Kate Hakala • @explikateme • Apr. 29, 2014
• • • • •
Give me a break, sex doesn’t last for hours.
Recently, Policy Mic put together a completely dead-on list of myths about sex that we need to stop teaching young impressionable girls. But girls aren’t the only ones whose formative sexual education can make or break the way one interacts with their sexuality for the rest of their life. According to a study done by the CDC, only 81 percent of men are taught how to say “no” to sex by the time they graduate high school and a sad 62 percent are taught about different methods of birth control.
Outdated ideas of gender roles impact men just as much as they influence women. Everything from Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” to the Steubenville football players to Old Spice’s Man Your Man Could Smell Like shapes the way young men see themselves and the way they’re sexualized. Before we can all start having better sex, here are some lies we need to stop feeding boys about how “real men” have sex.
1. A big penis is the only way to ever please a lover.
The prevalence of size queens and people who say, “But it really does matter,” are only hurting everybody’s sex lives. Studies have pegged the average penis size somewhere between 5.1 to 5.6 inches. But that’s certainly not the images men are hit with in porn or the rare times dicks are flashed in mainstream movies. All this talk about dick size gives men anxiety about their girth and their ability to please their partners, but studies have pegged up to 77 percent of women don’t care at all about dick size. As the saying goes, it’s not the size of the tools, but how you use them.
2. Sex lasts for at least an hour.
A lot of emphasis is put on men lasting longer in bed, with many products out there attempting to get men to go on for hours and hours. But the average inter-vaginal sex lasts only 7.3 minutes. Shorter sex isn’t exactly “short” — it’s the norm. It’s up to both partners to be respectful enough of each other’s pleasure to make sure that both are satisfied, whatever the duration of intercourse itself.
3. Men always want sex.
Just as the myth that women don’t want as much sex as men exists, society also assumes that men are indefatigable, relentless sex zombies. It’s okay to not want sex, and sometimes, men don’t.
4. Sex ends with a man’s orgasm.
Just as a lot of women can’t orgasm though intercourse alone, sex can still be sex without a male orgasm. It takes the average man about seven to 14 minutes to reach orgasm during sex whereas it takes women anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes — which means, sex doesn’t need to end just because a man has ejaculated. Thinking that way puts a lot of pressure on the male orgasm and leaves the partner’s pleasure by the wayside.
5. What you see in porn is what happens during sex.
Porn is full of huge dongs, ever-moaning women, money shots, fetishes, and extreme sex acts. But, as men come to realize after having sex for a while, solely jackhammering away is generally not the way to go. Not realizing that there are distinct differences between porn and sex — entertainment and reality — is damaging to both partners and puts too much pressure on everyday sex.
6. Men should always initiate sex.
This is simply not true. Men are always cornered to make the first move — first to call, first to ask out, first to head to the bedroom — but initiative doesn’t make someone “manly,” and deciding when is right should be up to both parties.
7. Circumcised penises are the right kind.
There are many camps when it comes to circumcising men, but it really doesn’t matter. Just as with all aesthetic or religious choices, there is no one right way to be. In fact, studies have shown that despite urban legend, circumcised penises don’t influence sexual pleasure. While only 33 percent of women in one survey said they prefer an uncircumcised penis, a large part of that turtleneck fear is that women just aren’t as exposed to them. (But ask anyone who has played with an uncircumcised penis, and they probably don’t care either way.)
8. Men are in charge of buying condoms.
As Policy Mic points out, it’s expected that men buy all the condoms and women just sit back and ignore protection. While it makes sense that men might want to be their own condoms to get the right size, brand, and flavor of their choice, they shouldn’t be the only ones stocking up on rubbers.
9. All men are born with penises.
That’s not say having sex with a man relies solely on the individual’s ability to get an erection. Transgender men and gender queer individuals have sex, too. Being a real man is about knowing oneself as a man.
10. Everyone around you is having sex.
A study from 2013 revealed that while it’s expected that most high school boys are already having sex, in fact only 35 percent of 16-year-old boys have had sex. Meaning: not everyone around you is actually getting it on. While movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin depict not having sex as an emblem of shame, the truth is, there are often lulls in people’s sex drive and sex frequency throughout a lifetime.
11. Liking butt play makes you gay.
Here’s a little lesson: men, gay or straight, have a prostate gland. It’s a walnut-sized gland that’s part of a dude’s reproductive system. Men can achieve an orgasm from anal sex or a prostate massage alone. Which mean when a guy is requesting “butt stuff,” like a finger in the ass or a rim job, it doesn’t mean anything about his sexual orientation.
12. Going down on someone isn’t masculine.
Going down on someone doesn’t make you a pussy, it makes you good in bed. Besides, studies have shown that the main evolutionary drive behind men giving oral sex isn’t about reciprocation, it’s about sustaining a relationship. Amen.
13. Men can’t get some kinds of STIs.
While there are some wild rumors out there about some men, especially straight men, being exempt from certain STIs, the fact is, that’s simply not true. While it’s harder or impossible to test for some STIs, like HPV, in men, guys are still very capable of catching and spreading STIs, including HIV. Just because boys don’t always have the same symptoms as girls doesn’t mean they’re superhuman.
14. If you buy someone dinner, you’re getting laid.
Sex — unless one of the parties is being paid — is not commerce or an exchange. Picking up the tab on your date’s meal doesn’t mean you should be rewarded with sex. It doesn’t mean anything except that you paid for chicken parm.
15. When men can’t get erections, it means they don’t want sex.
Sometimes, men don’t have a boner. This could be because they’re not in the mood, because they drank too much, they’re on medication, or depressed. There are literally a million reasons why a man sometimes can’t get it up. While some studies have pegged up to 52 percent of men as experiencing some sort of erectile dysfunction in their lives, it’s important to note the presence or absence of an erection in the bedroom doesn’t always have to do with sexual desire. And it has nothing to do with masculinity.
