What is "Male Sexuality?"

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Post by Chickpea Sarada on Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:38 pm

This is based on something mentioned in another thread that, personally, I'd rather not touch.  So here's a separate thread for it.

In practically every article I've seen about a subject like sexual harassment or consent, there was always someone in the comments ranting about (heterosexual) men's sexuality being attacked, devalued, demonized, etc.  I usually would feel tempted to reply something along the lines of, "We're talking about violating boundaries and invading personal space without permission, is that what male sexuality is?" Side-eye  

That was meant to be rhetorical, but then when I tried wording it like, "What even is male sexuality anyway?" I thought maybe this particular question could be a genuine answerable question.

How are men's sexual desires being attacked?  What specifically are the desires being attacked?  ("The desire to..." or "The desire for...")  What does (hetero)male sexuality mean?
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Post by Guest on Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:01 am

Chickpea Sarada wrote:"We're talking about violating boundaries and invading personal space without permission, is that what male sexuality is?" Side-eye

The cynical bastard in me says, yeah, this is what it is. Or at least, this is an often portrayed, acceptable expression of male sexuality. Which is of course creepy and disturbing.

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Post by Jayce on Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:16 am

To me male sexuality is the amalgamation of things related to the male gender which includes, matters concerning sex, relationships, gender roles.


When people state they that their male sexuality is being attacked, to me I think they mean that they don't like getting shit for identifying as male. For example if someone states men are assholes, a sensitive person might think it applies to them and only applies to them cause they have a penis and not because of other reasons.

Whether the person making the statement really do mean all people with a penis are terrible human beings or just human beings who act terribly but happen to be male, is sometimes overlooked because there is a tendency to focuse on the words that come out of the person's mouth instead of examining words+possible intent. This is pretty natural, I do it sometimes. Because the way they are communicating their statement is not the super clearest of clearest, made the other person felt hurt. Or another misunderstandin could be that the guy feels that he is being discussed regardless of what kind of man is being discussed (i.e Scott Aaronson feeling that he is a creepy rapist himself, because women have pointed out other men as being creeps)

If we are to assume some parts of gender identity to be natural instead of a social construction, one can be led to believe for example, men approaching women is a natural occurence or process, instead of one that is consciously crafted by society. So if someone says men are creepy for approaching on the street, someone who believes the aforementioned might think:"but men are supposed to approach women! So I can't do what I'm supposed to do?" So they might feel that another person is just hating on them for having a penis, because to them having a penis means you are locked into the role of approacher. Therefore these people make statements about their sexuality being attacked.

I'm not saying statements about male sexuality being attacked is an over reaction or a joke though. This can be a serious issue. There are some people out do who do attack male sexuality. I've met women who really do think ALL guys are assholes. I'm pretty sure i some cases men didn't take custody of the divorced child because men are seen as unemotional or unable to care.

Thats how I've interpreted it and the best way I can explain it at the moment.

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Post by Conreezy on Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:36 am

In practically every article I've seen about a subject like sexual harassment or consent, there was always someone in the comments ranting about (heterosexual) men's sexuality being attacked, devalued, demonized, etc. I usually would feel tempted to reply something along the lines of, "We're talking about violating boundaries and invading personal space without permission, is that what male sexuality is?"

Making a partner uncomfortable should not be part of any sexual experience, but regrettably men are trained to take an aggressive attitude towards sex while everyone is trained to avoid clear communication concerning it. While some people can find that fun to experience (on either end), some times, it has a hell of a potential dark side.

It gives me pause when I wonder what women might find attractive in me: any of my ostensibly attractive qualities could be very threatening with only a slightly different context or incorrect timing.

How are men's sexual desires being attacked? What specifically are the desires being attacked? ("The desire to..." or "The desire for...") What does (hetero)male sexuality mean?

In the more prudish American culture, I've noticed a tendency to be less accepting of the drawbacks of male sexuality (which is great). But because of that, it seems like men are seen as barely restrained animals, and when "boys will be boys" was once an excuse used to shrug off bad male behavior without consequence, it's now seems like an insult.

Admittedly, loads of men sure as shit aren't helping to dispel the stereotypes, but the fact that a man is sexually successful with multiple, non-commited partners (or just desires to be) doesn't have to mean that he's somehow emotionally damaged or immature. I think DNL has mentioned that sort of presentation of men in films and such.

