Male Sexuality

June 15th, 2009 by Pelle Billing

I recently came across an article about male sexuality that I found very interesting, and since I’ve been meaning to expound my thoughts on that topic anyhow, it gave me the nudge I needed. The article is called The Uncelebrated Beauty of Male Sexuality, and the name itself indicates that it’s an unusual theme for an article.

The article adds nuances to male sexuality that are badly needed:

Therefore, the more disgusting a pornographic visual is, the more a “real man” should not show disgust. But, privately, do most men really think they are “like that,” or do they experience their sexuality as more subtle, more diverse, possibly more erotic and even spiritual?

Another important misunderstanding about male sexuality is that the male sex drive is independent of the rest of the man, but this too is addressed:

In truth, the penis is a delicate part of the male being, responding with exquisite sensitivity to every nuance of emotion a man can feel. Erections come and go in men, during sex and during sleep. Most men say they seek desire, not the mechanical means of orgasm or creating erection.

So far so good. However, there is one statement in the article that I disagree with:

Although pornography frequently denigrates women — showing women beaten, black and blue, and liking it

Really? I’ve never seen any porn like that. Most porn, to the best of my knowledge, just shows two people having sex in different positions.

But the author then continues with a vital observation:

Pornography’s implication that men are beasts whose underlying unchangeable natures make them likely to be violent to women is misleading and dangerous.

Again, I’m not sure that most pornography portrays men as violent towards women, but there certainly is a tendency nowadays to regard male sexuality as dangerous. Before reading this article, I don’t remember ever seeing an article celebrating male sexuality.

Instead, male sexuality in the media is one story after another about rape, child molestation, sexual harrassment, and so on. These things certainly exist, but they are not an expression of normal male sexuality – they’re an expression of a man who’s mentally ill and/or who hasn’t been taught normal impulse control.

At this point in time I believe we need to emphasize two different aspects of male sexuality:

  1. Male sexuality is more nuanced, emotional and even spiritual than pornography or society’s stereotypes of men would have us believe. Men can enjoy their sexuality and sensuality in many different ways, not only through mechanical intercourse.
  2. Many (straight) men, do have a strong drive to penetrate, which is perfectly OK (and it’s only to be expected, given the survival benefits that this drive has had). Having a raw, animal side to your sexuality does not make you a rapist or a dangerous individual. However, this drive to penetrate is not separate from the rest of the man – it is connected to his emotions, his mind and his soul. Pornography is but a poor caricature of the male drive to penetrate, devoid of any emotions, passion or meaning.

In my opinion, we need positive images of male sexuality, as an alternative to pornography and the media’s representation of men. Any ideas how to create these kinds of alternatives? Or is there already something out there?

(Just to clarify: my criticism against porn has nothing to do with nudity or sex or men’s animal side; what I don’t like are the barren soulless depictions of male sexuality.)

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15 Responses to “Male Sexuality”

  1. Danny Says:

    Again, I’m not sure that most pornography portrays men as violent towards women, but there certainly is a tendency nowadays to regard male sexuality as dangerous.
    Most porn does not feature such violence. The problem is that people want to demonize male sexuality therefore instead of a following the proof to a theory they create the theory and twist/create the proof that leads to it. Meaning that instead of actually observing porn then concluding if it is violent towards women they first conclude that it is violent towards women then try to find/create “proof” to back that conclusion. And furthermore anyone that actually surfs porn sites knows that most of them do not allow that kind of content and in order to find it you have to go off the beaten path and nearly cross the border into illegal content (children, animals, actual torture not the consensual bondage/S&M stuff). But since actually learning these things would weaken their argument they just lump all porn together in order to attack it and its biggest audience (straight men).

    Male sexuality is more nuanced, emotional and even spiritual than pornography or society’s stereotypes of men would have us believe. Men can enjoy their sexuality and sensuality in many different ways, not only through mechanical intercourse.
    True. A lot of people that attack male sexuality through porn like to puport that male sexuality is always and only about the quick get off. Yes there are times when that is the case but its not always (BTW have you ever noticed that a woman wanting to get to the quick finish and only care about herself is never portrayed as a bad thing but when a man do it its the ultimate no no?)

    Many (straight) men, do have a strong drive to penetrate, which is perfectly OK (and it’s only to be expected, given the survival benefits that this drive has had).
    While the biological nessecity (procreation of course) to penetrate in straight men makes the existence of gay men shows that there is more than biological imperative involved because obviously 2 gay men cannot create a child (or at least that procreation is not the only biological imperative at work in a man’s desire to penetrate).

  2. Pelle Billing Says:

    Good points Danny. Using facts to build a theory, instead of making the facts fit the theory at any cost, is the major change we need in the gender discourse.

    Concerning gay men, it is quite possible that they inherit the drive to penetrate the same way straight men do, even though it’s not a biological imperative if you are gay. Which is similar to the observation that all of us inherit various biological drives – be they gender specific or not – regardless of whether they are of any use to us nowadays. If a certain biological drive was useful to humans for 200,000 years, it’s not going to go away simply because we haven’t been needing for a couple of decades or centuries.

  3. Jane McGillivray Says:

    Shere Hite is, of course, one of the most prominent feminist writers of recent times.

    It is beautiful how she talks about the integrated sensitivity of a man’s erection, and sees beyond the steriotypical image that porn has nurtured to the whole person…….

