This is part 2 of our conversation on masculinity where we get real about the challenges men face with strict gender conformity and how it ties in with relationships. Today we’re focusing on sex – the myths, the misconceptions, and the reflections. We unpack some of the biases and challenges that men face in the bedroom.
And to keep you in the loop, during the month of June, I’ll be revamping the podcast to expand the reach of people who want to join in these conversations with us. I’ll be coming back with a brand new title and new episodes in July so enjoy this last release and always feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are a few of the ideas we discuss:
Boys’ first experiences with porn and sexual excitement – who is teaching boys about sexual education?
Exploring Erectile Dysfunction as a manifestation of a vulnerable internal state of mind: anxiety, self-esteem, body-image, depression, performance anxiety, etc.
What are some ways that men would prefer to be treated in relationships?
Keeping your partner current on what you want from the relationship sexually and emotionally
The importance of sexual communication within relationships and during the heat of the moment
The myth that men are “easy” and constantly “ready to go” sexually
The patriarchal policing of men by using the term “gay” for a man who doesn’t follow the hetero-normative male code
Sexual fluidity is not the same thing as sexual orientation, and the stereotypes of men who are more sexual fluid with the same sex
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Welcome to episode 25 of F*ck Like a Woman. Today, I’m discussing toxic masculinity, redefining gender roles, and how some of our sexual stereotypes about men directly impact their sex lives. This episode isn’t meant to attack men or tell men they need to be more sensitive or that they have to discard their whole masculinity. And it certainly isn’t meant as a gender war to spark debates about who is the greater villain or who is the greater victim. For time’s sake we can only cover a fraction of the full potential of this conversation, but I hope it initiates some thoughtful conversation for you in safe spaces. My intention is to let men know they have choices, they have options, and one of the options available is that they can still keep the masculine attributes that feel comfortable for them, but we have to identify what defining parts of masculinity continue to be toxic to men, women, little boys, and little girls because those parts have got to go. The aggression, the violence, and the perpetual need to establish dominance and maintain control are among the most concerning elements of toxic masculinity. In fact, one of the 9 predictors of divorce that the Gottman Institute discovered is men’s inability to accept influence from their women. So if we think these conversations don’t directly affect our daily lives, think again.
With that said, let me ask you: Don’t you want full access to all of the capabilities you have as a human being? We let ourselves be controlled by forces outside ourselves all the time – for the good and for the bad. But when it’s to the detriment of our ability to be a full human being, then you’re really cheating yourself and you’re being cheated by these systems out of your greatest potential. You only have 1 life to live, don’t you want it to be a damn good one?
When you get men alone, you hear sometimes completely different messages than when they’re in front of other guys or even women.
So for you men out there who have ever felt that you don’t quite fit into this rigid box of masculinity, you are not alone. Therapists have known this for a long time. If you could hear what I hear as a coach, you would know that lots of men don’t feel they quite measure up to this one main way of doing masculinity, but they feel the pressure of losing social status if they don’t keep up the outward display for women, but especially for other men.
It doesn’t mean you’re weak, less manly or less masculine to question these things
In fact, I would argue that not bucking the norm of this one rigid way of doing masculinity is actually a very passive stance
Toxic masculinity specifically is really a caricature of a very antiquated way of doing masculinity to the detriment of everyone’s mental and physical health – men, women, and children. Men’s violence, which is a primary component of toxic masculinity, is connected not just to women, but to other men and to themselves also – the same system that produces men who abuse women, creates men who abuse other men and boys, and who abuse themselves via male suicide
I believe that when a man bucks the masculine norms and rejects the notion of being seen as an animalistic, unemotional, aggressive, and a sexually aggressive caveman who is always ready to fuck, always ready to fight, always ready to prove he’s a real man, who can “grab women by the pussy” cause he’s gonna give her what she deserves, he’s actually demonstrating that he’s very subversive, very autonomous, and fully self-determined in making his own choices and he isn’t going to let someone else narrowly and rigidly define who he is and how he’s going to be portrayed.
And these ideas directly impact and effect our sex lives. In the last 30 minutes of my video, I talk about women’s role in perpetuating some of these male sexual stereotypes that make it difficult for men to express themselves in a more transparent way.