16. Men think about sex every seven seconds.
C’mon. Just stop.
Image via HBO.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
This article from Nerve is excellent - it's honest, it's direct, and it's probably not safe for work. BUT it is worthy of sharing with your son (and possibly your husband or boyfriend). Nerve is one of the best, if not the best, adult site (that is not porn) out there, so check them out sometime.
Monday, September 29, 2014
Nice post from NPR's On Being blog. In this nice example (although there is some selection bias here in that the men who attended this conference are likely more relational already), all it takes is one man to be open and vulnerable and the other feel safe enough to follow his lead.
There is a lesson in this. We never know when we are leading by example. So if we choose to be open, relational, authentic men, other men who see us may well feel safe to be the same, or at least to try it on for size.
There is a lesson in this. We never know when we are leading by example. So if we choose to be open, relational, authentic men, other men who see us may well feel safe to be the same, or at least to try it on for size.
by Courtney E. Martin (@courtwrites), weekly columnist
Friday, September 26, 2014
Photo by David Goehring
Last weekend, I had the honor of moderating a panel at the Omega Institute’s annual conference exploring women, men, and power. When I’m moderating, I have that rare sense that I am doing one of the things I am built for — listening to the conversation on the stage, but also listening underneath the conversation and to the conversation that is begging to be had.
Sometimes, listening underneath and beyond leads me to some surprising places. As we were exploring work-family balance and pay parity — standard fare — two other words suddenly flashed in my head, bright as neon: men and friendship. So I asked the men on the panel to speak to it.
Thirty-three-year-old poet, actor, and memoirist Carlos Andrés Gómez described how a mentor of his told him that people will only be vulnerable with you if you model it first, and that men so often get stuck in shallow relationship because they are perpetually waiting for the other guy to let his guard down. “So I created an ‘I love you because list,’ with 25 reasons that I loved my best friend and gave it to him,” Carlos revealed to the crowd of 400 people, who suddenly seemed to be breathing as one.
True to form, in that moment when this young poet, this exquisitely genuine and tender and tough man, lay his guard down — so did other men in the audience. The rest of the day, in the dining room and on the paths between cabins, in the sanctuary and down by the lake, I heard men being unapologetically relational with one another. They weren’t just talking about what they did for a living or their favorite teams; they were talking about their fears. They were talking about their confusion. They were talking about their regrets. Later that night, even the former prime minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, admitted to feeling jealous of the intimacy and authenticity that he’s witnessed within women’s friendships with one another.
As I began digging into the research on men and friendship, I found convincing evidence on why Kevin is right to be jealous. In fact, strong friendships make us significantly healthier and happier (much more effectively, duh, than money), and men have far fewer of them — especially as they age — than women do. There is even a name for it: “the male deficit model” — essentially the sociological theory that men aren’t great at creating lasting, genuine bonds. Men’s friendship tend to be more episodic and short-term — forged over beers after work and then abandoned when someone gets transferred to another department, or born on bikes side by side, climbing up hills with rich conversation, but lost to injury.
Men’s friendships may tend to be fleeting, but the effects are anything but. Many men rely exclusively on women —their partners, first and foremost, but also female friends — to be emotional surrogates of a sort. Without us, men sometimes struggle to consciously experience and name their emotions; women, though I think we rarely admit it, sometimes feel weighed down with the burden of braving our own internal world and mentoring our favorite men to do so, too. It’s a different kind of “second shift” than the one Arlie Russell Hochschild wrote about; it’s the endless labor of emotional midwifery.
Of course there are men who are genius at friendship, just as there are women who are positively dumb at it. But, writ large, we still live in a time and a place where men’s muscles for deep and real connection atrophy as they make their way through and beyond adolescence.
In Niobe Way’s beautiful book, Deep Secrets: Boys' Friendships and the Crisis of Connection, she challenges the idea that men are naturally “emotionally illiterate.” Instead, she finds that teenage boys describe their love for one another with a depth of feeling worthy of romance novels. But as they age, they learn that “real men” don’t speak this way, except, at rare moments, within the safe confines of sports. And so many abandon their native tongue. They adopt the limiting language of safe relationships with other men so as to prove that they’re not soft or gay or needy. In so doing, they lose one of the things that makes their lives most livable, most rich.
I would even go so far as to wonder if the impossibly high suicide rate among young men doesn’t have something to do with their paucity of friendships, where they can show up as themselves, messy and needy. Or the enigmatic trends in violence perpetrated by men — could some of it be the external expression of an internal longing to be seen, heard, and celebrated by other men?
There is good news here. Niobe Way finds that boys thrive when they resist becoming stoic and self-contained “real men” and instead choose to honor their emotional needs by forging lasting and genuine friendships with other brave souls. When my husband went through a divorce in his late 20s, it was one of the first moments when he chose vulnerability — in part because he didn’t feel like it really was a choice — and his friendships with other guys blossomed in the brokenness.
When Carlos painstakingly and bravely penned that “I love you because” list, he not only honored his friend, he honored himself. Men, like women, deserve the gift of genuine, passionate friendship. They are capable of mining their own depths without women’s assistance. But it requires rejecting the roles society steers you into if you’re on autopilot. It requires being awake, being brave. Sometimes, it requires being the first to let your guard down.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
I don't know if we need to ban fraternities, but this is certainly a abysmal statistic - and some people still try to reject the notion of "rape culture."
It is pretty clear, however, that when young, traditional men come together in large groups, their collective IQ drops considerably and their moral compass gets completely derailed.
The stats on campus sexual violence are pretty stark.
Photo Credit: Wallenrock / Shutterstock.com
When I was at Tulane University, girls were warned about the “bad” fraternities: the ones that spiked the punch at parties with Everclear and maybe drugs, the kind of frats where girls got hurt. During my first week of class 18 years ago, rumours circulated about a girl on my floor who had been sexually assaulted by multiple men at a frat party. These issues were always discussed with a certain nonchalance – as if having at least one rapist around was an inevitable part of fraternity life.
