Where did afternoon delight go?

Moonrise-loversSometime when I wasn’t looking, that comical battle between the sexes featured in classical comedies of the 1950s became serious business. By the 21st Century, it seems to have become mortal combat.

I was alerted via Facebook to an article entitled “The Ugly Side Of Being A Single, Attractive And Available Heterosexual Woman.” It was tagged with this comment. “As a therapist I hear this sort of thing way too often, when are these immature guys going to grow up and stop being dicks!”

I was not sure if the therapist herself was calling men dicks or reporting what clients said. Nevertheless, my heart breaks and my stomach sinks when I read stories about how some men sexually abuse women. As a man I am ashamed that my universal brothers would treat women this way. Not only is it mental and physical cruelty against women, but it then incites mass rage in women who think that all men are created equally repugnant.

As women become more accustomed to hearing and sharing abuse stories, including anything in the media, the potential for sexual beauty degrades for everyone. Women trust men less. They play defense more. They become less open. None of this is good news for loving men who desire to co-create healthy sexual relationships with someone they find magical.

Upon reading stories written by women trashing men for inappropriate behavior, many men do what much of mass culture shows them to do: they trash women back. They counter “men are dicks and assholes” with “yeah, but women are bitches.” And so it goes, punch and counter-punch, charge and counter-charge.

When women spew vitriol at men for their disgusting sexual behavior, justifiably or not, a big piece often goes missing from the discussion: the societal forces at work.

HOW SOCIETY CREATES DICKS

It’s not as if men aspire to be dicks (unless the pay is really good.) It’s that they are like Play Doh shaped into dicks through conformity to socially approved and promoted insanity. Missing from this narrative about men being dicks is how certain social norms and obstacles churn out monsters. Here are some examples:

Words. One indication of social insanity festers in the language we use. Why is it that the slang words we concoct to describe sexual organs (i.e., dick) and other intimacies (i.e., fuck) get turned into words used for insulting people? If you think sex is awesome, this practice  is like saying “Bliss you” as a drop-dead insult. Our whole vocabulary is perverted.

Sex education deserves to be more than the biology of reproduction and health. It should also be about what a loving sexual relationship could look like. Where in this world do people find positive sex ed, especially if parents or family have little to contribute to the discussion? Men are clueless about how to be good lovers unless they are taught, and secular and religious pressures keep people stuck in the dark.

Competition. Ever watch nature shows where animals maul each other for the right to mate? Seems insane in human terms, but we have our own version of mate competition. Manhood often gets defined as one’s success with women. DNA may provide a biological imperative to spread semen to insure survival of the species, but It’s no excuse for bad behavior. Loop back to missing sex education.

Intimacy. In mainstream society, men learn very little about intimacy. Dudes with dongs are often taught in a competitive world that intimacy is a serious weakness. Stand tough. Don’t wimp out. For God’s sake, don’t cry. Don’t even feel. When men are trained this way, having empathy for their lover is usually not on the menu.

Recreation. Sex is often depicted and perceived to be recreation, even among spouses. Often ignored is the deep mental, emotional, and spiritual bonding that can happen during physical lovemaking. Men often learn that sex is sport, a conquest game with women as prey.

Porn. The porn culture rarely shows friendly, loving, even happy sex. Porn sex is more often gloomy, mechanical, often mean. It is short-sighted and obsessed with the physical. Still, for many people, porn is the gold standard of what sex is supposed to look and be like, largely because there are so few sex-positive visions to compare it with. Porn often sucks the intelligence out of sex, and this is how many men get educated.

Mainstream movies. Little in mainstream movies, TV shows, even novels offers great role models for men and women as lovers/mates. Much more common are stories about dysfunctional people reaping physical and psychological harm on one another. Without healthy examples to emulate, we get what we are getting.

Gender war. In today’s media culture, you can hardly escape the rage and hostility of gender combat—it’s a war zone out there. This sniping and strafing often occurs without presenting solutions or balance. “When will guys stop being such dicks” gives no kudos to men who respect and honor women. Many men are not prepared to handle this hostility. We need strong voices talking about how to bring the genders together in harmony.