    I will be interested in your writings on this too Pelle. A lot of women will be.

    Jane

  4. Pelle Billing Says:

    Thanks for your comment Jane.

    I will be interested in your writings on this too Pelle. A lot of women will be.
    Well, this blog post is my first comment on these matters, and I may write more about on this topic in the future.

  5. Eivind Says:

    This is a topic that interests me greatly, Pelle. I thought the article mentioned was okay, but still lacking in nuance and understanding. If the author is a feminist, however, I applaud her efforts.

    The challenge here is to realize that there IS a base form of sex, which is basically masturbation with a partner. It’s all about your own pleasure. Then there is a more sensitive version – caring, soft, and oh so nice, which we’ve had around for quite a while, and now it’s pretty boring. Now, we need to reclaim some of the primal energy we left behind and dare to penetrate and surrender with passion yet again. I suspect that all of this sex advice in the media make people so heady and anxious that most of the fun and natural pleasure goes away.

    We must – men as well as women – learn to trust our bodies’ natural responses yet again.

    Male sexuality – interesting topic and VERY enjoyable to research.

    I’m going to be addressing this more on Masculinity Movies in the time to come too.

    Good that you bring it up, Pelle.

    Eivind

  6. Jim Says:

    “The challenge here is to realize that there IS a base form of sex, which is basically masturbation with a partner. It’s all about your own pleasure. Then …….”

    Xaviera Hollander, the “Happy Hooker” back in the 70′s, or maybe it was someone else back then, said that all really good sex was a little selfish, and the reason is obvious – what is more flattering than that someone just ravenously desires you, without any distracting “sensitive” thought of you in any other way? When it comes right down to it, the emotional side of sex is a hunger for attention, and that single-minded desire is the purest form of attention.

    Obviously there is a lot more to a relationship, but we are focusing on the sexual part for now.

    You reach a point in any aspect of love where it becomes circular and pointless to try to distinguish selfish from unselfish motives. You learn this very quickly when you are raising a child for instance – every sacrifice you make for your child’s happiness and well-being is a sacrifice you make to yourself.

  7. Pelle Billing Says:

    Eivind,

    I agree that we need to reclaim the primal sexual energy that has become politically incorrect for men. However, I believe that many men in postmodern societies have found themselves in a bit of a double bind: they’ve learnt that primal male sexuality is bad, but at the same time they (we ) intuit that women want men to take the lead. So I think that it’s quite possible that we need to reclaim both kinds of energy; the primal one and the one where we dare to relax and let go.

    Jim,

    You reach a point in any aspect of love where it becomes circular and pointless to try to distinguish selfish from unselfish motives.

    I agree.

  8. Jane McGillivray Says:

    Here is a really interesting blog on Integral Life doing the circuit right now.
    I am interested in what you all think!
    http://integrallife.com/member/rebecca-bailin/blog/tetra-hot-integral-hermeneutics-adam-lambert

    Adam seems to embody something remarkable, and something very fearless, and playful and on the edge……and many women can sense this…. It is a bit different that “wanting men to take the lead”, it is different than the ususal masc/fem polarity that Deida et al. write about…..

    Jane

  9. Eivind F S Says:

    You reach a point in any aspect of love where it becomes circular and pointless to try to distinguish selfish from unselfish motives.

    This is an interesting comment which has made me think, and I realize it’s premature for me to agree with it. Could you please go a little deeper with your perspective on this? Only within the context of intimacy please, child rearing only muddles the picture for me.

    Thanks, Jim.

    Eivind

  10. Jim Says:

    Eivind, when you say intimacy, you must mean sexual initimacy. Childrearing involves the deepest emotional intimacy there is. It is like combat bonding. It is really rare in romantic relationships, but even there it does happen.

    Back to the main question about the circularity of love and the collapse of the distinction between selfishness and unselfishness. One way of looking at it is from the angle of self-interest. We all know what it means to pursue one’s own self-interest. Well then – what happens when you identify your self-interest so thoroughly with another person’s that there no longer is any distinction between the two? What has happened to the distinction between selfishness and unselfishness?

    Or look at it from another angle. When you fall in love, your ego boundaries collapse. That is the psychological description of that process. Now falling in love happens outside of romantic settings just as much as in them – you fall in love with your child during the pregnancy, fathers as much as mothers if they are present during the pregnancy. Combat bondng – when you face death at any moment day after day after day with someone, when you rely for the protection that enables you to live into that next day on someone, and he on you, the bond that develops is as strong as any romantic love, sometimes so troublingly so for many that they become violently homophobic in response – your ego boundaries fall and the distinction between ego and non-ego vanish. When there is no distinction between ego and non-ego, how can there be any distinction between selfishness and unselfishness?

  11. Hayden Winters Says:

    I am having some trouble getting to load your site. I read it many times before and never got anything like this, but now when I try 2 load the blog it just idles for a minute or two and then just stops. I have tried both with www & without. Does anyone know what is the reason? Please ask your host support… I hope to be able to come back soon.

  12. Mark Davenport Says:

    I haven’t had any trouble with the site. It may not be the site’s fault. :-(

  13. Pelle Billing Says:

    Hayden,
    The site loads very rapidly for me. Have you tried accessing it from a different computer?

  14. Danny Says:

    Or perhaps you browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc…)?

  15. Kyler Thach Says:

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