Not much has changed.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee police are currently investigating a fraternity after several women were found labeled with red and black X’s on their hands after they had to be hospitalized with memory lapses from intoxication at a fraternity party. Last year, three sexual assaults were reported at one Texas fraternity – within just one month. At Georgia Tech, a frat brother sent around an email guide called “Luring your rapebait”. Wesleyan had a frat that was nicknamed the “Rape Factory”. In 2010, fraternity brothers at Yale University marched through campus yelling, “No means yes, yes means anal.”
These are not anomalies or bad apples: numerous studies have found that men who join fraternities are three times more likely to rape, that women in sororities are 74% more likely to experience rape than other college women, and that one in five women will be sexually assaulted in four years away at school. So it seems only natural to ask: With all of the current efforts, from the White House to college towns, to curb campus sexual assault – using “yes means yes” as a standard for consent, holding administrators accountable, touting bystander intervention – why haven’t we addressed perhaps the most obvious solution?
It’s time to talk about banning fraternities.
When sociology professors Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton conducted an intensive, landmark five-year study on college students – by living amongst, following around and interviewing students in one dorm at an anonymous Midwestern public university – they reported that two women living on their floor were sexually assaulted at fraternity parties within the first few weeks of the semester.
Armstrong, who turned the results of the study into a well-received bestseller about college inequality and a paper on sexual assault, tells me that while anti-sexual violence programs are doing all the right things, they may not be doing enough.
“I was just at University of Massachusetts and at Wesleyan, and they were talking about bystander intervention programs and that’s great – people should try to engage,” she said. “But what it leaves off the table are the organizations that put people at risk on campus.”
Armstrong reminded me of what I hear on campus visits myself – that fraternities are hotbeds for all sorts of risk beyond sexual assault: there’s also alcoholism, alcohol poisoning, people falling out of windows and dangerous hazing incidents. She insists that frats “vary tremendously” in terms of how sexually dangerous they are – traditionally African American frats, gender-inclusive frats and multicultural frats are not as threatening as those populated by mostly-white, economically-entitled students, for example – but when you look at the overall risk fraternities create for students on campus, “reforming or preserving these organizations doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Armstrong said.
And while probably not all fraternities are hunting grounds for rapists and
not all men who join frats (or varsity sports teams) are predators, when so much sexual violence is centered around one area of campus life, something has to be done.
For Wesleyan – home of the “rape factory” frat – school administrators decided that means mandating that women be admitted to fraternities. The school announced this week that all frats must go co-ed within the next three years. While I applaud what seems a theoretical move towards equality, I don’t much like the idea of women as a “civilizing” force for men’s bad behavior.
Why try to fix something that’s irrevocably broken? Better, instead, that we take an honest look at the statistics and stories coming out of colleges and act accordingly. I realize banning frats is likely a pipe dream – the organizations are deeply embedded in college culture, they generate student programming and are supported by powerful alumni. But if we’re ready to take on college administrators, sue under Title IX, or carry mattresses on our back in protest, why not this? Why not now?
~ Jessica Valenti is a daily columnist for the Guardian US. She is the author of four books on feminism, politics and culture, and founder of Feministing.com.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
If I had to summarize this article's stance on male aggression, it would be: "Evolution and my hormones made me do it." I would guess that this is still the majority view in biology, anthropology, and even some areas of psychology.
What's missing from this rather simplistic model is the social construction aspect - that gender behaviors are socially constructed and socially enforced. Men may have an obvious evolutionary design that allowed us to be more violent and aggressive - generally in the same way as the males of any species are aggressive as a means of protecting the group (from family to tribe to religion to nation).
BUT, we are no longer a species that operates in a kill-or-be-killed world. We have evolved. In general, the greater the level of psychosocial development, the lesser the incidence of violent behavior. It is no longer feasible to claim a biological imperative toward violence - our biology is only one aspect of who we are.
Why are men more violent?Published on September 22, 2014 by Dorian Furtuna, Ph.D. in Homo Aggressivus
In almost every society men are the ones who are overwhelmingly involved in wars, in all kinds of intergroup aggressions and intragroup homicide; they mobilize themselves in armies of violent fans, in criminal gangs, in bands of thugs, etc. These observations are as old as the world and have allowed us to create a clear distinction between male and female sexes regarding their predisposition to violence. Wars are a biosocial product of men and a field for male’s manifestation [Goldstein, 2001]. The same thing is true of crime and cruelty, which are closely linked to masculinity.
Men are also, in 70 percent of cases, the victims of homicides. In some societies, this percentage jumps to over 90 percent [Daly, Wilson, 1988; Berkowitz, 1993, p. 274, apud Buss, Duntley, 2002].
Canadian evolutionary psychologists Martin Daly and Margo Wilson, who specialize in studying the homicide phenomenon, have analyzed 35 homicide data sets from 14 countries, including some from primitive societies and some from different eras. Among these societies men committed homicide, on average, 26 times more frequently than women [Daly, Wilson, 1994]. Also, familicides (the killing of family members) are committed mostly by men. Some data have shown that men were involved in more than 90 percent of cases [Wilson, Daly, 1997, p. 160].
In the Russian Federation, in 1996, 86.6 percent of all serious crimes were committed by men. In the U.S., in 2004, 85 percent of total serious crimes were committed by men. Ninety-two percent of serial killers from the U.S. are men . This statistical report is valid for most countries, regardless of their geographical location or size. In Republic of Moldova, for example, about 90 percent of crimes are committed by men .
Let us analyze another dimension of violence – cruelty and animal abuse. One of the studies that approached this issue found the following male-to-female ratio, regarding violence to animals: beatings – 38 to 1, shooting – 16 to 1, torture – 20 to 1, burning – 17 to 1 [Gerbasi, 2004].
