There is a list of things that no man wants to hear. Most of them are simple: no man wants to be called weak or spineless or useless or ugly. For that matter, I doubt any woman does either. And yet, these things tend to slip out, as one statement did a few weeks ago.
It began innocently enough: a simple Italian dinner in the East Village with some current college friends. I was sitting at a table with two of my favorite females catching up on life and our lack of love over pasta and salads. All appeared to be well.
Then the discussion of my [lack of a] sexual life was brought up.
It’s not something I’m afraid to talk about. I have a weird relationship with sex compared to modern mainstream culture—somewhat caused by my lingering conservative Baptist upbringing and somewhat because of personal intimacy fears I have yet to face. It’s not like I don’t have any sort of sex drive; I identify as a straight man, albeit a virgin. It seems that everyone besides me wants to make a big deal of it. I don’t take sex lightly, and I’m not going to just throw away my virginity because “I’m getting too old.” In the meantime, I live a sexless existence. It’s cool—I’ve enrolled in Asexuals Anonymous.
The young women I’m having dinner with (who we’ll call Katy and Jill for the sake of anonymity) are close personal friends of mine. One of them I thought I may actually have an interest in forming a romantic relationship with at one point until I realized how in love she was with another man (who was, of course, another good friend of mine). These ladies have my best interests at heart, truly. We have spent a lot of time in our college’s dining hall or going on late night walks in Boston or seeing loads of theatre. We are, in many ways, intimate, but not romantic. We agree on lots of things. They just happen to think that what’s best for me is a sexually active lifestyle, and this causes moments of disagreement as well as spawning some unique (and enlightening) conversations.
They start down the road we’ve traveled before, discussing love and relationships and sex. Frankly, I have little to contribute. But Katy gets the bright idea to ask: “Wait, Daniel. Have you even seen porn?”
A momentary hush settles over our corner of the restaurant. Jill turns towards me with big, expectant eyes, and I realize I’m cornered—literally and figuratively. There was a time in my life when I would have cared to answer this question honestly, but that time has passed. A combination of maturity and my exposure to the liberal leanings in the great state of Massachusetts has put me at ease when discussing these otherwise taboo matters. “Yes, I’ve seen porn before,” I answer. “I don’t like it, but I’ve seen it.”
Most of the men out there I imagine will agree with me when I say that initial question was a little … vapid. If you are a male who has grown up in the last three decades in a country that has any amount of internet access, you have most likely seen porn. Is that so shocking?
Apparently, for some, it is. Katy and Jill went into a tizzy, launching a discussion which was, in my opinion, far too personal for the public forum of a restaurant. I mean, if my mother had heard this discussion (or after she reads this post), even her toes would have been turning red with embarrassment. They wanted to know everything: How many times have I seen porn? Do I watch it regularly? Why don’t I like it? Have I ever masturbated? Have I watched it with other guys before? Is that a thing guys actually do?
I wanted to crawl under the table, find a copy of the Holy Bible, and swear to never mention sex at a dinner table again. Instead, I remained above ground with my face turning all shades of pink, then red (then purple?), trying to change the subject to something else. I never thought I’d be having this conversation with women—even this pair of close, caring friends. I never wanted to.
The discussion was winding down. Jill was sitting next to me with this perplexed look on her face (which was nothing compared to the distracted glances and pauses in conversation from the table sitting next to us). I asked her why she was looking like that. She couldn’t seem to look me in the eye. “It’s just that … I don’t know, I guess I’ve never thought of you like this,” she replied. “I always thought you were like a Ken doll I down there.”
Dear women of the world: you should never say this statement to a man. Women may spend a lot of time trying to look like Barbies, and men may want to look like Ken dolls, but not in the smooth, sexless, between-the-legs department.
I wanted to protest. She should know that just because I don’t sit around objectifying women all day in front of her doesn’t mean I’m not attracted to any of them. Just because I’ve never tried to have sex with her doesn’t mean I don’t want to have sex with anyone on the entirety of God’s green earth.
It was like she imagined me as a forest nymph with wings, or a cherubic angel sporting a halo on a cloud—something sexless, genderless, an “it.” I was being compared to a piece of smooth plastic. Trust me, for better or worse, no part of me resembles a Ken doll.
I said none of these things to Jill. Instead I laughed in a moment of shock and just repeated the words: “A Ken doll.” How exactly does one respond to that?
Here’s the deal—I’m not going to concern myself with trying to find a sexual partner right now. There are too many issues occurring on our planet for me to be so concerned with this “first world problem.” I have faith that, if it is meant to be, someday I will meet the right woman. We will first fall in love with each other’s souls, then we’ll give each other our bodies. She’ll discover more than just a Ken doll down there, and we’ll put it to good use.
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