Healthy Sexual Outlets. Most society offers little help or compassion for people who feel unloved. Religions and secular institutions including the law do not consider sexual loneliness as a social problem. Lonely people often become targets of merchandising ploys. We further teach men (and women) how to be vengeful, cruel, self-loathing, and to perceive their loneliness as failure. Without healthy sexual outlets, rage festers, and a rape culture flourishes.

Penis pride. Despite porn, sometimes due to porn, men in our culture are given little reason to feel pride of ownership of their penises. With no sense of beauty or wonder, many men see their sexuality as a repulsive liability. When men feel that their penises are ugly, sex for them often feels like stealing, not giving. Loop back to words.

Spirituality. Many people don’t see spirituality in sexuality or sexuality in spirituality. The two are treated as polar opposites. With no spiritual significance, sexuality is more likely a habit, game, or procreative function, perhaps meaningful and pleasurable, but likely more body focused. Spirituality, meanwhile, is often viewed as anti-flesh, anti-pleasure.

These and other social forces turn many men into unfortunate choices for sex partners. I believe it is more complicated than “when are these immature guys going to grow up and stop being dicks?” We need some social evolution, perhaps even revolution, to turn this situation around.

WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT?

Huge societal forces keep us miserable, and solutions aren’t lightning fast. However, here are some that I would like to see take root in our culture.

Sex-positive media. There’s an opportunity to educate people through sex-positive media of all kinds. Whether it’s mainstream, educational, or even re-invented porn, the more content out there that shows positive alternatives to degrading behavior, the more it motivates positive behavior. People often learn by imitation, and the more we offer great examples, the more it is likely to take hold. Much real-life sexual behavior people complain about is exactly what is shown in too much of our mainstream entertainment as normal. So there.

Positive Role Models. Mass media could supply the world with male and female role models to demonstrate healthy and blissful sexual relationships. Role models could show the importance of integrity, friendship, sensitivity, empathy, sensuality, and so on. In the realm of the sexually explicit, wouldn’t it be liberating if characters in porn were so fascinating as people and not just as sex robots that you would want to spend time with them?

Communicate! We live with the myth that great sex happens naturally, spontaneously, passionately, just like in the movies. However, so many disasters occur when communication about sex is missing, deceptive, or toxic. While some may think it’s dorky to talk about sex before doing it, the truth is that it improves sex lives, especially if you are serious about being a good partner for longer than one night.

Religion often forces people to choose between sex and God as if you can’t have both. Seems unlikely now, but perhaps one fine day religion will awaken to embrace sexuality. In turn, this might bring respect to sexuality and eliminate characterizing it as evil. People who respect sexuality behave differently from those who degrade or pornify it, including how they treat their partners.

Focus. People who make a deliberate attempt to learn about something eventually find it. Media consumers need to be more vigilant about what they consume as mind food. Those who deliberately seek out positive expressions of sex are likely to find it. Similarly, those who seek out healthy choices in partners of like-minded consciousness will eventually find them.

Tribal consciousness. Western civilization does not embrace a tribal consciousness around a war on loneliness. We seem very insensitive to lonely people. How about creating ways people could feel more included? Until we start to feel the magnificent power of people united in love and inclusion, we will never know the force it can yield! Let the tribe unite and let’s stamp out loneliness and “immature dick” behavior.

Love Revolution. We’re so often taught that it is normal to judge, criticize, and insult people. What about looking for the good in people? What about trying to find harmony and accord? A society like that would look more like Shangri-la. Darkness and evil dwell more profoundly in places where love is rationed and sold, and where conflict is encouraged. More evil flourishes in war zones than in love fests.

FIFTY SHADES OF YUCK

In the article that prompted this post, the female author asked: “Being a single woman who enjoys sex means I have to constantly be defending my body and my morals, because if left to their own devices men will revert to treating me as nothing more than a collection of holes for their own use?”

Statements like this make me heartsick. If I take it personally, I feel totally shamed as as someone born with male sexuality, even if her description is far from who I am as a man. Then I feel sorry for the anonymous author whose experiences are so painful she feels compelled to vent with such intensity.

Stating the obvious, but healing is needed.

If you would like to read more positive material about sexual beauty, click here.