Why are men more aggressive than women? Several theories have been proposed, trying to explain this phenomenon, most of them being from social psychological theories. One of the most popular theories belongs to American social psychologist Leonard Berkowitz. According to him, men and women are educated, traditionally, to carry out different social roles. Berkowitz uses the following reasoning for his theory: Think of all the ways in which modern Western society teaches children that fighting is more suitable for men than to women. Folk literature and the media constantly present men, and not women, fighting. Parents buy toy guns for boys and dolls for girls. Parents are more willing to endorse and encourage the aggressive behavior of boys, and not of girls. Again and again, directly and indirectly, minors learn that men are aggressive, and women not [Berkowitz, 1993, p. 395].
The theory of “social roles” has created a new paradigm in gender policies and marks, even today, the ways in which many civic and preschool education strategies are developed. It is presumed that girls and boys shall be educated and treated alike, non-discriminatory, and even the behavioral differences between them will disappear. However, although it contains in itself a good dose of truth (boys and girls were, traditionally, part of a different education), Berkowitz’s theory about learned social roles was subject to several critics, who have shown its vulnerabilities.
First of all, it’s not the parents that impose behavioral styles on their children, but their reaction at the latter’s requests; toy guns are bought for boys and dolls for girls because these are usually the children’s preferences (in part genetically predetermined). And as parents respond to children’s preformed wishes, so do media, offering a content which corresponds to behavioral patterns already existing on a social level [Hoyenga, Hoyenga, 1993]. Then, Berkowitz’s theory mirrored the Western culture, but didn’t take into account the realities from other cultures (without cinema, literature, media, toy stores), where the behavioral patterns of boys still greatly differ from that of girls. It was noted, among other things, that homicides in North America (where it seems that the media fosters intense social roles) are marked by sex differences to a lesser degree than in many other societies [Daly, Wilson, 1989, p. 101-102, apud Buss, Duntley, 2002]. So it is not the imprinting of social roles that sits at the origin of men’s increased aggressiveness, but inner causes, determined by the nature of men.
Also important in this regard are the findings of social psychologists who have noted that the social emancipation of women in recent decades has barely influenced or enhanced the expressiveness of aggressive behavior in women, which is additional proof that the higher degree of masculine aggressiveness is, first of all, due to genetic factors. Sex differences predetermine, on a genetic level, the differences in aggressive behavior [Wilson, Herrnstein, 1985]. It’s specific for women to use verbal aggression in intrasexual competition between women and rarely are there cases of physical assault. Women use only language in competitive strategies [Buss, Dedden, 1990, apud Fitzgerald, Whitaker, 2009, p. 469].
Most relevant in explaining the genesis of male aggressive behavior proved to be the approaches from an evolutionary perspective. Thus, the fact that men are more aggressive and stronger than women can be explained through intrasexual competition (between males). Men have inherited these skills from our evolutionary ancestors, because, in general, in the living world, gaining a higher hierarchical status, resources, protecting the family and obtaining competitive advantages in conquering women involves increased physical contest and increased aggressiveness [Buss, Duntley, 2006; Gat, 2010]. Similarly, in many animal species, including primates, males have the biological role of being guardians of the territory and of banishing the intruders or of protecting the group from predators, and these functions imply that males exhibit a higher level of aggression than females [Wilson, 1975].
The fact that males are more aggressive and more violent is reflected by their anatomy itself; in many animals species they are heavier, more muscular, better armed with means of attack and defense. In humans, for example, the arms of men are, on average, 75 percent more muscular than those of women; and the top of a male body is 90 percent stronger that the top of a female body [Bohannon, 1997; Abe et al., 2003, apud Goetz, 2010, p. 16]. Also, men are taller, they have denser and heavier bones, their jaw is more massive, their reaction time is shorter, their visual acuity is better, their muscle/fat ratio is greater, their heart is bulkier, their percentage of hemoglobin is higher, their skin is thicker, their lungs bigger, their resistance to dehydration is higher etc. In other words, from all points of view, men are more suited for battle than women, and these skills are native; they were selected and evolutionary polished [Sell et al., 2012, p. 33].
Men also have a specific hormonal status. Testosterone, for example, is directly responsible for inducing competitive and even criminal behavior. According to Evolutionary Neuroandrogetic Theory, male sex hormones (androgens) are correlated with the increased ability of males to acquire resources, hierarchical position and sexual partners [Ellis, 2003, 2004].
All of these anatomical, hormonal, behavioral and evolutionary factors demonstrate the biological, instinctual inclination of men to be more combative. Therefore, on an individual and social level, men are involved in acts of violence and crime. The social environment only cultivates and points out these predispositions towards fighting and aggression.
1. ...И смертельная ненависть к мужчинам // Ракитин А.И.”Загадочные преступления прошлого”. 2008 / http://murders.ru/Florida_2.html
2. Statistica gender // Biroul Naţional de Statistică al Republicii Moldova / http://www.statistica.md/category.php?l=ro&idc=264
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• Buss D.M., Dedden L.A. Derogation of competitors // Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Vol. 7. 1990. P. 395-422.
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• Wilson M.I., Daly M. Familicide: uxoricide plus filicide? // In M Riedel & J Boulahanis, eds., Lethal violence: Proceedings of the 1995 meeting of the Homicide Research Working Group. Washington DC: National Institute of Justice. 1997. P. 159-169.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Think all feminists hate men? Think again. This excellent post comes from a site called Everyday Feminism. I agree with all 5 of these - and regular readers will have seen other posts here dealing with these ways we demean and underestimate men.
Trigger Warning: Sexual Violence and Abuse
Some of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life came through sports. They taught me hard work, commitment, and teamwork. They also taught me some of my most foundational lessons about masculinity and sex.