(I was listening to "Stop in the Name of Love" they other day and thinking about how odd that sort of subservient song would sound today. Beyonce would remind us boys again that we are replaceable. Razz)

What even is male sexuality anyway?

After 29 years of being male, I really don't know.

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Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:25 am

Kind of the other side of the "toxic masculinity" catch-22.

According to cultural narrative, male sexuality is aggressive and selfish and proactive. If you aren't actively fighting for what you want, or if "what you want" isn't sexual intercourse, you're less of a Man.

(And it's Very Important that you be a Real Man. Wouldn't want to be one of those unnatural rainbow people, no sir. We all must keep to identical lifestyles, like god intended when it printed us from the fab'.)

In other words, it's The Problem. But it isn't always easily recognized as such, because...well, buying into it makes it easier for a lot of people to feel like they "fit in". And getting to be part of the in-group really is Very Important.

Even if you don't buy into it, then that becomes part of your identity, at least for a short while. You're that special snowflake who was too smart and kind and caring to be that "alpha male" jerk who presses a woman against a wall, cutting off her escape as he leans in....

At least until it becomes clear that some women like that, and nobody likes you, and therefore Jerkface McTheFonz has always had a way better shot at finding sources of long-term happiness than you ever will.

So that by the time you're desperate enough to admit you need help (which is already un-Manly™) and go looking for dating advice, you've already pretty much made up your mind that being undemanding and sensitive and solicitous of others' feelings is exactly why you're in your current predicament to begin with. And then you start seeing contradictory sources of advice. The "be generous and kind and considerate toward others" flavor of advice is easily ignored and discarded for obvious reasons*. The "be more conventionally Manly™" flavor appears on the surface to at least be backed by some reproducible data, so it earns some consideration despite feeling somewhat... wrong. And the thing is most people are already pretty well aware that selfish/self-serving behavior at the expense of others is wrong. I suspect some of the dudes you're thinking of are feeling "ashamed" mainly because it feels really weird to be told something you already know is true and yet still want to argue.

Because with life experiences like ours, it's sometimes really easy to become convinced that "male sexuality", as horrible and problematic as many of the concepts attached to that are, is what you want from us.

Is "male sexuality" under attack? I really don't think so. Frankly, I wish it was. But keep in mind that I don't have much capacity for sympathy with the concept, because often when my male-ness is under scrutiny, or when I'm doing that to myself, it seems to me that my lack of sexuality is responsible.

(*Including but not limited to: ethical dubiousness of acting "good" for the sake of anticipated rewards; existing life experiences in which those behaviors pretty clearly led to a net loss despite feeling gratifying in the short run; difficulty of properly implementing such behavior when the vague and ever-shifting mechanics of social interaction were the problem in the first place...)
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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:25 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:Kind of the other side of the "toxic masculinity" catch-22.

According to cultural narrative, male sexuality is aggressive and selfish and proactive. If you aren't actively fighting for what you want, or if "what you want" isn't sexual intercourse, you're less of a Man.

I agree, this is bad.

nearly_takuan wrote:In other words, it's The Problem. But it isn't always easily recognized as such, because...well, buying into it makes it easier for a lot of people to feel like they "fit in". And getting to be part of the in-group really is Very Important.

You seem to say that ironically, but it actually *is* a very important variable for human coordination. Humans try to reduce complexity for decision making. This is an important element for that. It's at odds with freedom, which is a problem, but that doesn't mean it's not an important aspect in its own right.

nearly_takuan wrote:Even if you don't buy into it, then that becomes part of your identity, at least for a short while. You're that special snowflake who was too smart and kind and caring to be that "alpha male" jerk who presses a woman against a wall, cutting off her escape as he leans in....

At least until it becomes clear that some women like that, and nobody likes you, and therefore Jerkface McTheFonz has always had a way better shot at finding sources of long-term happiness than you ever will.

I find it interesting you mention that wall thing, because that's been one of my personal problems. It's *always* been women, female friends and potential sexual/romantic interests, who told me to gently push women against the wall. One close friend even worked on it with me, so I read the situtation better and get the timing right. So, in my personal eperience, this is not just a few women who like this, it's a large majority. I'd say - there are some women who don't like this, not the other way around.

nearly_takuan wrote:The "be more conventionally Manly™" flavor appears on the surface to at least be backed by some reproducible data, so it earns some consideration despite feeling somewhat... wrong.

