“Brutish” Male Sexuality: Part 2

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.

21 thoughts on ““Brutish” Male Sexuality: Part 2”

  1. I completely agree with the thoughts and feelings related to being turned down when initiating sexual activity with your partner. Men frequently state as a disclaimer the vastness of their sexual needs leading women, with highly active sex drives, to not hold back. Of course this leads to rejections some of the time. That doesn’t stop our brain from assuming something is wrong with us since you are “supposedly” in need of sexual activity frequently. I, too, never thought I’d hear a man say “not right now.” Initiating and having that initiation accepted can feel as good as compliments like “you are so beautiful” or ” your body is sexy and I can’t keep my hands off it.” *Sigh* Trying to reprogram yourself NOT to think a rejection is not as a result of something being wrong with you is a difficult feat to master.

    1. Whenever I would be approached for sex by my otherwise passive wife, it has always been a sign that she’s feeling bored or neglected while I’m focused on something of interest to me and she resents it. The situation is a control struggle – “I’m not the center of your attention so I will attempt to regain that status no matter what you want.” I found that going along with her plan always resulted in a quieter home life no matter how resentful I became. Yet if I would approach her for sex when she feels like this, I’m more likely to get “I don’t feel good” or “I’m tired.” I got tired of this game and stopped playing. Now, unless my wife lets me know in no uncertain terms that she’s even interested, I don’t bother initiating an approach. The amount of time it takes to achieve the desired result isn’t worth the effort I have to put into it.

      1. *Sigh* That sounds incredibly ridiculous. My only suggestion is to have a serious conversation with your wife over the matter. If you are both trying to manipulate the situation to get what you want without discussing with your partner, then you will inevitably fail to achieve anything. Most likely she thinks you are only interested when it is convenient for you. This will cause her to deny any attempts you make because she wants to regain control of when the sex happens. I really despise this silly game that tends to occur in most relationships. Going back to my initial statement. Sit down and discuss it as adults. Define what your wants and needs are and patiently listen while she states hers in return. Meet somewhere in the middle. Otherwise, both of you will probably end up feeling resentful and unsatisfied. :/

  2. My personal concerns, with the perceptions of male sexuality being out of control or hardwired to promiscuity, rear their ugly heads when taken in conjunction with my own insecurity. When those two clouds of thought meet, my whole world just blows up. Culture and glossy-magazine “science” tells us all the things you covered in the first post and keep people like me from being as sexually confident as they could be. Logically, I tell myself that we all have biological aspects that play into our sexuality, but there are many other parts to someone’s monogamy or tendency to wander – we’re not our biology. But in those dark moments when I feel my least sexually secure, the nasty “facts” of men being programmed to sow wild oats batter me into submission.

    Talking out this kind of mental dissonance is super important for everyone. The more we can understand and appreciate that we’re not slaves to hormones or biology, that we have brains and hearts that work together with the physiological bits, the more sexually unfettered and fearless we can be.

  3. I am a male and I would say for sure I wouldn’t have the typical male sex drive. I think there are several possible reasons. One may be that humans are animals and our most primal instinct is to procreate with multiple partners to propagate the species and the same person over and over isn’t as exciting. That said, its obviously not impossible for us to have one mate and be happy.

    Also, from my experience, it seems a woman’s orgasm and her sexual experience is very rich each time she has sex, while a male’s orgasm is just kind of quick and simple most of the time. While it feels good, its not exactly exciting in comparison, and it is usually the same experience most of the time. Which may explain why men try to explore with different types of sex.

    Additionally, i think that once you have someone sexually available to you at any time, you begin to take advantage of the fact that they there all the time, and you may pass up some opportunities because you’re not worried there wont be another one later.

  4. Out of curiosity, sexademic, why do you think then there is a big gap between porn and prostitution consumed by men, and porn and prostitution consumed by women?

    It has often been noted that women can live from selling sex to willing males, whereas the opposite — men selling sex (not ‘romance’, as gigolos do, but sex; and even then, gigolos aren’t as plentiful as prostitues) almost never works. Do you think this is simply social conditioning, or could there be something else at play here?

  5. Very interesting articles, thanks for the references. Still I wonder: could it be that the ‘sex drive gap’ between men and women is purely socially determined? How about hormonal differences, plus claims by evolutionary psychologists for different long-range evolutionary motivatons for differences in sexual behavior? Also, if people do vary individually — it seems obvious that some individuals want sex more strongly than others, just like some people’s appetite for food is stronger than others — isn’t it at least plausible that certain groups of people (e.g., men and women) might vary statistically, i.e. form two non-coinciding but still different bell-shaped curves?