Not all of these messages were problematic and harmful. I often had coaches talk to me in positive (though sometimes paternalistic) ways about “respecting women.” But looking back, most of the messages I received about sex and my masculinity’s role in sex were quite horrifying.
Perhaps one of the most terrifying messages that I received came from an older soccer player named Dave when I was in tenth grade. One day, he was bragging to me about his sexual relationship with his girlfriend, a girl widely recognized as “hot” and “popular.”
In the midst of his braggadocio, he mentioned wanting to perform an incredibly violent sexual act that would violate her consent and would likely lead to serious injury.
He said he was only joking, and I laughed along, but it didn’t sit right with me. No matter how uncomfortable it made me, though, I didn’t dare challenge the “joke.”
After all, to do so would not only have challenged a man I was supposed to look up to, but it might have led to me being further ostracized for being “gay” (because apparently men are gay if they stand up to violence against women, and being gay was the “worst possible thing” I could have been in high school).
To this day, I’m ashamed that I never said anything, but I simply didn’t know how. I was a young man lacking in confidence, and I felt like it was “normal” that we were talking about women in this way.
Though some might write this story off as adolescent immaturity, this story speaks to a wider problem of patriarchal masculinity and how we as men are taught to understand sex and sexuality.
Feminism vs. Patriarchy
For generations now, feminism in its many iterations has done an amazing job of pointing out the terrible impacts of patriarchal masculinity. And, increasingly, feminists have focused on how patriarchy hurts people of all genders.
With the rise of the Internet as a dominant force in so many people’s lives, though, the resistance to feminism has only grown louder and stronger.
The power of the Internet for organizing Men’s Rights Activists, Pick Up Artists, and other anti-feminist groups has meant a surge in numbers of those who see feminism as “anti-male” or who despise the ways that feminism subverts patriarchal masculinity.
And ironically, these groups prey on men who feel hurt, who feel insecure, who feel entitled to sex, but who struggle socially and can’t find fulfilling relationships.
MRAs and PUAs tell insecure men that the problem is feminism, not patriarchy, and in doing so, fuel a particularly violent online (and offline) misogyny.
Yet the hurt and frustration these men face when it comes to sexuality is almost always directly tied to the ways in which patriarchal masculinity distorts male sexuality – which is a battle that feminism fights.
In her book The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, bell hooks describes patriarchy as “the single most life-threatening social disease assaulting the male body and spirit in our nation.”
If we are ever going to engage men more fully in dismantling patriarchy and ending misogyny, we need more men to understand how the messages we receive about sex hurt more than women. These messages hurt us in myriad ways, too.
Thus, though I could likely unpack just about every message about sex that we receive, I want to analyze five of the most prominent messages men are taught about our sexuality.
1. ‘Sow Your Wild Oats’
This one is also known as “View sex as a conquest, and have sex with as many partners as you possibly can.”
Somewhere in our early twenties, my friend reached out to his dad for some advice about women and relationships. His dad told him that his twenties were not a time to be “tied down” and that he should “sow his wild oats.” Considering that my friend was seeking advice about whether to invest more seriously in a relationship with a woman, the message was clear.
From a very early age, we, as men, get the message from media and from other men that our role in sex is conqueror. I saw in in the way that Dave bragged about his sexual conquest with his “hot” and “popular” girlfriend, and we got the message in the talk with my buddy’s dad.
By feeling pressure to live up to the “sow your wild oats” message, we end up viewing partners as disposable. This obviously hurts our partners, but it also ensures that we never form loving and/or accountable bonds of attachment unless we forsake this messaging!
After all, whether we’re talking about a one-night stand or a long-term relationship, connection (and thus good sex and healthy relationships) is driven by investment, love, and care. This is not to say that all sex needs to happen in the context of love, but we need to invest in connection rather than disconnection to ensure both our partners and we are fulfilled.
2. ‘Always Be in Control’
I’m not sure where exactly it came from, but somewhere along the way, I received the message that I always need to be in control sexually. Sure, it can be “hot” for a woman (because I never received any messaging about what sex with anyone but a woman could or should be) to take control from time to time, but that message was the exception to the rule.
And I don’t think I’m alone.
There’s a reason that in dominant masculine cultures, it’s seen as wildly subversive for a man to be a “bottom” or “submissive” in sex with other men or in BDSM. And there’s a reason that these men are referred to as the “b*tch.”
But releasing control allows us to build accountable and trusting partnerships, as trust cannot live in a relationship characterized by control over another person.
Plus, relationships where one person is always in control sexually are not only boring, but they can stifle our full sexual expression! Relinquishing control allows us to experience things that might bring tremendous fulfillment and pleasure that we otherwise would never have considered!
3. ‘Value Hotness (Traditional Measures of Physical Attractiveness) Above Everything.’
When I watched the video that the UCSB shooter made just before going on his violent rampage, I noticed a particularly disturbing trend: Much of his ramblings about women rejecting him focused on women he deemed “hot” and non-deserving men having sexual access to these women.
And it got me thinking about the ways that I have been taught to value particular types of beauty in my relationships with women.
Considering my earliest sexual experiences were with mainstream pornography, my understanding of sex and sexuality was cemented with a pretty strict construction of beauty. Outside of that, nearly every message I’ve received from other men and from the media point to one thing: Unless a woman is “hot,” she’s not worth my time.
And to this day, this conditioning impacts me both consciously and subconsciously in ways that I have to check and reflect upon. I find myself engaging more intently in a conversation with a woman who is stereotypically “attractive,” and I find myself remembering the names of women I find attractive far more easily than those I do not.
The bizarre part of these tendencies is that they don’t necessarily have anything to do with sex! I am happily in a committed and fulfilling relationship where I’m not looking for sexual partners, yet I still find myself valuing women I find most attractive more than those I don’t.
How does this impact my relationships with the women in my life?
