So, I was discussing with some of my venerable r/Shitredditsays Colleagues about men’s sexuality this morning.
One of the things as a feminist I find so terribly frustrating is this constant mantra from many men about how men cannot control themselves and cannot control their own sexuality. If true, that’s pretty damn shitty, but I know enough men, and have heard enough men talk about how untrue and hurtful this stereotype is.
My main issue is that many men seem to embrace this stereotype and use it as an excuse for everything from creeping on random girls on the internet to rape. My dad embraces this stereotype and I love my dad so the fact that he thinks so poorly of his own sexuality (a phrase I hope to never write again. I have a mental block about thinking of my parents and sex.) and the sexuality of all men bothers me. It worries me, because he sees other men as a threat to myself and my sister, despite the fact that he raised us to be level-headed when it comes to relationships (true facts, he talked to me about statistical probability of “the one” when I started to ask about relationships) and sees any men we date as a bit worrying generally.
Male sexuality is strangely policed by a combination of macho patriarchal attitudes involving virility and power that it seems no one really desires to work on or deconstruct. Now, don’t get me wrong, we can’t always control what we are sexually aroused by, but controlling reactions to that attraction and how we express those reactions is something that everyone can take personal responsibility for. The idea that men cannot control themselves from their biological urges is quite frankly insulting to all men.
If this stereotype isn’t true, and I really believe it isn’t for 99.9% of all men, then not only women, but men need to actively point out that this stereotype hurts everyone. If there’s one thing I think the Men’s Rights movement can do effectively on their own, right now (to make more substantial strides in terms of legislation and their other issues they’ll still need wider support), is to start by squashing the narrative that men cannot control themselves within their own movement. If they care about equality, then they need to start by looking internally at narratives that many men buy into and espouse. By changing the language of the discussion, both male and female slut shaming can be cut back, rape can decrease, and the fear some men complain about when they are alone with women or children will be mitigated. And as a bonus, women may start to become more trusting of men after a while.
I’d say women need to do this, but quite frankly, when it comes to changing the language of sexuality and sexual desire, we, despite our repeated assertions don’t seem to be able to get through to many men, who persist in the same stereotypes of women, no matter what women say to the contrary.
If men are going to be the sexuality police, they need to start with themselves to more fully change the narrative of male sexuality. And that’s how it should be.
Easy actions to do here:
- See the stereotype, educate the person saying it.
- Don’t propagate the stereotype yourself.
Simple, easy, like falling off a log.