    I’ve recently had an online discussion with The Honest Courtesan, a retired escort with many very beautifully written and thought-provoking essays on a variety of themes, among which differences between males and females. She argues that, for her, the thought of paying for sex would be like, for a straight man, the thought of kissing another guy: weird, purpose-defeating, almost a little creepy. (Our discussion is here, if you’re interested.) I have indeed met other women who thought and said simmilar things. Would you really say that this is the result of ‘social conditioning’? Isn’t there possibly at least one element of real sexual nature in such differences? Could it be that ‘most’ or ‘the average’ woman simply has fewer or weaker sexual needs than ‘most’ or ‘the average’ man?

    Of course, I’m not denying the effect of cultural factors–they are obviously very relevant. I’m just wondering if, in your experience and in your readings, you didn’t come upon convincing evidence of something other than nurture playing an important role in this story.

    1. Without getting into the details of the discussion, how she feels about paying for it is exactly how I feel, and I’m a dude.

  6. Every woman I’ve ever been with for any period of time beyond six months has ended up with a greater appetite for sex between us than me. However, it is the ‘between us’ bit that is important there. Men have a huge appetite for different sex and not such a huge one for what might be called mañana sex. The actual sex act for a man is simply not as good as it is for a woman. Men, though, derive enormous satisfaction from the hunt and the consummation of the hunt; after that their interest levels dip alarmingly.

    A social historical reflection of this is demonstrated in the fact that it used to be considered a husbands duty to have sex with his wife, even if he didn’t feel like it. Hence the far higher rates of sexual intercourse between married couples in the Fifties than in the Noughties.

  7. While men certainly have a high drive for sex, I agree that they are no the sole motivator behind how we currently perceive sex.

    I, for one, see that any male aggression in the US population will be well ironed out in the next generation. From what I can tell, men and women alike are growing up under the understanding that the male sex drive is a baser animal instinct and that it is a negative trait. This whole idea of men being the primary driving sexual force of our species will be taken care of shortly if we continue down our current path.

  8. I’d like to suggest that one of the reasons behind the perception of endless male sex drive is that I would guess that almost all men start masturbating as teenagers (that’s the stereotype they see on the TV, after all), while girls are really left in the dark about what masturbation is, how to do it, or that it is even possible or normal for them to do it until they are older (sometimes, much older). You’d be hard-pressed to find a twenty-something man who has never masturbated, but it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to find a woman who hasn’t. What this leads to is that men are generally more comfortably about sex at a younger age than women are. It has nothing to do with different levels of sex drive, but it is misconstrued as such.

    Also, there is the idea that men “need to release” every so often or else they’ll explode in a mushroom cloud of sexual rage, whereas women have no such pressure build-up. This notion is backed up by fallacious biological explanations about sperm build-up, blah blah blah (I’m not saying it’s not true; just that people use a “well, it makes SENSE” approach to justifying it without knowing anything about biology). I would like to state for the record that women experience a similar thing as that I have just described, but can’t justify it because of the mainstream and incorrect assumptions about sexual biology. Unfortunately, women aren’t taught that having an orgasm is a basic part of an ordinary life.

    1. Indeed, but note that men are not taught how to masturbate. It’s sort of easier for them (it quite literally hangs out in the open), but still it is interesting that most men seem interested enough in it to find out by themselves how to masturbate and derive pleasure from it. With women, many seem to be apparently not sufficiently motivated to keep trying till it works. Social stereotypes and conditioning plays a role, no doubt, but I wonder if there are some natural differences in the sex drive itself that also contribute to making it more likely that men will start masturbating than women.

      1. You’re confusing “biology” with “culture”, here. There’s absolutely no gendered difference in whether or not infants, toddlers, and young children explore themselves, the difference is in the familial social (and later public social) frameworks that suppress it. ALL children explore themselves, and if they are given the framework of social appropriateness rather than shaming and fear, they all continue doing it whether they reach orgasm or not – eventually they will.

        Your post seriously handwaves away the fact that, even in irreligious households, male child masturbation is seen as natural exploration, and female child masturbation is often seen as dirty, perverted, unladylike, and BAD, and that attitude is passed along to the child. Slut-shaming and a culture of hypermasculinity begins before our children are even out of diapers, and we use the resulting obedience to cultural pressure as “evidence” of women’s sexual passivity, and men’s default consent.

        One of the biggest and most damaging illusions we face as a society is the myth that children are asexual, because it permits abusers – and the news, and the community as a whole – to shift blame to the victims of abuse. Children will seek to express their sexuality, and the most important and powerful lesson we can teach them is to direct it APPROPRIATELY and SAFELY, rather than seeing it as evidence of perversion or wrongdoing, or – even worse – as consent and licence to use the child to vent adult sexual desires. All children need to know that sexuality is normal, that they are not “BAD”, and that they are accepted and safe from harm.

