly feminine (girlfriend/wife material) women possess almost supernatural, seemingly-telepathic empathy; a capacity to feel what you are feeling. An inverted masculine-feminist woman who has slept with 30 guys before you is not going to deeply revel in your pleasure, she’s going to want to get hers in bed. Also, you want to give women the chance to tame you some over the course of the relationship. The first few nights together you’re a sexual barbarian — an exciting “lover” — but as you grow in intimacy over time you get more civilized and egalitarian in bed.
If you want to be better in bed, study Tantra…
Tantric techniques will help you overcome premature ejaculation and make you a great lover. Just this last weekend I celebrated my two-year anniversary with my beautiful wife in autumnal Plovdiv, we intentionally abstained from sex for several days to “build up the fire,” and then we made passionate love for 65 minutes — that’s not bad! In contrast to She Comes First, the books about Tantric practice do not stain it with any unnatural, stylish, postmodern ideology; they simply present techniques and a more spiritual approach to lovemaking (and overall well-being) that reinforce the beautiful symmetry of masculine and feminine energies.
Well, that’s enough about my bedroom philosophy and how it clashes with Ian Kerner’s, let’s get pragmatic…
The female orgasm (often) demands more than penetration
Women don’t often come from sex alone…
Any sex therapist will tell you that the number one complaint they hear over and over from women is of an inability to experience orgasm during penis-vagina intercourse. The solution is not simply “more foreplay,” (p. 4)
Women enjoy penetration, they’ll moan, and maybe even fake orgasms to flatter you but if you really want to win a woman’s devotion, you need to spike her Oxytocin, and you should direct your attention in the bedroom to…
With its eight thousand nerve endings (twice as many as the penis), enviable ability to produce multiple orgasms during a single session of sex, and no known purpose other than pleasure, is it any wonder that Masters and Johnson proclaimed the clitoris “a unique organ in the total of humanity”? (p. 8)
the head is the visible part of a woman’s clitoris that often gets referred to as the “love button.” (p. 47)
The clitoris is NOT just that little pleasure button just north of her vagina, it’s a network of nerves that should be stimulated with persistence and patience.
The book addresses the G-spot myth…
But a quick study of anatomy reveals that all orgasms are clitoral. The clitoris is the sexual epicenter, an orgasmic powerhouse in which no sensation goes unnoticed. As Natalie Angier writes of the infamous G-spot, the area of soft tissue just inside the vaginal area, “The roots of the clitoris run deep, after all, and very likely can be tickled through posterior agitation. In other words, the G-spot may be nothing more than the back end of the clitoris.” (p. 26)
To achieve orgasm from penetration you want to increase friction between your cock and the G-spot, this is achieved best in doggy-style, toothpick, cowgirl, and her-butt-on-pillow-legs-in-the-air positions — standard missionary is not great for hitting the G-Spot. In your thrusting, aim for her belly button, and you’ll be aiming to please.
Etymologically, “vagina” originates from a Latin word meaning “a sheath or scabbard for a sword,” reinforcing its relationship to the penis and dependency upon penetration or insertion for broader meaning (p. 41)
If you have much sexual experience you’ve probably tried going down on a woman, you’ve also enjoyed your fair share of blowjobs so you know the difference between a great BJ and a crappy one. So you can understand that knowing the proper technique and practicing it makes all the difference between a mind-blowing experience for your lover and a mediocre one. I’ll add, if you (like me) are a red-blooded man with a little aversion to prostrating yourself before a woman in bed, reframe it with language: call it cunnilingus, not going down, giving head, or worse eating out (which just evokes cannibalism!)