Well, you can't really get around the data, so the question becomes one of "attribution" - is the right thing credited with being successful. Thing is, I'm not sure that will matter much in most cases like this, because even if the success is a consequence of actually putting oneself out there, and that putting oneself out there is a consequence of believing in the effectiveness of being conventionally Manly(tm) then "being conventionally Manly(tm)" works, if only indirectly.

nearly_takuan wrote:Because with life experiences like ours, it's sometimes really easy to become convinced that "male sexuality", as horrible and problematic as many of the concepts attached to that are, is what you want from us.

True. And many women will even tell you so if asked specifically, including individual feminists. This is, again, where the whole double bind thing comes into play, because the feeling that it is "somewhat... wrong" is reinforced by the feminist *discourse*/narrative, which becomes important, because it taps into our own feeling that it is "somewhat wrong", where ever that feeling originates from, and it doesn't offer any way out of the double bind.

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Post by Caffeinated on Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:27 pm

I'm really glad to see this thread. I've thought many times of starting a thread about male sexuality myself, and never quite pulled the trigger. I have many thoughts.

Thought the first is what I personally feel and think about male sexuality based on my own individual life experiences as a straight woman. I think male sexuality is beautiful. Magical. Wonderful. I have a couple stories to tell to illustrate.

First story is from when I was a teenager and first had sex with my first serious boyfriend (I was also his first, and we dated for nearly two years). Before we got together, I was a totally boy-crazy girl but very insecure about my looks and whether I was good enough. We had sex after dating for several months, and afterward he told me I was beautiful, and something about the experience we had just shared and the look on his face ... well, I believed him. And it changed the way I saw myself from then on. Suddenly my eyes were opened to seeing myself that way, and I would walk down the street and notice men look at me, and I'd see in their eyes that they saw me that way too, and it was wonderful to me.

Second story is from when I was in my early 30s and my first husband said he wanted a divorce. My heart was shattered into a million pieces (even though he did things in the most humane way possible, and was right about the ways that we were growing apart). I thought I'd never feel anything but despair again. And then after we separated I spent a couple months doing online dating and having casual sex. I had several one night stands and several short term things with guys I saw a few times. And those men and their beautiful sexuality acted as the balm that helped me start to put myself back together and start to heal. I felt that they showed such a generosity of spirit. I could be exactly who I was in that moment, as sad and hurting as I was, and the way they would look at me and the way they would touch me let me know I was accepted, wanted, just as I was. They made me feel that the sense of rejection and personal failure I had because of the divorce wasn't the only truth about me, that I was still real, that I could still go on.

My next set of thoughts goes into theorizing, but I have to do some things now, so I'll have to come back later and make another post on that.
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Post by Conreezy on Wed Feb 11, 2015 3:07 pm

I felt that they showed such a generosity of spirit.

Are you saying that masculine sexuality has a more generous spirit in terms of what's accepted as attractive?

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Post by Robjection on Wed Feb 11, 2015 3:39 pm

What is "Male Sexuality?" S6kog9d
SomeSamSeaborn, I know for a fact that the moderation team told you to keep any thoughts about the negative impact feminism has on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality in one thread (specifically this thread) and you've gone and talked about them in here, thereby violating a mod request.

As a result, you have been banned for 24 hours while the moderation team decides what to do with you.
What is "Male Sexuality?" VVRiDP9

ETA (by Enail): The ban will be for one month. Sam, please see your PMs when you return for a mod note.

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Post by reboundstudent on Wed Feb 11, 2015 3:59 pm

Totally off topic: that collection of gifs made me cackle with glee. Thank you for the laugh today.

What is "Male Sexuality?" Giphy
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Post by Dan_Brodribb on Wed Feb 11, 2015 4:32 pm

Chickpea Sarada wrote:
That was meant to be rhetorical, but then when I tried wording it like, "What even is male sexuality anyway?" I thought maybe this particular question could be a genuine answerable question.

How are men's sexual desires being attacked?  What specifically are the desires being attacked?  ("The desire to..." or "The desire for...")  What does (hetero)male sexuality mean?

