She Comes First - Critical summary review - Ian Kerner

New Year, New You, New Heights. 🥂🍾 Kick Off 2024 with 70% OFF!

70% OFF

Operation Rescue is underway: 70% OFF on 12Min Premium!

New Year, New You, New Heights. 🥂🍾 Kick Off 2024 with 70% OFF!

1292 reads ·  0 average rating ·  0 reviews

She Comes First - critical summary review

She Comes First Critical summary review Start your free trial
Sex & Relationships

This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman

Available for: Read online, read in our mobile apps for iPhone/Android and send in PDF/EPUB/MOBI to Amazon Kindle.

ISBN: 0060538260

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Critical summary review

According to noted psychotherapist and sex counselor Ian Kerner, men are “ill-cliterate,” and, as a result, most heterosexual women live less than satisfactory sexual lives. “She Comes First” is for those who are willing to learn the language of female desire and the anatomy of arousal. If you are part of this group, get ready to uncover the mysteries of the clitoris and learn why you should turn foreplay into “coreplay”!

“All orgasms are clitoral”

If you’ve ever read anything about female sexuality, you are probably already familiar with the mythical G-spot and the related debate of vaginal vs. clitoral orgasm. You might have also already heard a little something about the so-called blended orgasm, which, despite the unimaginative name, is theorized to be the most powerful orgasm of them all, the holy grail of female orgasms, if you will. How could it not be? After all, the blended orgasm supposedly encompasses the other two (hence the name) as it only occurs when you experience a vaginal and clitoral orgasm at the same time.

However, none of this finds support in modern science. As Kerner writes, “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.” The fabled G-spot? Probably nothing more than the back end of the clitoris. Vaginal orgasm? Almost certainly a myth. 

All those moans of pleasure accompanying penetration are not delivered by “the sheer power and reach of men’s formidable thrusts [but] by pressure on the parts of the clitoris that surround the vaginal opening” – a phenomenon named the “clitoral cuff” by author Rebecca Chalker. So, in other words, there are no orgasms to blend for a blended orgasm to be conjectured at all: female pleasure is all about the clitoris.

Dear Freud, just a quick note to say you were unfair and wrong

Unfortunately for women – as James Brown sang once – “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” Translated into the language of sex, this means that despite women being biologically modeled to derive more pleasure than men from their bodies, it is the men who enjoy bodily encounters the most. The reason is simple: up until recently, they were the ones who wrote all the books about sex and pleasure. 

Just take Sigmund Freud, for example. In 1910, without any shred of experimental evidence, he decided that, “if a woman couldn’t be satisfied by penetrative sex, something must be wrong with her.” Furthermore, he characterized clitoral orgasms as “infantile” and concluded that women must outgrow them by developing a desire to be penetrated. Masturbation and oral sex were – in Freud’s opinion – not only immature but the marks of a mental disorder. 

We now know that he – just like most men before him – was way off the mark: the age-old conception of human sexuality centering on the penetrative, reproductive model favors men. Because while they get almost all the pleasure from penetration, women can do better off without it. Penetration, in fact, rarely leads to female orgasm, but never for the reasons you might suspect. When it comes to female satisfaction – to paraphrase Edward Bulwer-Lytton – the tongue is mightier than the sword.

What vaginal agenesis and clitoridectomy tell us about female pleasure

Before you say anything – no, the heading is not some modern feminist conspiracy against men or the foundations of Western societies. It is basic science. And here’s how we know that it’s far more factual than Freud. 

About one woman in five thousand suffers from an unusual congenital disorder called vaginal agenesis or vaginal atresia. It is a condition in which the vagina is abnormally closed or absent. Put simply, despite normal development of external genitals – including major and minor labia – these women are literally born without a vagina. Consequently, they are usually unable to become pregnant – at least not without some medical help. Even so, they can experience sexual pleasure and orgasm – because they still have a fully functional clitoris. 

Unfortunately, this is far more difficult for all those women subjected to the act of female circumcision, i.e., clitoridectomy. Although they knew much less about biology than Freud, the sadistic inventors of this inhuman procedure seem to have understood intuitively much better than the Austrian psychologist the anatomy of female pleasure. In fact, clitoridectomy is still practiced in some cultures today with the same intention as always: minimizing sexual desire and preserving virginity in women.

A quick guide to the anatomy of the clitoris

The reason why even women who have undergone clitoridectomy can still experience orgasm is that, contrary to popular wisdom, the clitoris is not “a tiny love button,” but “a sophisticated network of arousal that has more hot spots than a latent volcano.” 

More precisely, it has about 8,000 nerve fibers – twice as many as the penis – which can potentially interact with over 15,000 nerve fibers that service the entire pelvic area. The purpose? Pleasure. The clitoris is the only body part with no known utilitarian function and is, therefore – in the words of Masters and Johnson – “a unique organ in the total of humanity.”

