Book Review: The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure by Charlie Glickman and Aislinn Emirzian

If one were to infer anything by the sex questions asked of advice columnists, it is that so many of the topics boil down to, “Tell me that my desire is normal.” When it comes to men wanting something that is outside of the stereotypical straight-male domain, both the men themselves and their partners can feel at a loss for information. Charlie Glickman and Aislinn Emirzian’s new book, The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure, aims to educate those people who are looking to incorporate P-Spot exploration into their sexual lives.

Cover of The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure by Charlie Glickman and Aislinn EmirzianCovering everything from techniques, toys, hygiene, and broaching the subject for the first time, The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure offers over 300 pages of information. “Unlike some other sexual practices, trying prostate play often presents hurdles,” the introduction reads. “Concerns about anal play, safety, cleanliness, sexual orientation, masculinity, and gender roles can hold men and their partners back. Or simply never having heard much about the prostate as a pleasure zone can keep lots of people from exploring it.”

The authors take care to include a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities, while also alternating medical language (penis, anus) with more slangy words (cock, asshole). When they say Ultimate Guide, they do their best to live up to such an all-inclusive title. They also discuss the potential health benefits to prostate stimulation.

Last month, P-Mag’s own Coco tackled a reader’s question about the mechanics of prostate stimulation, along with the biology behind it. Prostate Pleasure goes even further in-depth by offering interviews with men who have tried it and how it feels for them, while still acknowledging, “Your mileage may vary.” Trans-women are also given their due with interviews and a note on communication:

Because someone’s erotic sensations from prostate stimulation may shift, your best best is to ask what their desires and preferences are. The answers will vary from person to person and may shift over time, so don’t assume that what a previous partner enjoyed will work for a new one. It’s also a good idea to ask a transgender woman her preferred language for talking about this kind of play: prostate play, G-spot, or something else. Let her choice around this guide your actions.

Really, that’s good advice for any people who are sleeping together – what gets one person off does not automatically translate to the next, and everyone has “dirty” language preferences.

Considerable time is given to comparing the male prostate with the female glandular tissue known as the G-spot. While the orgasms and methods of stimulation are similar, they are not necessarily the same thing. Because research into both areas – and how all those sensory nerve receptors work – is so new, many sex experts have yet to decide if the neurological reasons behind this specific type of pleasure are the same for both men and women.

Terminology aside, what about the actual sexybusiness? Yes, Glickman and Emirzian get into all sorts of specifics – whether the practitioner is on his own or with a partner. Positioning, toys to investigate (and the history of those toys), and stimulation techniques are all covered. You got lube questions? They have answers. Prepping oneself and post-sex cleanup are addressed with care. If you’re one who enjoys having a checklist to follow, they’ve got one of those too. Also: Illustrations with a variety of genders.

They also give plenty of page-space to alleviating concerns about masculinity and “Does this mean I’m weird?” -type questions, addressed towards both a man’s inner dialogue and that with his partner. Depending upon the partner, it could be a matter of getting over the embarrassment of asking for anything specific in bed, or the issue could run into more complicated territory:

Receiving penetration is sometimes thought of as the woman’s role in sex. And since a big part of being a “real man” means that you don’t do anything womanly, then of course receiving penetration doesn’t fit. Some men fear that if they get penetrated, they are being feminized – turned into a sissy.

Of course, the negative judgment about a man taking on the woman’s role only works if you think there’s something wrong with being a woman. Many men have internalized this judgment without ever considering that it is based on the idea that women are inferior and therefore men should not be like them. Ask yourself: do you really believe that women are inferior?
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We’d much rather have people decide what they want to do based on their (and their partner’s) consent, pleasure, and well-being than on someone else’s opinion of what they should do.

Feminist sex guides aimed at men: They exist, y’all.

The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure is a well-rounded book that should have something for both newbies and practitioners looking for more information. If I had to have any complaint, it’s perhaps that they err a little bit too much on the side of hand-holding the apprehensive. Still, I understand why that care is there, and my perspective is coloring those portions of the book. Not everyone is adventurous, and not everyone has an open-to-every-topic dialogue with their partners. Whichever way you fall, if you have a person in your life who wants to investigate this avenue of pleasure, it’s worth taking a look at this book.

Full Disclosure: Cleis Press sent me this book as a review copy. I thank them for the gesture, and I will continue to be fair in my reviews.

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Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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