What relationships — sexual and romantic or otherwise — are we closing off because of how we’ve been taught to value physical beauty above all else?
The point is that when we value women as sexual objects, we not only hurt women, but we hurt ourselves in the ways we lose out on friendships, romantic partnerships, fantastic sexual connections, or any other relationships with people who exist outside of a tiny standard of beauty.
When we decolonize our understanding of beauty from patriarchal norms, we open ourselves to a myriad of beautiful human connections with people of all genders.
4. ‘If She Doesn’t Stop You, You’re Good to Go!’
I had a lot of awkward sex talks with my dad. I guess he wanted to make sure I got the message about condoms and pregnancy and STIs.
Aside from any mention of non-heterosexual sex, looking back on these talks, I notice one glaringly absent topic: consent. In none of these awkward talks during long car trips was consent even mentioned, let alone explored and discussed with nuance and complexity.
This absence reinforced another aspect of sexuality that is “normal” within patriarchal masculinity: “Consent means go until they say stop.” Nowhere was that actually explicitly said, yet every model in the media where much of my understanding of how sexuality would look demonstrated anything different.
And so long as our model for consent relies on the negative, on a partner expressing discontent to keep us from moving forward, we ensure two things.
First, we ensure that we run tremendous risk of hurting our partners by violating their boundaries of consent, and if our partners have received similar messaging, they run the same risk of hurting us and violating our boundaries.
Second, we ensure that overt communication during sex is the exception rather than the rule, and this message means that we don’t have the best sex we could possibly have. A simple rule for good sex is that the more clearly everyone communicates, the better the sex will be.
5. This All Culminates in One Thing: Male Entitlement to Sex
All of this messaging together serves to teach men that we are entitled to sex and to other people’s bodies. And this entitlement hurts everyone.
There is only one outcome for this entitlement: violence.
Of course, #notallmen end up overtly expressing this learned entitlement through violence, but we all get the same messaging, and there are countless ways for us to act on our sexual entitlement by hurting others.
So how does this entitlement show up in the form of violence?
The most extreme form of this violence shows up when men murder out of this entitlement, as we saw in a sensationalized way with the Isla Vista killings and as we see every single day when at least three men kill their intimate partners.
This violence appears in the form of relationship violence, most recently in the public eye because of Ray Rice’s violence against Janay Palmer, and with at least two million men per year beating their intimate partners.
This violence shows up in sexual violence, where, though it is hard to truly study perpetrators of sexual violence, the vast majority of perpetrators of sexual violence are men (yes really, MRAs).
This violence shows up in street harassment, where the vast majority of street harassment is committed by men.
Sadly, I could go on and on with this list, but the common denominator is entitlement that is intimately woven into patriarchal masculinity.
So What Do We Do?
Knowing that patriarchal masculinity distorts male sexuality in ways that hurts people of all genders, we have to find ways to interrupt the cycles of male socialization as we know them.
We need learn from men like those at A Call to Men who are willing to raise boys differently, offering a more inclusive and non-violent masculinity. We have to have the courage to teach our boys that what it means to be a man is to be gentle, to be loving, to be kind, and to see the full humanity in all people.
We have to take a page from the book of The Representation Project who are pushing back against the ways our genders are constructed and portrayed in the media.
We have to push for public policy that holds everyone, particularly men, accountable to healthy and nonviolent relationships.
And we, as men, need to do more to call in other men to considering a new masculinity. When we hear our friends spout some MRA bullshit, we need to call them out and call them in. When we hear men talk in objectifying ways about other people’s bodies, we need to call them out and call them in.
And we need to build relationships with other men that are built upon non-violence, love, accountability, and transformative (rather than patriarchal) masculinity.
Because if we don’t, we all suffer.
Jamie Utt is a Contributing Writer at Everyday Feminism. He is the Founder and Director of Education at CivilSchools, a comprehensive bullying prevention program, a diversity and inclusion consultant, and sexual violence prevention educator based in Minneapolis, MN. He lives with his loving partner and his funtastic dog. He blogs weekly at Change from Within. Learn more about his work at his website here and follow him on Twitter @utt_jamie. Read his articles here and book him for speaking engagements here.
When a Pittsburgh police detective noticed that two boys he was training in a boxing gym stopped showing up, he went looking for them. What happens next is why I still have faith in human beings.
Police officer Jack Mook was enjoying his bachelor life, only having himself to take care of. He was boxing in his spare time and noticed that a couple of foster kids he helped train stopped showing up.
He tracked them down and found that they were living under terrible circumstances with abusive foster parents. Jack took matters into his own hands and had them placed in a new foster home…HIS home. Jack traded in his single life for the life of a parent and even legally adopted the two boys. Jack and the boys wouldn’t have it any other way and are restoring a lot of people’s faith in humanity!
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
What do we expect from the knuckle draggers in the rightwing blogosphere when confronted with men hurting women? Yeah, that's right, more knuckle dragging hypermasculinity.
Roy Edroso at The Village Voice did a round up of the nonsense spewing from the right.
Roy Edroso at The Village Voice did a round up of the nonsense spewing from the right.
By Roy Edroso
Sun., Sept. 21 2014
[Roy Edroso dissects the right-wing blogosphere in this weekly feature]
The NFL hasn't been having a great time of it lately, PR-wise (though its TV viewership numbers seem not to have suffered): Now even non-fans know that Baltimore Raven Ray Rice was seen cold-cocking his fiancee and Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson allegedly beat his kid hard enough with a switch to raise welts.
As often happens when celebrities get negative publicity, we have heard opinions from several parties not intimate with these cases. Rightbloggers used the controversies to promote their pet cultural theories: For example, that it's really liberals, not football players, who beat up women, and that the NFL, which is liberal like all corporations, is being Rice-baited into paying off feminists and sissies who, like liberal sportswriters, just want to ruin America's Game for conservatives.