The clitoris has over 18 parts, both visible and hidden, that participate in the production of pleasure. Kerner – via Rebecca Chalker’s “The Clitoral Truth” – offers an abridged version of the list. Here it is – in his very words:

  1. The front commissure. The point where the outer lips meet at the base of the mons pubis.
  2. The glans. Head.
  3. Labia minora. Or the inner lips.
  4. The clitoral hood.
  5. The frenulum. The point where the outer edges of the inner lips meet just below the head.
  6. The fourchette. The point where the inner lips meet beneath the vaginal opening.
  7. The hymen. Visible just inside the vaginal opening.
  8. The clitoral shaft. It connects the head and the legs.
  9. The legs. Also known as crura. Two elongated bodies of erectile tissue, shaped like a wishbone.
  10. The bulbs. Two large bodies of spongy erectile tissue.
  11. The urethral sponge. The famed G-spot – attached to the vaginal ceiling.
  12. The paraurethral glands. The female prostate glands that produce ejaculate.
  13. The vulvovaginal glands. These produce a small amount of lubricant outside of the vagina.
  14. The perineal sponge. A dense network of blood vessels that lies underneath the perineum.
  15. The pelvic floor muscles.
  16. Ligaments. The suspensory ligament and round ligament.
  17. The pudendal nerve. The genital nerve complex, which carries messages up the spinal cord, between the brain and clitoris.
  18. The blood vessels. They increase blood supply to the pelvic area during arousal and engorge the erectile tissues, causing them to swell.

The cunnilinguist manifesto

“From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs,” wrote Karl Marx in “The Communist Manifesto.” Enough with politics, says Kerner, and proposes a much more constructive “Cunnilinguist Manifesto,” founded on the unselfish premise: “to her according to your abilities, from you according to her needs.” Its ten commandments are the following:

  1. Respect. Respect the female process of arousal.
  2. Postponement. Postpone gratification: sex should be about mutual pleasure.
  3. Knowledge. Learn female anatomy; appreciate the clitoris in all its manifold aspects.
  4. Stimulation. Stimulate the clitoris through the entire process of sexual response.
  5. Requalification. Dispense with the outdated idea that genital penetration is the apogee of sexual pleasure.
  6. Purging. Purge yourself of stereotypes, clichés, and prejudices.
  7. Patience. Be patient, respectful, sensitive, and tender.
  8. Pleasure. Be pleasure-oriented, not goal-oriented.
  9. Mutuality. As renowned relationship authority Joseph Tribbiani once said, love is about “giving and receiving as well as having and sharing.” Well, so is sex.
  10. Self-sacrifice. The fact that your relationship is casual, doesn’t give you the right to withhold anything: in all cases, give of yourself seriously, generously, and wholeheartedly.

Since self-sacrifice is probably the wrong choice of word above, “The Cunnilinguist Manifesto” comes with these three assurances for all those men who ask, “and what about me?”

  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.”

The three acts of a cathartic sexual drama

To sum up, for women, orgasm is more about the clitoris than it is about the vagina, and so sex is less about penetration than it is about cunnilingus. Accordingly, if you care about her pleasure, oral sex shouldn’t be part of the foreplay, but the coreplay itself. Penetration can be delayed until after her first orgasm: after all, unlike men, women can remain in an aroused state even after climaxing. 

We just described the three stages of female arousal. Kerner’s book offers detailed instructions for each of them – here’s a précis that, admittedly, does no justice to his meticulousness and step-by-step thoroughness:

  1. Foreplay. The point of the introductory phase is to build the sexual tension. To do that, you need to spend at least 10 to 15 minutes teasing her. Candles, massages, fantasizing, verbalizing erotic feelings, passionate kisses – they are all part of it. Genitals are not: once you kiss the vulva, the second act has started, and there’s no turning back.
  2. Coreplay. The act of pleasuring itself. Coreplay is another word for cunnilingus, which consists of six distinct stages. The first one is all about proper transitioning through the application of the first clitoral kiss: a slow and tender “ice cream” lick from bottom to top. The second stage is about establishing a stable rhythm and “acclimating the clitoris to the persistent attentions of the tongue.” In stage three, it’s time to introduce appropriate manual stimulation; focus your attention on the clitoral head. In stage four, “hypercharge the process of sexual response and escalate her level of arousal by internally stimulating the ‘clitoral cluster’ in combination with the clitoral head.” Stages five and six are preorgasm and orgasm – they are all about maintaining optimum balance of rhythm and maximizing the number of pelvic contractions so as the woman can realize the full potential of her climax.
  3. Moreplay. It’s easier once she has experienced the first orgasm of the night. Now, you can safely have penetrative intercourse, without any guilt that you might be the only one climaxing. She comes first; he comes next.

Final Notes

In 2004, “She Comes First” was selected as one of the best books of the year by Amazon editors. It was also called “the Encyclopedia Britannica of the clitoris” in a New York Times review written by Amy Sohn, an excellent columnist, a well-received writer of erotic novels, and – perhaps, most importantly in this case – a woman. 

So, if you are a thinking, heterosexual man (or even a thinking, homosexual woman), “She Comes First” is a must-read. She knows it – and will thank you.

12min Tip

When it comes to clitoral stimulation, the tongue is mightier than the sword. And when it comes to orgasm – the clitoris is all. You do the rest of the math.

Sign up and read for free!

By signing up, you will get a free 7-day Trial to enjoy everything that 12min has to offer.

Who wrote the book?

Ian Kerner is an American psychotherapist, bestselling author, and sex counselor. He specializes in couples’ therapy and sex therapy, frequently lecturing on these topics. A regular guest on popular T... (Read more)

Start learning more with 12min

6 Milllion

Total downloads

4.8 Rating

on Apple Store and Google Play


of 12min users improve their reading habits

A small investment for an amazing opportunity

Grow exponentially with the access to powerful insights from over 2,500 nonfiction microbooks.


Start enjoying 12min's extensive library

Day 5

Don't worry, we'll send you a reminder that your free trial expires soon

Day 7

Free Trial ends here

Get 7-day unlimited access. With 12min, start learning today and invest in yourself for just USD $4.14 per month. Cancel before the trial ends and you won't be charged.

Start your free trial

More than 70,000 5-star reviews

Start your free trial

12min in the media