You caught me! I'm watching a documentary titled: Kim Cattral's Sexual Intelligence. There are so many things wrong with this movie! Yet I am eerily drawn to it. Well, maybe it's not that I eerie. Maybe it's just that I (like most people) am interested in sex. And despite the comically cheesy script and the "interview" subjects who are clearly actors, the movie did get me thinking...
Maybe we've been too hard on men. Okay, I get patriarchy -- a system that gives more privileges to men than women. But an over-simplified analysis of patriarchy could lead a person (say, me as a sophomore in college) to believe that all men have it easy. But I tend to believe that if it's simple, it ain't true. And I think this oversimplification has negative implications on the ways men are viewed in our society.
Men are complicated people. Men have feelings. Men can be vulnerable. Men can be beautiful and sensitive and sensual and sweet and kind and loving and tender and imperfect and weak and silly and gentle, everything that "men" aren't; MEN are.
"Men" (in quotes) refers to the uber-masculine stereotype of what men "should" be. MEN (no quotes, with or without caps) describes what men actually are. And first and foremost, men are people.
Maybe that just sounds silly. But I think it bears stating: men are people. Women are people. People of all genders are people. That's why we call them people.
Some people are totally emotionally unavailable. Some of those people (perhaps most of them?) are men. But not all of them are. I'm blessed to know a lot of amazing, caring men. And no surprise, they have all the complex feelings and emotions that all people experience.
Men (in general) have to face some challenges that women (in general) don't. Penis' come with baggage. I was an awkward teenager. My hormones were raging and I was aroused by the most random and inexplicable things. Luckily, being a girl, no one was the wiser if I got turned on in math class. My male classmates' bodies did not allow for the same discretion. I cannot imagine the embarrassment that comes along with your classmates seeing you pitch a tent during freshman algebra. Oi!
Something all humans have to deal with is getting aroused when they don't want to or not getting aroused when they do want to. Either situation has the potential to totally suck, but people with penis' lack the option to keep it a secret. When you combine that exposure with the "Don Johnson" stereotype -- the myth that a man is only as good as his control over his penis (and over women) -- you get a tough situation for many men.
Men get messages that the size and hardness of their dick is what makes them a "man." If you buy into that myth, I can't imagine the performance pressure that comes along. And let's face it, this myth is so pervasive that it's difficult not to buy into it on some level. As such, I would like to see increased understanding an empathy for this, and other difficulties, that are unique to the male experience.
Is the patriarchy alive and well? Yes, without question. But when it comes to sex and sensuality we need to have complicated conversations about pressures experienced by people of all genders. And we need to have equally complicated conversations about sexual violence. Does the pressure put on men to be "men" contribute to perpetrators' desire to rape? Could shifting the way we understand men's sexuality, individual struggles and social pressures lead us to a more comprehensive understanding of human sexuality and sexual violence? I think it could.
Simple solutions hide untruths. People are not 1-dimensional. And the more dimensions we can examine and understand, the closer we'll be to creating a world without rape, a world in which all sexual interactions are communicative, pleasurable and consensual.