The most prominent conservative commentary on these cases has come from Rush Limbaugh, who you may remember attacked the NFL as liberal-biased when they wouldn't let him buy a share of the St. Louis Rams in 2009. Limbaugh has so much yak on the subject (e.g., "The NFL Collides With the PC Media Culture") that we could fill this column with it, but let's not: The lesser rightbloggers are much more fun.
Many of the brethren were outraged that popular sportswriters did not immediately ask what the big deal was, but actually acted appalled. What ever happened to the shirtsleeved drunks of yore who would have shitcanned these stories but pronto?
When CBS sportscaster James Brown blamed childhood taunts like "You throw the ball like a girl" or "You're a little sissy" for the hypermasculinity that sometimes leads to domestic violence, Ben Shapiro of FrontPageMag claimed this was ridiculous, and what would really stop such violence was two-parents-but-not-gay families.
The liberal media is using guerrilla tactics to spread negative ideas about violent jocks. (Huffington Post.)
"No man has ever hit a woman because she 'throws like a girl,' " point-missed Shapiro. "But plenty of young men have hit women because they had no moral compass and did not believe in basic concepts of virtue -- and plenty of young men lack such a moral compass and belief in virtue thanks to lack of male role models." So Shapiro pleaded fatherhood, a cause he affected to believe is "unpopular."
As for sissy-shaming, Shapiro found concern over that as absurd as concern over the Washington Redskins' team name -- or, as he was careful to put it, "that the name of the Washington Redskins matters far more to Native-Americans than the nearly half of Native-American youths who drop out of high school," perhaps hoping this would defuse the issue the way "what about black-on-black crime?" defused the Michael Brown shooting, at least among a certain demographic.
Well, at least Brown didn't get the treatment Michael Signorile got from NewsBusters, which headlined, "Breaking: Gay Liberal Radio Host Doesn't Like NFL." (Swish, and we don't mean basketball!)
At National Review, Andrew C. McCarthy criticized "tendentious 'sports journalists,' the majority of whom are decidedly left of center, [who] are much less guarded about their hostility to conservatives than their fellow progressives on the political beat." He gave exactly one example of this: ESPN allowed its own correspondent, Kate Fagan, to speak on the issue. (Fagan also writes for espnW, which McCarthy told us is "where the network focuses on women in sports and, seamlessly, on political and social matters that the Left has successfully branded 'women's issues.' ")
Fagan, as the taped interview shows, said that the issue was bigger than Ray Rice, and that she wanted the NFL to "throw the kitchen sink at domestic violence," which meant, in her opinion, going into schools and "talking to young men about dealing with anger about how they treat women: I think that's where you're going to see change...going into the school systems and the younger spaces and really reprogramming how we raise men."
This McCarthy took to mean that "boys would be instructed that differentiating men from women breeds domestic violence," and that was "how radical ideas -- like the Left's war on boys -- get mainstreamed." He proposed instead that we focus on "the breakdown of the family, the scorn heaped on chivalry, the disappearance of manners, and the general coarsening of our society that result from relentless progressive attacks on traditional values and institutions." If only boys opened doors for girls again, there'd be no need for this reprogramming! (Other key phrases in McCarthy's column: "the Obama Left's agenda," "ACORN," "Al Sharpton's National Action Network," and "Alinsky-style community organizing.")
Fagan wasn't the only woman rightbloggers were mad at. When NOW President Terry O'Neill complained about the Rice incident, Larry Elder roared, "What about NOW's indifference toward, if not acceptance of, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's sordid record of disgusting behavior toward women?" Also, what about Bill Clinton, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Wiley, Paula Jones, and Gennifer Flowers? How come their video footage didn't make NOW mad? (For more of the same, see radio shouter Mark Levin.)
Disdaining Brown's "wild attempt to connect the Ray Rice incident to a sexist culture in the NFL," George Neumayr of the American Spectator said oh yeah what about Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who had recently spoken without incident at Yale University? "When someone like Hirsi Ali makes a far more serious case for violence against women grounded in Islamic tradition, the Left throws a fit," said Neumayr. Why, those Muslims are almost as bad as Ted Kennedy.
"If women are the same as men, then how can they argue that a woman beaten by her boyfriend deserves special protection?" oh-shit-not-this-again'd Gina Loudon at WorldNetDaily. Loudon then argued that feminist doctrine -- specifically that "there is no difference between men and women," which we believe comes from Our Bodies, Ourselves -- meant that "you can't say that male abusers are more at fault than female abusers." But "despite old feminists' fantasies," she added, "women and men are not the same. American women are waking up to that fact, and as the co-author of a new book, 'What Women Really Want,' " etc., link to purchase provided.
At the New American, Selwyn Duke said oh yeah, what about Bill Clinton, Bob Filner, and Bob Packwood? Then, having run out of prominent Democrats to talk about, Duke posited that "it is liberal men -- feminist-oriented men -- who are most likely to abuse women." See, churchgoing people tend to be Republicans, and in one study churchgoers self-reported less domestic abuse than non-churchgoers. Libs hate God, so case closed!
If you need more, Duke said, "just consider feminist dogma. Liberals assert that men will treat women better if we scrap antiquated ideas such as chivalry, thought to be condescending, and passionately embrace notions of equality, which, liberals insist, means teaching boys to treat the sexes the same. Let's translate this: so we're telling little boys to treat girls the way they would other boys. And how might that be?" Translation: Equality means you get to smack a bitch up.
"This should a true 'duh' moment," added Duke. Indeed.
Some of the brethren saw in critics of off-the-field NFL violence evidence of what might be called Rice-baiting -- that is, Rice-pimping the unfortunate incidents to generate cash for their Rice-related causes.
"THE LEFT PREPARES TO CASH IN ON RAY RICE," cried Paul Mirengoff at Power Line.
