Yesterday I did a take down of the myth of the sexually aggressive male using science. Now I want to share some stories as further proof that we’re buying into a harmful lie.
In my teen years I regarded romance as something created by men to convince women to have sex with them. My very few unsatisfying sexual experiences combined with a rabidly sex-negative culture reinforced my viewpoint that sex was solely a man’s prerogative.
Then I grew up. I cast off my body shame. I discovered masturbation. I had sexual encounters that left me wild-eyed and breathless instead of shamed and unhappy. Every orgasm incited the desire to have another. A world of pleasurable possibilities opened before me. Never before had I felt my capacity for sexual sensation with such clarity.
At the dawn of this new sexual self I saw nothing but potential and was eager to make up for lost time. But I encountered an unanticipated problem with my male partners: their sex drives.
I couldn’t fathom why a guy would stay at a party when he could be having sex. I couldn’t understand how a guy would want to finish watching a movie when he could be sweaty and naked. The phrase “not right now” was incomprehensible coming from a male mouth. I mean, weren’t all men shameless horndogs who were only after one thing?
In the absence of evidence to refute that myth I felt angry, undesired or resentful when I was turned down. I retaliated by challenging their masculinity or engaging in some serious shit-talking with female friends. More than one snarky conversation about undersexed men has conspired between my friends over drinks.
And I’m not alone in this. A close female friend of mine once cried at a Girls’ Night In because her boyfriend had spurned her sexual advances. “I don’t understand!,” she moaned to us, “It just makes me feel fat and unattractive and horrible. Why doesn’t he want me?” Another friend simply went behind her boyfriend’s back instead of trying to talk things over. Her defense? “I have needs.”
The insidious flipside to the lie about aggressive male sexuality is the assumption that women are incapable of sexual aggression. (Personal note: I have experienced more aggressive sexual predation at lesbian club nights than at mixed or hetero clubs. A woman once shoved her thigh between my legs and began rubbing my vulva with it before she even told me her name. Not cool.)
The only sexual aggression I see from men is culturally encouraged not biologically inherent. We raise them on this idea that a defining character of their masculinity is uncontrollable sexual behavior and that man points can be had with every (female) orifice their penis enters. This so-called natural “struggle between the sexes” is born from our social mythology of sexuality.
Now some of you reading this may think: “Hey! I’m a guy and my sex drive is overwhelming!”
Welcome to the club, buddy. High sex drives are an equal opportunity maddener. Your genitals and chromosomes do not determine your horniness.