Today in stereotypes that hurt everybody: “Men can’t control themselves.”

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.

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About Dee

Dee is a hardworking twenty-something working as a medical librarian in Texas. Her ability to go on tangents and create non-sensical metaphors is almost legendary.
This entry was posted in Feminism, Men's Rights, Reddit, Sex and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Today in stereotypes that hurt everybody: “Men can’t control themselves.”

  1. Ryan says:

    I agree. This upsets me quite a bit when I see this stereotype being pushed. As a male who is in complete control of his sexual urges It saddens me to see folks trying to use this one as an excuse for behavior. It needs to die out and not come back.

  2. Sigil says:

    Its pretty hatefully of the blog author to conflate “rapist” with “men” like that.
    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.
    Citation needed
    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.
    Citation needed
    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.
    I’ve never seen this stereotype being spread in the men’s movement.
    Your source – shitredditsays – produces more bigotry than another sub-reddit that I’ve seen http://www.reddit.com/r/BigotryShowcase/
    eg. SRS mod: “hetero cis men are actually disgusting” “the most disgusting group on the planet.”
    There are also an organised trolling an upvote brigade, http://www.reddit.com/r/BigotryShowcase/comments/lxixy/quis_custodiet_ipsos_custodes/
    Following a couple of links from the somethingfeministy blog. Misty from shaksville stereotypes domestic violence as gendered “Domestic violence occurs within every class, age group, race, and religion. It happens within same and different sex partnerships. It happens whether people are married, living together, or dating. Approximately one in four women has been a victim of domestic violence. Too often society–like with rape–places the blame on the victim and not the perpetrator. We need to change that.
    Duluth wheel stereotypes domestic abuse as gendered
    http://tcfv.org/pdf/Updated_wheels/advocacy%20wheel.pdf
    I think that some feminists need to work on closing the honesty gap. This debate doesn’t get anywhere and people in the mens movement have to trawl through a seemingly endless web of fallacies, lies, deceit and sexist hypocrisy

  3. veerserif says:

    Firstly, thumbs up for pissing off the r/MR people, because that’s always worth a laugh.

    One of the things I find incredibly hypocritical of the MRM (or at least, that ridiculous section I have come into contact with) is the fact that they portray themselves as breaking gender stereotypes, then rush to embrace them again. That ridiculous obsession with “sperm stealing”, coupled with their frankly infantile hatred of “females”, ultimately does them so much more harm than good. They aren’t rejecting gender stereotypes. You don’t even need to push them in the direction of sexist archetypes, just give them a light tap and they’ll do the rest.

  4. Miriam says:

    Great post!
    I’m pretty sure the few men who really do have problems controlling their sexual urges have those problems because culture has taught them that they’re uncontrollable, and not because they’re biologically incapable of it.

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