"Whenever an institution becomes as massive as the NFL, the ideologically driven will attempt to enlist the institution for their own purposes," Mirengoff went on. Along with the more obvious ideologues, "some corporate sponsors -- Marriott Hotels, FedEx, PepsiCo and maybe others -- have also gotten into the act," not because they are, as recent history shows, PR-obsessed weasels, but because they "want to stay on the good side of liberal pressure groups like NOW....Corporate America is prone to roll over (up to a point) for liberal pressure groups. They do so in part because corporate America is, itself, liberal..." That explains all those diversity programs -- and now they're going to teach married people not to beat each other up! What is this, Russia?
At End of the American Dream, Michael Snyder went further: "the NFL has become a circus of political correctness," he claimed. For example, "the NFL recently banned advertisements from 'Slap Ya Mama Cajun Products.' " Why would they do that during a domestic violence controversy? Must be political! Worse, Snyder reported, NFL players wear pink accoutrements during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Soon they'll be wearing bras and panties, like Billy Martin predicted!
The Rice issue had not cooled when the world discovered the welts on Peterson's son, and suddenly we were hearing about the pros and cons of corporal punishment from amateur child-rearing experts across the country, including Sean Hannity, who said his old man beat him pretty good and he came out all right, which self-activating joke we're sure you've already gotten.
The brethren seemed a little tired by the time the Peterson case came up, but some put in solid effort to extract conservative points from it, with predictable results.
Aw, so cute, with little stars like when Nancy and Sluggo got beaten till they bled! (The Cagle Post.)
"NFL Star Adrian Peterson Is Facing Serious Jail Time For Something Our Parents Did Every Day," headlined Western Journalism (over photographs of the welts on the kid's legs).
Douglas V. Gibbs talked at the Canada Free Press about how he got beat with a switch as a kid, and though he retroactively approved of that, his wife wouldn't let him spank their own kids. Gibbs said the kids came out OK, though "I do believe their transition into adulthood would have been smoother had they been disciplined in a stronger manner as they were growing up." (We wonder what his wife thinks of this, assuming she's still around.)
However, Gibbs went on, "some people believe that any physical discipline, especially if an instrument is used, is abusive, and they have decided to force their view upon parents that do not agree with them...'If only,' they must've been thinking, 'if only we had a poster child, a high profile person to fry for his abusive disciplinary techniques, so that we can drive home the idea that whoopin's are child abuse.'"
And then the Devil delivered unto them Adrian Peterson! "Remember, people like Hillary Clinton says [sic] that parents can't be trusted with the raising of their children, and that it 'takes a village to raise a child,' " claimed Gibbs. "They are foaming at the mouth with the good fortune of the Peterson story falling in their laps...They did it with Sandy Hook when it came to Gun Control, and they are doing it with Adrian Peterson..." Try and keep this stuff quiet, guys -- admittedly, that's tough to do with mass murder, but there are ways to hit kids that don't leave marks.
At Hot Air, Jazz Shaw said the "dog pile on the NFL in general and Commissioner Roger Goodell in particular" was "not dissimilar to the general gang mentality which has so many broadcasters ready to pile on the police in every nook and cranny of the country in the wake of the Ferguson case."
Jack Cashill at American Thinker also had a Ferguson angle: "For all its controlled violence, football provides young men, many of them from troubled homes, with all the discipline they will ever know," he wrote. "Had Ferguson's Michael Brown -- all 6'4", 295 pounds of him -- grown up in a halfway functional household he would likely be alive and playing offensive tackle for some college today." Probably would have gotten out of some traffic tickets as well, unless liberals have ruined that for us, too!
"This is all so wildly disproportionate," sputtered National Review's Rich Lowry -- he was talking about the negative reactions, we should make clear, not the writings of his fellow rightbloggers -- "that perhaps something more than the usual ax-grinding, ratings chase, and group think is at work. It may be that these cases are ways to express a deeper discomfort with the NFL, which sacrifices men's bodies and minds for our viewing pleasure every week." And who might be expressing that discomfort? Maybe sissies -- if we're still allowed to use that noble word!
"The problem with this particular cultural conversation," said Lowry's colleague Nancy French, is "it's hard to conduct it rationally while looking at the photos of a little boy's legs. Peterson said he went overboard in his spanking that day. He didn't do it right." (Pro tip: Next time, try the rubber hose.) "Yet the Left demands that the Peterson case simply be the end of the question, the end of the spanking era."
French supported this last assertion with a quote from an anti-spanking advocate whose authority to speak for the Left must have been voted when we were out of the room. ("The Left, of course, knows the art of spinning a tale," she added; you have to admire her chutzpah.) But in rightblogger-world, nothing's either good or bad, but its propaganda potential makes it so.
Let us close with Eric Golub of Communities Digital News, one of the rare defenders of NFL commissioner Goodell, whose job is jeopardized by these scandals. "Goodell is not being attacked for anything he has done or failed to do," said Golub. "He is being attacked for his mere being."
What Golub meant was that Goodell's father was a Republican senator, and "Goodell is married to Jane Skinner, who used to be a widely respected on-air personality at Fox News. That sounds like a pretty Republican household." By contrast, sportswriters are a bunch of commies ("NBC's Bob Costas has also aggressively pushed gun control").
Golub's nut graf (in one sense, anyway) was this:
"The NFL makes plenty of money, just like Walmart and those oil companies liberals hate so much. The NFL is violent, which bothers the leftist peaceniks as much as they are bothered by gun manufacturers. It is male-dominated, which offends the radical feminists. It is pro-military and overtly pro-American, which the left derides as jingoistic. Commissioner Goodell is tall, handsome, white, male and married to a beautiful blonde wife. He also has perfect hair. He is everything the liberal media loathes."We tend to think of conspiracy theorists as nuts raving about chemtrails, but really -- when you're that deeply immersed in partisan politics, anything that happens can be part of one.