The three assurances
These are important for priming your lady to get the most out of what you’re about to do. In your own words, tell her…
1. Going down on her turns you on; you enjoy it as much as she does.
2. There’s no rush; she has all the time in the world. You want to savor every moment.
3. Her scent is provocative, her taste powerful: it all emanates from the same beautiful essence.
Communicate these Three Assurances physically and verbally; repeat them over and over, in every possible way; say them, show them: embody them. Be strong, be understanding. (pp. 81–82)
The first kiss…
The first kiss upon her vulva should take her breath away, so don’t diminish the sense of anticipation. Instead, kiss the areas around the vulva rather than the clitoris. Use your lips, not your tongue. Smooch. Nibble. But stay away from the clitoral head. (p. 102)
Tips and technical points…
Avoid: During foreplay avoid direct contact with her genitals for a minimum of ten to fifteen minutes. Stimulate other parts of her body; let the oxytocin wash over her and pervade her bloodstream. (p. 87)
A pillow propped under her butt will help with blood flow to the pelvic region, as well as provide you with better access to her genitalia (p. 104)
As for your tongue, it should easily be able to rest against her vaginal entrance and cover its entire expanse from top to bottom. (p. 105)
You’ll know you’re both in the right position when she’s able to comfortably look down the length of her body and watch you work, and you’re able to look up, without breaking the flow of action, and make eye contact with her. (p. 106)
When you do stimulate the head for the first time, press the soft, wet tip of your tongue into it and then hold the position. Like a gentle mist, engulf the head in the moistness of your tongue. She might shudder from the shock, but continue to hold the position unless she tells you to stop. (p. 110)
Tongue Tip: As an enhancement to these routines, perform them with her legs in the air. Get a firm grip on her thighs and raise both legs so that only her butt is touching the bed. Lick her vulva tenderly and gingerly and note the tension in her legs and pelvic area as she pushes against your hands. This “pushing against a point of resistance” is a key element in developing hypertonicity — the muscular tension that contributes to sexual response and orgasmic release. (p. 121)
Press your thumb against her clitoral head and gently flick it from side to side as you penetrate her with short shallow thrusts. Or press the shaft of your penis against her clitoris and then gently thrust between the folds of her labia without ever entering her. (p. 96)
Mons pubis (external), or the pubic mound, is located just above the clitoral cluster. Massaging the mons pubis with the base of your palm stimulates the clitoral cluster from above. (p. 109)
Be still, my dude…
To that end, a flat still tongue pressed softly, later firmly, into her vulva will prove to be one of your most powerful positions. Make sure that the interval between licks is long enough to let each one resonate fully and completely. (p. 117)
This is one of the most underestimated and underutilized tongue positions. It’s great for inducing orgasm, but more important, it’s also great as a breather between tongue strokes. A flat, still tongue is like the intermission at a play, or the break between scenes. (p. 131)
…you’re giving her something to reach for that ultimately eludes her grasp. (pp. 124–125)
Let her move
Let her push and grind against your flat, still tongue — take it all in — and then spring back with a series of fast vertical and diagonal tongue strokes. Lick her senseless with a short burst of energy and then return to the flat, still tongue, waiting for yet another opportune moment to spring to life again. (pp. 131–132)
keep a small towel handy and use your free hand to give your face a quick wipe-down. (p. 144)
In addition to observing these visible signs of arousal during the preorgasm phase, you will principally recognize the female orgasm through the spasmodic, involuntary contractions of her genital area, also known as pelvic thrusting. (p. 169)
Once she’s in the preorgasm phase, bring her legs as close together as possible. (p. 158)
Good to know!
How long should cunnilingus last?
a cunnilingus session should last anywhere from fifteen to forty-five minutes on average, not including foreplay. (p. 128)
One of the main complaints of women in regard to men’s oral habits is that they’re too fast and rough. So if you “tongue-fuck” her, or flick her clit like you’re a porn star, in order to move things along, you’ll likely derail the entire process and possibly even hurt her. (p. 151)
Sex lifehack: As men, we like to do things fast, but the bedroom is not the place for haste. It’s hard to keep track of time while making love, what feels like enough foreplay to you, is often 20–30 minutes less than what she needs. A timer is a decent idea, but you probably don’t want to be fumbling with a timer app on your smartphone between having that last drink and undressing each other in the bed-chamber, so get a sexytime playlist and mentally note which song is about 25 or 30 minutes in. When that tune comes on you know it’s about time to transition from foreplay to sex or cunnilingus. As a (statistically exceptional and) patient lover you should aim for the sex itself to last over 20 minutes so also note which song is about 50 minutes in.