I'm male and I'm sexual, but I couldn't offer a description of male sexuality. I found Caffeinated's description hot, for what it's worth. It's an ideal I'd like to live up to, although in the reality of my relationships I can be both more and less than that.

I DO think I know the feeling the ranters are trying to describe because I've experienced myself.

It's a feeling that you are a bad person because of what your body wants.

I think discussions on harassment can trigger those feelings for some of us guys, but I don't think it CREATES it. Other things can trigger it too, and it seems to vary from person to person. I don't know why.

It IS an unpleasant feeling though and when we feel something unpleasant, one option is to lash out at whatever it is triggered the feeling. Another is to start to believe that feeling. Some of us will even do both.

It's not really about the subject though, or even the people doing the discussion. It's something about us.

The trouble is, we don't always realize that.

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Post by BiSian on Wed Feb 11, 2015 4:43 pm

I love that we've started this topic. Female person, so I'm inclined to keep my mouth shut and listen, but I do wanna add that I've personally experienced some truly wonderful examples of male sexuality.


Also, for those reading at home: DO NOT PUSH A WOMAN AGAINST A WALL. There are specific circumstances where this move can work, and will even be welcome. Those circumstances are 400/500 level flirtations and/or done with people you have a well-established rapport.
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Post by Caffeinated on Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:14 pm

Part the next of my thoughts on male sexuality. I find it incomprehensible. Or, more to the point, when I've heard or read men's descriptions of their internal thoughts about women and sexuality, I tend to find them baffling, sometimes disturbing, occasionally frightening. There have been times where I've been really freaked out by reading stuff men have said about women, and had to pull back from looking at that kind of thing, because it was so alienating. It seems very odd to me that my lived experience of interacting with men in a sexual way has been so overwhelmingly positive, but hearing the way men think about sex can be so offputting and negative.

I've thought about this a lot, and come up with some ideas on it. I'm nervous to write this stuff, because it's still a bit disorganized my mind, and I'm afraid I'll botch it and everyone will think I'm weird and bad and wrong. But oh well, let's give it a try anyway.

I'm pregnant with my third child right now. The experience of pregnancy has changed the way I view some things. Specifically, it's changed my view on how my mind and thoughts and feelings and sense of self is tied to my body. Being pregnant has been, for me, a real rollercoaster ride of emotions, and often I've felt like I'm a very different person. It's made me seriously doubt the way I thought about the mind-body connection when I was younger. I used to look at them as more separate, and tenuously connected. But the way that changes in my body have made these giant changes in how I think and feel, and then changed again when my body changed again (differences between never been pregnant, to pregnant, to right after giving birth, to nursing, to no longer nursing, etc), it's made me think that our minds are very heavily determined by our bodies. Basically that our bodies give rise to our minds, that they could hardly be separated at all.

So, given the idea that our bodies give rise to our minds, and that there are some big differences between male bodies and female bodies (keeping in mind that there are also big differences inside each of those groups) as far as hormones and physiological things, it made me wonder if our minds are not in fact much more different from each other than I had previously considered them to be. It made me wonder, what if the incomprehensible ways men describe their internal experiences around women and sex are a result of the sort of mind that a particular kind of body gives rise to. What if I can't understand what they're saying because my body gives rise to a different sort of mind. The thing is, when I read women's accounts of their internal experiences around sexuality, even when I might disagree, I usually feel like I understand what they're saying.

So I got to thinking about why it seems that every time a woman writes or says something about sexuality, something that to me seems entirely understandable, there will appear in the discussion a man or men who think that men's sexuality is being attacked or demonized. It has always seemed so very bizarre to me, because those comments seemed to come up no matter how reasonable the tone or mild the thought expressed. It was almost as though the men making the comments found what the women were saying to be, well, incomprehensible.
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Post by Caffeinated on Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:38 pm

Conreezy wrote:
I felt that they showed such a generosity of spirit.

Are you saying that masculine sexuality has a more generous spirit in terms of what's accepted as attractive?

Hmm, that's part of it. Hard to really explain. I almost left it as just 'generosity', but that runs the risk of being interpreted as financial, which isn't what I mean. It's more... kind of the desire to make things nice for both of us? And also... kindness. And also... that look on a person's face when you first show up and they're really happy to see you. I don't know, some mix of all that.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Feb 11, 2015 6:59 pm

Caffeinated wrote:
Hmm, that's part of it. Hard to really explain. I almost left it as just 'generosity', but that runs the risk of being interpreted as financial, which isn't what I mean. It's more... kind of the desire to make things nice for both of us? And also... kindness. And also... that look on a person's face when you first show up and they're really happy to see you. I don't know, some mix of all that.