        Right now, that’s just not happening. Is it any wonder that girls raised under that kind of pressure might just feel ambivalent about masturbating, once they’re old enough to start exercising what minimal personal agency is available to them?

        1. “Your post seriously handwaves away the fact that, even in irreligious households, male child masturbation is seen as natural exploration, and female child masturbation is often seen as dirty, perverted, unladylike, and BAD, and that attitude is passed along to the child. ”

          What? I really don’t think male masturbation is considered more acceptable then female masturbation.

          More prevalent, yes, more acceptable, no.

  9. I totally disagree with the men saying that men prefer a wider variety/range of sexual acts. That sounds terribly anecdotal to me… and certainly does not line up with what I know of my and some of my friends sex lives.

    Variety is the spice of life for both men and women. It could be that maybe men feel more comfortable expressing this desire while the women are stuck in the bind that “good” girls aren’t supposed to know about or want “non-standard” sex (whatever that’s supposed to mean)? Or that the men who are with women who actually have narrow sexual preferences perpetuate this idea? Or even that because people have this idea in their head that the women don’t care about the variation they don’t even try to discuss it or try it or wonder what she actually thinks of it when they do?

    I suspect it is also a little bit of the confirmation bias occurring. (Similar to the situation where a guy makes a math error and is told “you suck at math” and a girl makes a math error and is told “girls suck at math”….)

    But yes both men and women can have low or extremely high libidos. And both genders have a similar chance of enjoying pretty much any sexual act that the other one does. It’s all about the variation. There hasn’t been a single study (that I am aware of) that can support a difference in the libido of men and women.

  10. The belief that men always want sex and always is ready for sex combined with an increase in social leeway for women to be sexually assertive is a dangerous mix. With more sexual assertivness and initiative comes a large responsibility which too many women are blissfully unaware of. And I don’t really see anyone anywhere informing women of this responsibility.

    I have suffered the consequence of this combination when I was 19. And the consequence was much more serious than a angry, resentful girl with felt undesired and proceeded to snark about me later. I went home with a girl I met at a party. We made out and before we went to bed we agreed that we wouldn’t have sex (both seemed reluctant to have sex at that point, I because I was a virgin and was not sure I wanted to loose it on a ONS, she because she really were interested in/seeing another guy and didn’t want to “cheat” on him). At some point during the night when I was asleep she changed her mind and I woke up with her on top of me and me inside her. When I woke up I played along a while before I faked an orgasm. I felt conflicted about this a number of years afterward before I came to terms with it and recognized it for the rape that it was. She, of course, didn’t know that she did anything wrong and I guess that even to this day she’s unaware of what she did to me rally was. To her I probably didn’t need to consent because it’s always implied (if men always want sex then they’ll never turn it down and hence there is no need to obtain consent) and perhaps she even felt it was confirmed by my erection.

    My experience was in no way unique for me and I’ve heard similar storied from several male friends. Almost all of them frame it as getting lucky – that they were so irresistible that she couldn’t help herself.

    These consequences is much more serious than women feeling unwanted, hurt, angry, and even entitled to sex.

    It follows logically that with increased (social acceptance of) sexual assertivness from women coupled with tropes like men’s implied consent and women’s incapability of committing rape or sexual assault there will be an increase inn female perpetrators of rape and sexual assault against men. I believe this is beginning to surface in some studies which have found suprisingly high rates of men saying they’ve been coerced into penetrative sex. Rates which are comparable to female rates or even higher in some cases.

    This is belied by the near-total one-sided focus on male perpetrators and female victims in public discourse. The near-universal dismissivness of those studies in the femininst dominated gendersphere signals to me a deninal to see the logical consequence of the progress in equality women has made and thus a failure to help minimize this harmful consequence.

  11. Great post. I’m a guy with a high sex drive and I can attest to the fact that it can be a heavy burden at times. In my first years at college it seems like I was always having to hold back the tidal wave of sexual desire, a near super human feat. I eventually broke down, unable to continually resist, and developed a porn habit to deal with the pressure. I ended up masturbating away all that energy to endless porn sites, and when it was time to be with a woman, I had nothing left for her.

    I was fortunate enough to have discovered male chastity devices and to have had some very understanding girlfriends who kept me locked up for my own good. Besides being a terrible turn-on, male chastity has really helped me regain my sexuality as there is no longer an immediate outlet through porn and masturbation. It has worked wonders for my relationships.

  12. Learning why I have no feeling on my penis from losing my frenulum to forced infant genital cutting as an infant has certainly lowered my sex drive.

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