Just as I addressed the Madonna-Whore complex in the last blog post, men also deal with binary messages that pits them in chronically unsuccessful positions.
On the one hand... men are given the cultural message that in order to be "masculine," they are supposed to be strong and powerful. Always ready for the sexual pounce... to be the sexual aggressor... to take advantage of any opportunity to "get laid." And he should be all-knowing in the bedroom department... experienced... able to sweep his partner away into ecstasy and pleasure. Not only is he supposed to know what to do... but the message goes further in that the man is responsible for the woman's sexual awakening. She's the passive one... he's the active one. And so the pressure is on. If she doesn't enjoy the experience, if there is any level of pain or discomfort, if she doesn't have an orgasm... it's all on his shoulders.
Sadly, this take completely robs men of their own experience within a sexual debut. It's so performance oriented and opportunity based, that their own experience is not something that's even prioritized. How many times have you thought to ask a man... was your first time a good experience for you? Did you have sex with someone you regret or someone you feel good about? We just assume, since we're so male-centric in our approach to sexuality, that he would automatically have a good time. One of the ironies of the male-centric approach.
On the other end of the spectrum... men are treated like creatures completely not within the realm of sexual control. That at the slightest provocation of seduction (including a "scantily-clad" woman walking down the street)... all control will be lost. That a man will naturally give in to his inner beast, without any thought, need or desire for emotional connection and an assumption that values and morals would be non-existent. It is one of the most offensive stereotypes I believe men face. That somehow women need to manage their level of desirability because otherwise, men have no choice but to be affected by them.
With these consistently harmful messages men face, so many aspects of manhood are ignored. The ability that men have to be equally emotional beings... the fact that not all men are the high-libido partner in their relationships... the desire many men have to be found sexy and attractive and desirable by their partners (instead of doing all the desiring & pursuing themselves)... as well as the similar needs men have as women such as the importance of consent, pleasure focus vs. performance anxiety, and erotic communication to name a few.
So what can we do to start reversing the negative impacts these messages have had.. as it’s probably been difficult to not internalize them at some level for both men and women?
Take a deep breath and consider the following:
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