About half-way through this book, I was ready to start practicing some of what I was learning, so I laid Mrs. Roseland down, set a 15-minute timer, and got down to business. I articulated the assurances to her but my visage betrayed me. She kept giggling as I was licking away and intermittently holding still down there. My wife finally told me, “You have this tortured look on your face like a little boy being made to eat his vegetables!”
I was determined to try out what I’d learned and get through at least 15 minutes BUT I really didn’t look like I was enjoying it, apparently. My timidity about cunnilingus was written all over my face — which kind of defeats the purpose of doing it! So if you really don’t enjoy it, don’t do it, because it will show on your face. My wife suggested that I put my “pianists’ fingers” to work and master fingering — that, I can get excited about!
The vagina is not a “swamp”
a woman’s genitals are a self-cleaning system — more sanitary than many other parts of the body, including the mouth. One of the reasons a woman is often lubricated, even when she’s not aroused, is that these secretions are part of the vagina’s natural way of keeping it bacteria-free. (p. 68)
It’s been said that a woman’s genitals are as clean as a fresh carton of yogurt, and this comparison is often made because the kind of bacteria found in yogurt, lactobacilli, are also found in a woman’s vaginal secretions. (p. 68)
I’ll try to keep this in mind when trying cunnilingus again, I love yogurt!
Make a little more noise…
So if you tend to be the quiet type in bed, untie your tongue and verbalize your erotic feelings. (p. 92)
Men tend to be quieter in bed, and women like quiet lovers about as much as we do. It makes things a lot hotter when you’re both making some noise. Interesting factoid, men get stronger erections when women are moaning louder, if you ever have a floppy cock at an inopportune moment in the bedroom, encourage her to speak up a bit, and you’ll firm up.
Thou shalt cuddle!
Don’t put a damper on an otherwise brilliant performance. An extra fifteen minutes spent cuddling, snuggling, and whispering sweet nothings is the path to greatness, the road to the sexual “big leagues”; (p. 182)
On fake orgasms
In fact, some sex therapists will recommend to women who have trouble experiencing orgasms that they do just that — fake their way through one in order to stimulate and trick the body into experiencing the real thing. (p. 170)
The 69 position is non-optimal
you are endeavoring to provide stimulation from the wrong point of attack. Rather than approaching her vulva from the south (bottom up), you’re coming in from the north (top down). Regardless of who’s on top, you’ll have little use of your hands and it will be difficult to use your tongue to comfortably service the major parts of her clitoris. (p. 101)
CAUTION: Never, under any circumstances, blow into a woman’s vagina as though trying to fill it with air. Doing so is seriously dangerous. Blowing into a woman’s vagina may cause an embolism and lead to death. Breathe on her; blow lightly on her; never blow into her. (p. 113)
According to the Sex in America Survey
As it turns out, promiscuity triggers a domino effect of risky behaviors: “The more partners an individual has, the more likely he or she is to have sex with people who themselves have many partners, the more likely he or she is to have sex with virtual strangers, the more likely she or he is to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol during some sexual encounters, and while it is more likely that a condom was used, the rate of increased use of a condom does not seem great enough to offset the higher risks of infection.” (p. 76)
according to the Sex in America survey, three out of four of married women say they always or usually reach climax during sex, compared to fewer than two out of three of single women. In large part, the success of the married vs. the unmarried comes from an understanding of each other’s body and the knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. (p. 179)
The book has several chapters to freak you out about STDs, yes you can get and transmit nasty bugs from oral sex. The book exhorts the reader to use condoms or dental dams when having casual oral sex with strangers, which just strikes me as something that almost nobody will do. I’ve had a lot of protected sex in my life, women always seem to be enthusiastic about performing bare-back blowjobs. If you’re a single dude out to slay poon or a pick up artist I’d urge you to learn the facts about promiscuity (or just stop and think about it soberly for a damn moment before jumping in bed with the next stranger). To be (oxymoronically) “responsibly promiscuous” you need all these layers (condoms, dental dams, contraception, “affirmative consent,” regular STD tests, etc) of awkward, unsexy protection between you and impulsive decisions made in a moment of sweaty passion that can royally fuck up your life. Decades of pop-culture propaganda has made monogamy “uncool” but it really is the solution to hotter, better sex. Meet a nice girl (with a low notch count — less than five previous sexual partners) and make her your exclusive girlfriend (or marry her) and you can dispense with all these pleasure-robbing half-measures trying to make sex “safe.”