This is interesting, because to me none of those things are part of sexuality, and if they were I still wouldn't associate them with male sexuality. Reminds me of the other thread about doing woman, I suppose. None of the things you're talking about are included in what we "are taught"(tm) about doing man.
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Post by Caffeinated on Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:17 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:
Caffeinated wrote:
Hmm, that's part of it. Hard to really explain. I almost left it as just 'generosity', but that runs the risk of being interpreted as financial, which isn't what I mean. It's more... kind of the desire to make things nice for both of us? And also... kindness. And also... that look on a person's face when you first show up and they're really happy to see you. I don't know, some mix of all that.

This is interesting, because to me none of those things are part of sexuality, and if they were I still wouldn't associate them with male sexuality. Reminds me of the other thread about doing woman, I suppose. None of the things you're talking about are included in what we "are taught"(tm) about doing man.

I suppose I'm including this as part of sexuality because the entire reason I met up with these men for a sexual encounter. So I guess I'm lumping in the whole thing, from initial contact online to setting up logistics of meeting to actually seeing each other in person to the sex itself to the aftermath of the encounter.

You have a point that any of this doesn't have to be exclusive to male sexuality. Seems like there must be overlap between different flavors of sexuality.

As for what is included in what's "taught" about "doing man", well, I can't speak as much to that as I am not a man and wasn't taught any of it. I'm just relating my observations from the outside in my personal encounters with male sexuality.
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Post by Dan_Brodribb on Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:02 pm

Reading these responses, I wonder if our sexuality is more a story we write based on on the culture we're exposed to, what our body/brain responds to, and our experiences.

If that's the case, it feels like we have co-writers like culture, family, or partners.

So we might get messages from society telling us what is acceptable for us to want.

Or on a more positive note, my partners have shaped me in that often in giving them more of what they saw as the sexiest parts of me, I became 'more' of that thing, even if it wasn't something I saw in myself or believe I had.

I wonder if one thread common to inexperienced men feeling attacked, women feeling objectified, or alternative sexualities being pushed to the margins or deemed unacceptable is the feeling that your sexual story is being written FOR you and your input is neither required, nor wanted.


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Post by Conreezy on Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:05 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:
Caffeinated wrote:
Hmm, that's part of it. Hard to really explain. I almost left it as just 'generosity', but that runs the risk of being interpreted as financial, which isn't what I mean. It's more... kind of the desire to make things nice for both of us? And also... kindness. And also... that look on a person's face when you first show up and they're really happy to see you. I don't know, some mix of all that.

This is interesting, because to me none of those things are part of sexuality, and if they were I still wouldn't associate them with male sexuality. Reminds me of the other thread about doing woman, I suppose. None of the things you're talking about are included in what we "are taught"(tm) about doing man.

I would say those things are very much a part of a mature sexuality of any gender. At least, that's the message I got growing up.

But I would agree that those things probably aren't associated with the "male" part of male sexuality because discussing qualities that are more present in masculine sexuality than other types almost always is a negative conversation.

Except for the part about "making things nice for both of us." That has always felt more like my "job" as a guy. That goes for anything romantic, but in sex especially I've felt that it's on me to nudge things in that direction, ensure the circumstances are correct and safe, and make sure my prowess is good enough to keep things exciting through the act. Even after being with partners who were bad in bed, I couldn't shake the feeling that it was my fault things went poorly and that I was going to be thought less of because of it.

Reminds me of a Jim Jefferies bit, now that I think about it.

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Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:47 pm

Huh. Desire for mutual happiness above personal pleasure; kindness and special considerations; joy as response to being in another's company... that all just sounds like love to me, and utterly orthogonal to sexuality, male or otherwise.
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Post by Guest on Wed Feb 11, 2015 9:35 pm

I've thought about this for a bit.

Overall, male sexuality has always been sold to me as a negative. A kind foul, pervasive force that invades men's minds and makes them do harm to others around them. It's everywhere and the way it's often expressed is not so good.

