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The Faces of Love and Sex

The Love World

The Sexual Stage

Sex and The senses

Common Sex Positions

Variations - Standard and Exotic

Other Entry Ports

Rhythm and Release

Love Songs

Love Machines and Love Potions


Sexual insight and Destiny:  Finding New Fulfillment Afterword

Common Sex Positions

How many sex Positions are there?

The answer to this question will depend, of course, on the criteria used to define the differences between one position and another. oriental literature abounds in works on the subject, many of them dating back to ancient times. One of the most logical and at the same time comprehensive of these treatises is by the ancient Chinese "Master of the Cave Profound," as he called himself. "Examining the postures of intercourse ," he wrote, "there are no more than thirty ways." But he goes on to describe nine styles of intercourse based on the slowness or quickness of the action and the rhythm and direction of the movement involved. Each of these styles can be used with any one of the thirty positions so that when positions and styles are multiplied together, there are nearly 300 possible patterns of the sexual stage intercourse.

Some sex manuals describe even more sex positions. Many of these variants involve only differences in the placing of the legs or arms. In addition, many of the listed variations depend on the use of props - chairs, stools, swings- as is also the case with many of the positions described in Oriental manuals. The placing of arms and legs or the use of props can have definite significance, as we shall see. But significance is the crucial word here. It is not number of positions that I am concerned with but rather the phenomenological meaning of those positions and the ways in which they reflect the essential behavioral structure of individual human beings.

From the phenomenological point of view there are four basic positions, each of which must be looked at from the perspective of both participants, the female and the male. All other positions -and indeed, there are hundreds of possibilities - are variations on these basic four. Some of the variations on these basic four. Some of the variations are so subtle as to be of little import in expressing the basic couple orientations, while others are far more telling and do indicate a substantial modifications in the significance of the basic position. In this chapter I will be dealing with the four basic position. A subsequent chapter will be devoted to the variations standard, some of them quite imaginative. In may examination of the unusual but not infrequent positions, I will present a range of several dozen variants that will allow couples to analyze on their own any additional configurations.

In Sleep Positions I dealt with the individual's bodily relationship to the geography of the bed, the fundamental terrain of the sleep world. Only in terms of couple sleep was the additional element of the relationship to the partner discussed. Here, however, I will be concentrating on the relationship between the sexual partners, on how the bodily attitudes of the couple during intercourse reflect their overall everyday relationship and indicate each partner's individual requirements for entering into the love world.

It is important to make clear from the outset that the significance of a particular position derives from its being preferred. Some couples may almost always use a single preferred position during sex and senses. Others may experiment more freely and assume a considerable variety of positions depending on mood, situation, or level of excitement. But even those couples who experiment to a large degree will return time and again to one or two positions that most explicitly delineate their couples relationship. Moreover, from the case histories I will be using as illustrations it becomes evident that even in the course of experimenting it is the positions most closely related to the basic preferred positions that that give the greatest satisfaction to the couple and allow them to enter most thoroughly into the love world.

Beyond the matter of the specific positions that are preferred, I will be considering the question of which partner initiates sex as well as who determines the pace and the rhythm of the sexual activity pattern once it has begun. There is, as we shall see, a correspondence between the choice of position and these other elements of the sexual equation. Finally, I will be relating the chosen position to the elements of the intimacy, spontaneity, physicality, commitment, and pleasure that must be dealt with the faces of love and sex.

It should be made clear from the outset that each of the basic positions admits of many variations. Major variations, which change the configurations in highly significant ways, will be treated in the next chapter. But within any particular basic position there are of course a great many minor bodily adjustments that may be made by a given individual or couple. So long as these adjustments do not alter the basic configuration, the fundamental meaning of the position is not altered either. If the basic configuration is changed, though, then a different position has been created and must be analyzed in this light.

The first of the four basic positions, and the predominant one in our culture, is the so-called missionary position. The origin of the popular name for this position is reported by Bronislaw Malinowski in his study of native cultures of the Southwest Pacific. These South Sea islanders commonly used a position in which the man squatted facing the woman, who lay supine with her thighs over the man's thighs. They were amused and fascinated by the white foreigners who first came to their islands and would spy on the activities of the whites, who were usually missionaries. The islanders found the white people's way of making love, with woman supine and the man prone on top of her, extremely curious and dubbed it the missionary position.

Let us look at the missionary position phenomenologically, first; from the woman's perspective. Lying on her back, the woman is supported by the earth (or bed) in a relaxed horizontal position. At the same time, however, she must to a considerable extent support the weight of the man above her. The woman is thus enclosed from all sides, cradled by the bed and enveloped by the man's body. Her ability to move her torso is limited by the weight of the man, although her arms are free to embrace or caress him. she does have the ability to move her hips and pelvis, provided that her legs are spread, with the man between them. The degree of pelvic leverages will depend on whether her legs are flat on the bed surface or raised; the greatest degree of pelvic thrust is obtained when the knees are sharply flexed but with the feet remaining flat on the bed.