We all have a part to play in creating and facilitating these conversations, just like we do for any other form of discrimination – but let’s not kid ourselves, certain groups of people have more responsibility in leading the way, specifically the members of the dominant groups who are benefiting from these systemic privileges and maintaining the control
Usually the people who criticize social progress are those who have either not educated themselves on the issues that directly affect the lives of those who are suffering or they are the very people who benefit from things staying the same
A lot of times a sign that you can tell if someone is the benefactor of a certain type of privilege is if that the issue is actually invisible to them, it means that they’re not the one who is dealing with the negative consequences of it and therefore they can’t or don’t want to recognize its legitimacy
As Martin Luther King, Jr. was quoted saying in the struggle for civil rights, “In the end what will hurt the most is not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
I think underneath a lot of what’s so concerning about this for men is that they wonder if they’ll have any value after we neutralize their masculinity – it’s kind of like, what am I supposed to do now? If I’m not allowed to be the protector, the rock, the provider, or whatever, then what? Where do i find my identity, my value, my worth, the thing that only i can provide, the thing that you can’t get from your girlfriends, your job, or your children, your vibrator. This is what I know how to do and how to be, and now i’m being told I shouldn’t be or do this, so how do I maintain some sort of worth.
We live in a culture with mixed signals – rewarded sometimes yet other times told something else. Tell your sons, I expect more from you
What’s at stake?
It’s much easier to build healthy children than to repair broken men. – Fredrick Douglas
BOYS WILL BE BOYS IS ACTUALLY AN ANTI-MALE STATEMENT –
This argument is made to defend bad behavior
This idea that men can’t control themselves and dont have the mental capacity to control their actions and have full control over their faculties
That men aren’t moral actors and agents who can make ethical decisions – they’re just “BEASTS”
If that doesn’t sound like having low expectations for men, I don’t know what does
The “Wussification” of men –
The question should be: what does it mean to be strong?
Not centered around aggression – so antiquated
This is a caricature
Apologizing = admitting weakness
This is neanderthal thinking – this is absurdity on a high level
But also on this note, we need to recognize that the ability and risk for certain boys and men who live in particular sub-cultures within our larger american culture have significantly harder challenges challenging this dominant version of masculinity because their safety is literally at stake – so you could maybe even make the argument that saying, “you just have to speak up” is a privileged point of view to a large extent. Its not saying it’s impossible to pick and choose your battles, but it’s not so simple in some communities where the stakes are much higher. To survive.
So much of young boys and young men life has direct ties to their family life
Sexual abuse in military by men to men – overwhelming perpetrators and significant amount of victims – “Spotlight” movie about Catholic church sexual scandals
It was women feminists who brought these topics up and don’t get credit for shining light on sexual abuse to boys and young men – but you never hear this in the public conversation, instead they’re portrayed as anti-male and male bashing
These are LEADERSHIP issues for men, not sensitivity training
Not because you’re a nice guy helping out the women, but because you’re a leader and we need to raise the bar
True prevention is going to the root of the problem – and this means going to boys and men
And the men were talked to as you’d better do this or else you’re going to have trouble with the law (Men were focused on as perps or potential perps) – turns men off, they tune out – I’m a good guy, it’s a problem but its not my problem
We need to raise the bar a little higher for what it means to be a good guy in america for 2019 – you shouldn’t get high fives for not being a rapist
Challenge and interrupting the behavior
Members of the dominant group – white, heterosexual, male for example – it’s your job to challenge them – if you don’t say something, what are you saying? Attitudes influence actions
“Those who remain neutral take the side of the oppressor”
Start with more concrete things and examples, instead of going for the grey areas like comedy – there’s a context, nuance, and subtly
Think critically and introspectively about their language and behavior – they need to make those determinations for themselves
You have to step out of your comfort zone to gain any kind of understanding
Everybody wants to find a place and a person who accepts them despite what their body looks like, despite their education, the salary they make, their sexual background, their sexual attraction market value (conventional attractiveness) – everyone wants this, this is something that transcends every difference we all have
As Kamala Harris says, “You don’t let people tell you who you are, you tell THEM who you are.”