Danny explores the idea that men are somehow both expected to behave like mindless sex-obsessed animals, and yet are also held responsible for the incredibly high standards of beauty and grooming some women try to live up to.
This post is a result of Joanna Schroeder asking me to elaborate on the mixed signals I mentioned in the comments over at her post, Do Men Really Care About ‘Down There’.
A version of this originally appeared at my blog, Danny’s Corner.
I was sitting in the car about to go into the store yesterday evening when a woman that works in another department at my company was coming out. I’ll come right out and say that I think this woman is sexually attractive. Two things crossed my mind.
First this woman does not fit the image of what I, as a man, am told is sexy. She is black, doesn’t have the so-called correct proportions that make a woman sexy (in her case that would mean she doesn’t have the “exotic” features that are associated with black women), speaks her mind, and does not fall in the age range of the women we are told are attractive (she is nearly twice my age, I’m 31 for reference).
Second, while I think this woman is sexually attractive I did not have to fight off the lustful desire to have sex with her by any means necessary that men are stigmatized with. So I’m wondering about the mixed signals we get about our sexuality.
In one respect men are shown images of scantly clad women showing off almost every part of their body (while leaving some to the imagination, sometimes). These women are usually cut from a very exclusionary mold. Supposedly women are only sexy if they have a certain body shape, are a certain weight, are a certain skin color, have no disabilities, fall in the age range so that she could pass for barely legal, and only act in a traditionally feminine manner.
In order to be considered “a real man”, one must have such a woman (not just be with but have as in own, control, and treat like property). This is why a lot of the women you see on calendars, on the runway, and in porn come from this mold.
However at the same time media tells men that we are supposed to go for anything with a warm wet hole that can give us pleasure (but with enough homophobia and shame over sex toys to remind us that that warm wet hole must be female genitalia). It says that men are horn dogs that will have sex with any woman that is willing (and her not willing is no reason to end the pursuit for the goal).
I recall a line from the movie Hackers. Angelina Jolie’s character said something to the effect of, “Men have larger brains than dogs so they won’t go around humping everything in sight.” Career, education, friends and even family are not enough to stop us from doing whatever it takes to reach the promised land. And of course this leads to the blanket assertion that men are pigs, dogs, jerks, gigolos, womanizers, horn dogs, perverts, lechers, creeps, etc…
So apparently we are supposed to be extremely picky and selective about the people women we find sexually attractive to the point that we exhibit all sorts of -ist behaviors… but at the same time we’re supposed to be so overcome with lust that we just can’t stop ourselves from shoving our cocks in any and every pussy we come across even when our “partner” doesn’t want to engage in sexual activity.
And simply ignoring these signals won’t cut it. Even if my own male sexuality defies both of these messages I still have a problem with them. Once people know that I am male, chances are they will assume that my sexuality is either that of exclusionary to the point of being offensive or inclusive to the point of wanting to bang every woman in site.
Its worth noting that while these two signals happen at the same time and seem to contradict each other they are both part of why male sexuality is thought to be inherently filthy and vile. On one side you have people calling you a slave to your lust. On the other you have people saying your taste in women is discriminating to the point that you’re an asshole.
Despite there being several men who have sexual tastes like mine that don’t abide by the established norms, there is still a problem with them being established norms. First, these norms undermine men and pigeon hole us into the worst image possible either as -ist hatemongers or rapists waiting to strike.
It’s misandry plain and simple. It’s also extremely sexist towards women to imply that in the eyes of men they are expected to conform to a certain image in order to get our attention. These things must be eliminated.
What do you think? Do men exist in a strange double-bind wherein they’re expected to lust and chase after anything that moves, and yet they’re vilified for having such exacting standards for women that women end up feeling unable to please men?
Photo of Beware of Dog courtesy of Shutterstock