Skanks smell fishy. Yes, this isn’t a baseless stereotype…
But if a woman has unprotected sex with one or more new partners, the body may not be able to restore balance as quickly as possible as a result of immunological factors. So in some sense, smell may be indicative of promiscuity, and is probably why the Kamasutra describes licentious women as smelling like fish. (p. 70)
Have you ever pondered this…
Who enjoys sex more?
Research cited in the book indicates that women enjoy sex more (in general, of course, it depends on the woman, the man, the relationship, and a million other things.)
Masters and Johnson’s declaration that a woman has “an infinitely greater capacity for sexual response than a man ever dreamed of.” (pp. 64–65)
According to Greek mythology…
when Zeus and Hera went to the hermaphrodite Tiresias in order to determine who experiences more pleasure from sex, men or women, Tiresias responded, “If the sum of love’s pleasure adds up to ten — nine parts go to women, only one to men.” (p. 22)
I’ve long suspected that women actually enjoy sex more because of evolutionary psychology. Historically, at least, sex has been riskier for women than men, a lot riskier, so it would make sense that evolution would reward them with greater pleasure. Why then are women seemingly less promiscuous than men? I wouldn’t say they are less promiscuous, I would just say that they are more selective because of the risk entailed. As evidence for my little theory, I would just point to the obvious, in “first world” countries where sex is less risky for women, they tend to be a lot more promiscuous.
Be present in bed, my dude
The book ends with an evocative philosophical allusion to The Unbearable Lightness of Being…
An 80s classic worth a watch with your significant other…
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, comes from a meditation on the philosophy of Nietzsche, who said that we should live every moment of our lives as though we were sentenced to repeat it over and over, forever and ever, for all eternity. We should live each moment as though we were creating an eternal, unchangeable work of art. (p. 204)
We may not be able to live each moment as though we were going to repeat it over and over for all eternity, but we can make love that way; we can kiss our beloved knowing that we want that kiss, like a pebble cast into a still lake, to ripple and undulate for all eternity. (pp. 204–206)
That’s a beautiful sentiment, the next time you find yourself in the intimate embrace of a woman, surrender to the timelessness beckoning in that sweet, wet moment!
I rated She Comes First 3 stars
The book is well-written and worth reading if cunnilingus is a tool that you want to have in your armamentarium as a lover. But I have to detract two stars because…
- The ideology being pushed unnecessarily — I’m sure I’ll try cunnilingus again, but for the rest of my life I’m going to associate it with feminism and communism thanks to this book.
- The book should have had more illustrations elucidating the techniques; when it comes to this sort of thing, pictures are a must.
- Several of the chapters towards the beginning of the book are pretty dry and academic — put this stuff in the appendix!
- Frankly, you could jump right to the how-tos and techniques in the second part of the book, which starts at chapter 21.
- One of my problems with cunnilingus has always been that my mouth got tired after a few minutes — the book should have addressed this issue.
My wife did read the companion book that Kerner wrote for women, Passionista: The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Pleasuring a Man, about blowjobs. She did learn some (delightful!) things from the book but she said that Kerner’s feminism detracted from it and was weirded out by his constant suggestion of woman-on-man anal play — Ian Kerner really seems to want women to stick their fingers in your butts, my dudes!