Women give and men take, take, take. Men are aggressive to get what they want, and it's all about what you want and very little else. That's what was sold to me.

The problem is, if you're not interested in what they are selling, there isn't really a male sexuality as far as I see it? I mean, there's men who have positive sexual identities, but this isn't what is getting billed as male sexuality. And it's not what is talked about at the pub on a Friday night between mates over a pint.

So, I guess 'male sexuality', as I see it, is what is marketed to us. Some take that red pill and go with it, others take the blue pill and reject it, to use some terms I'm sure we're all pretty familiar with. But simply 'going with it' and 'rejecting it' don't fully described the consequences of the action.

Going with it doesn't mean you're going to turn out to be, worst case, a horrific rapist. Rejecting it doesn't mean you're going to end up a zen-like lover extraordinaire.

I can only speak for the rejection side, but I feel more lost than anything else.

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Post by Conreezy on Wed Feb 11, 2015 10:31 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:Huh. Desire for mutual happiness above personal pleasure; kindness and special considerations; joy as response to being in another's company... that all just sounds like love to me, and utterly orthogonal to sexuality, male or otherwise.

Sure, those could be the underpinnings of expressing love.  They could also just be the tenets of a mutually beneficial sexual experience without any deeper emotion than respect, I think.

A kind foul, pervasive force that invades men's minds and makes them do harm to others around them.

It does seem to seep into every situation, doesn't it?  I was laughing at myself for checking out a woman at my gym, which is generally the one place I turn my head off to absolutely everything.  I got to wondering if the pervasiveness of sexual thoughts in men comes from the push to be the aggressor?  (Well, it probably comes from old fashioned biochemistry, but is it made worse by our position as initiator?)  Since it's not very likely we're going to be pursued, we develop a hyper-vigilant attitude towards our next potential sexual fix?

I'm afraid I'm not too sure of what you were getting at with your Matrix metaphor, MapWater.

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Post by Guest on Wed Feb 11, 2015 11:15 pm

Conreezy wrote:
A kind foul, pervasive force that invades men's minds and makes them do harm to others around them.

It does seem to seep into every situation, doesn't it?  I was laughing at myself for checking out a woman at my gym, which is generally the one place I turn my head off to absolutely everything.  I got to wondering if the pervasiveness of sexual thoughts in men comes from the push to be the aggressor?  (Well, it probably comes from old fashioned biochemistry, but is it made worse by our position as initiator?)  Since it's not very likely we're going to be pursued, we develop a hyper-vigilant attitude towards our next potential sexual fix?

I'd say it could part of it for sure. I think a strange part of male sexuality is that you aren't desired, you will not be pursued, so you must make yourself desired. Obviously, that's as gross and sad as it sounds. If you couple hyper-vigilance with a lot of self-doubt and you'll notice a small touch or being paid attention to and of course it means nothing: "Women neither pursue, nor would they pursue me! Hah, you have to be a fool to think otherwise!"

I'm still kind of in the position.

Shaking dodgy messages isn't easy.

Conreezy wrote:I'm afraid I'm not too sure of what you were getting at with your Matrix metaphor, MapWater.

Urgh, it sounded better in my head than what I actually wrote.

Basically, taking the red pill (conscious or not) is conforming to male sexuality as it's sold to us. Be aggressive, be a 'man', be the one in power etc. Taking the blue pill (again, conscious or not) is non-conformance with male sexuality as it's sold to us. Maybe you're not aggressive, maybe you're uncomfortable with physical touch which leaves sex with many partners quite difficult etc.

...Maybe forget this, I've confused myself. Laughing

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Post by reboundstudent on Thu Feb 12, 2015 12:46 am

Conreezy wrote:
It does seem to seep into every situation, doesn't it?  I was laughing at myself for checking out a woman at my gym, which is generally the one place I turn my head off to absolutely everything.  I got to wondering if the pervasiveness of sexual thoughts in men comes from the push to be the aggressor?  (Well, it probably comes from old fashioned biochemistry, but is it made worse by our position as initiator?)  Since it's not very likely we're going to be pursued, we develop a hyper-vigilant attitude towards our next potential sexual fix?

