Slut-Shaming Men For Their Sexuality DESTROYS Love And Sex For Everyone

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It's well past time to give men a break.

Male sexuality is intensely under attack in the increasingly heated social debate related to pornography.

Though women also watch and make pornography, most of the current debates focus on aspects of masculine sexual behaviors. These behaviors include masturbation, viewing of pornography, hiring prostitutes or enjoying sexual entertainment like strip clubs.

Promiscuity, sex without commitment, and use of sex to manage stress or anxiety are all common to male sexuality, whether we like it or not.

But, male sexuality is not a disease, and it is not a public health crisis. It is not evil, and it does not overpower men’s lives or choices.

Shaming men for these behaviors isolates men and ignores powerful, important and healthy aspects of masculinity.

There is a common perception of male sexuality as intrinsi­cally selfish, and as overly focused on “scoring,” sexual conquest. anonymous, “soulless” sex, and on outward manifestations of virility.

Feminist author Nancy Friday wrote, “Men’s love of women is often greater than their love of self.”  

Indeed, there are other, oft neglected sides of male eroticism. Straight men are far more focused upon women’s needs and intimacy with women than we give them credit for.

Some examples include these facts:

  • Men give up friends and male camaraderie and accept a life of economic support of women, even leading up to an earlier death, all in order to be with women.
  • More than half of all men describe that their best sexual encounters came when they “gave a woman physical pleasure beyond her dreams.”
  • Men redi­rect their selfishness away from their own satisfaction, and toward a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment, by giving sexual satisfaction.
  • Male sexuality often involves an intense focus on the needs of their partners, and men gain great pleasure, even a strong sense of manliness, from giving their lover sexual pleasure.

In fact, men’s desire to sexually satisfy their partners often comes at the price of their own satisfaction. When a man is unable to make his partner orgasm, many men report incredible frustration, disappointment, and self-doubt.

Women even complain that men put so much pressure and intent upon helping the woman achieve orgasm that the act ceases to be pleasurable and starts to feel more like childbirth. In such cases, women fake orgasms — not for themselves, but to satisfy their partner’s needs.

Until a woman has an orgasm, a man doesn’t think he’s done his job, and his masculinity hangs in the balance.

Men are taught from a young age that they must be sexually competent and sexually powerful with exaggerated and impossible ideals.

Surveys of sex in America find that men are far more insecure and anxious about their sexual performance than women are.

Nearly 30 percent of men fear that they ejaculate too soon. Most men sometimes experience erectile dysfunction connected to anxiety.  And one man in every six reports significant worries about his sexual abilities to satisfy his partner.

These are huge burdens that men carry, and they represent just some of the reasons many men pursue other forms of sex such as masturbation while watching porn.

Compared to women, men actually experience greater pain and psychological disruption from the ups and downs of romantic relationships. Not only do the negative aspects of a romantic relationship hurt men more than women, but the positive aspects and benefits of that relationship have greater impact upon the man than the woman.

Women are taught from childhood to access outside support from friends and family, so they often fare better than men in times of emotional difficulty. In contrast, men often remain isolated and burdened with the learned expectation that they shouldn’t feel pain, or if they do, "real" men must suffer it alone.

As for the perception that men only want sex, the truth is that physical affection and sexual bonding are one of the main avenues through which we feel loved, accepted, and well-regarded. For many men, it is only through physical love that we can voice tenderness and express our desire for togetherness and physical bonding.

Only through sex can we let down our boundaries and drop our armor enough to feel safe being emotionally vulnerable.

Sex plays a less important role in the lives of women as a form of acceptance and mutual regard because women feel comfortable touching each other all the time — with hugs, holding hands, closer body contact, and smaller “personal space.”

Men shake hands. Really good friends might, at best, punch each other in a loving way, do a careful “man hug,” or even swat each other’s rear-end during an approved, masculine sporting event. (Many homosexual men experience this differently, of course, once they come out and become part of the LGBTQ community.)

So the body-to-body contact that sex offers feeds an appetite, a craving, that men are often starved near to death for.

And yet, male sexuality is portrayed as something men must guard against.

It is often described as a demonic force lurking within our souls which must be constrained, feared, and even rejected.

Men are portrayed as powerless to control themselves in the face of sexual arousal that is too strong. Men are painted as weak, harmed, and warped by sexual experiences such as pornography. As a result, men hear the message that they should be ashamed of, and go with satisfying, the sexual desires society calls unhealthy.

Tragically, an essential part of all men is lost when we encourage them to split them­selves from their sexuality.

Unfortunately, as we teach men to be men — to understand, accept, and express their masculinity — we rarely attend adequately to the loving, nurturing, and amo­rous side of men.

The most positive way society and media currently portray male sexuality is when depicting it as a bumbling and stupid force that turns men into fools who are easily led by our penises. And far more often, male sexuality is depicted as a force that hovers just on the edge of rape, rage and destruction at all times.

What is necessary for a healthy man — for complete masculinity — is the in­tegration, consolidation, and incorporation of ALL the varied aspects of our sexuality.

When we try to cut our desires for love and sex from ourselves as though they are cancerous tumors, we run the risk of creat­ing men without compassion, without tenderness, and without the ability to nurture.

It is easy to suggest that what we are trying to cut are the most primitive parts of men’s eroticism — those desires to rape, dominate, and sat­isfy oneself selfishly. But in truth, those desires, as frightening as they can be, are integrally linked to male emotional desires for safety, acceptance, protection of others, and belonging.

Those characteristics men are most admired and respected for — strength, courage, independence, and assertiveness — are the same things which contribute to the differences in male and female sexuality.

By condemning these characteristics, we run the real and frightening risk of abolishing qualities that are essential to healthy masculinity.

A healthy male is one who accepts and understands his erotic and sexual desires, along with his drive for success, dominance (often submission as well), and excellence.

Healthy sexual choices come from internal acceptance and awareness, not rejection and shame. Research has shown that all men have the ability to exercise control over their levels of sexual arousal and sexual behavior, but no men can fully suppress their sexual desire.

Healthy men can go to strip clubs and watch pornography conscious sexual choices for which they accept any potential consequences.

We need to begin encouraging personal integrity, responsibility, self-awareness and respect, both for oneself and one’s sexual partner(s).

This is, I think, the goal for all men — to make their sexual choices an integrated part of who they are and of the kind of man they desire to be.

As long as we continue to shame and condemn men, both in general and for specific sexual acts such as watching porn, we are merely isolating men further and making matters worse for everyone.

Parts of this post were originally published on The Goodmen Project.

This article was originally published at Psychology Today. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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