I don't have much to say about male sexuality, but wanted to jump in on this part. I've always felt a big pressure to be the aggressor, despite being a woman. Since I have long been considered "unconventional" looking, the biggest advice I've gotten (aside from "lose weight/get prettier") is to be the pursuer. I can say with absolute confidence that should I ever be single, aggressively pursuing someone is the only way I'll ever get into a relationship.

But I still don't seem to have the pervasiveness of sexual thoughts that are reported. I mean it's a difficult thing to measure; I always assumed I had quite a lot of sexual thoughts until I wandered onto AdultFanFiction and saw how much erotica some of those female authors were pumping out. Still, being pursued/being the pursuer hasn't really seemed to change much of my brain chemistry (I envisioned myself being pursued as a teenager; if anything, my sexual thoughts get more of a lift when I envision the ego stroke that is being pursued.)
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Post by The Wisp on Thu Feb 12, 2015 2:24 am

Okay, I have some things to say about this.

So, first, I want to note that everything I'm saying comes from the perspective of a white cis-het late-millennial who has always lived in a very liberal part of the country. I'm not sure how generalizable it is, though it seems at least a few guys on here have similar feelings and experiences. Mapwater said some things that I think are right, so I may reiterate some of them.

I would define men's sexuality as the thoughts, emotions, social messages, and self-perception of the sexual side of men.

I think there are two predominant narratives about men's sexuality in the culture. The first one goes something like this: men's sexuality is dangerous, exploitative, and is at default undesirable, ugly, gross, simple, and shallow. Therefore, men who have sex with women outside of committed relationships are exploiting women and taking, only taking. He's providing little of value. Therefore, if you are an ethical man you will dissociate from and control your sexuality, and save it for a committed relationship. Note, that a lot of liberal people absolutely buy into this narrative, they just use different (and at times, also misappropriated) language that is often borrowed from feminists and lefty sociologists.

The second is this: men's sexuality is only valuable if the man who has it has proven himself worthy. Again, like the first narrative, men's sexuality is at default undesirable, ugly, gross, simple, and shallow. This time, though, instead of controlling it you must earn it. You must be high status, or unusually socially skilled, or wealthy, of famous, or athletic, or accomplished. It turns sexuality into a competition, where you have to be one of the winners to be able to enjoy your sexuality without shame. Note that this also buys into the notion that all men's sexuality does is take. You must be worthy in some other way to be "deserving" of doing the "taking". This is toxic, and I was repelled by it at an early age, as I'm sure lots of lonely sensitive nerdboys are. Some buy into it as a validation of their low self-esteem.

What's missing? Any talk of how men's sexuality can be inherently pleasurable, validating, beautiful, and hot even when you're single. There's not talk of how men's sexuality is important and good. There's no talk of how men's sexuality can make women happy and be giving in a mutual way. There are no role models or narratives about (straight) men being the object of attraction (save celebrities), or the more passive partner, or the one who receives. There is little to no guidance on how to ask for what you want sexually, to have sexual boundaries, to advocate for your pleasure, that aren't toxic and pressuring, especially if you aren't a monogamous married middle-aged man.

There's little to no affirmation of the value of male sexuality that doesn't involve toxic aspects of one of the first two narratives I sketched out above.

There's also a growing movement of people pseudoscientifically advancing ideas about porn and masturbation addiction among young men (ad yet they don't even consider that young women, not one, could have that problem  Side-eye) and many young  men are buying it. So apparently men's sexuality hurts men, too innocent

I think this is why some men feel triggered when they read feminist discussions of rape culture, or men pressuring women, or men being selfish in bed (which are totally legitimate and shouldn't stop). It's like, there are already all these negative messages, and now my sexuality (it feels like) is guilty by association of all these bad things, too.

I may have more thoughts on this, but I'm tired, that's all I've got.

P.S.: Caffeinated, those stories you told are lovely and make me feel happy and happy for you! Thanks for sharing! I wish I heard more anecdotes like that growing up.
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Post by reboot on Thu Feb 12, 2015 2:43 am

This is weird. I cannot think of anything that is specifically male or female sexuality. All I can come up with is healthy/unhealthy because I see the same good and bad behaviors in both men and women. I cannot picture "female" or "male" sexuality.

I wonder if it is because I have spent so much time in Muslim culture where the sexual aggressors are women (e.g. rampant and uncontrolled, seducers, animalistic, promiscuous) that it is all muddled up for me
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