Yet Another Bunch of Myths About Male Sexual Desire

And once again the Puritanic legacy of this sex-deprived and sexually repressed culture wins the day:

The desire for the approval of other men shapes straight men’s sexual desires. Think of the very reasonable claims of many men that they’re not attracted to size zero, skin-and-bones supermodels. Lots of guys claim, with apparent sincerity, that they love women with “curves.” So why are men so interested in dating skinny models?

The need to believe that sexual desire is a result of social pressures betrays a profound fear of the uncontrollable nature of sexual urges. If we repeat often enough that things we find very easy to understand, analyze and describe shape sexuality, we will end up believing it and our fear of desire will abate. This will be a momentary respite, of course, and soon yet another string of platitudes will have to be uttered to exorcise the horror Puritans experience every time they realize that sexuality cannot be easily contained, predicted, and quantified.

The last statement in the quote I provided is also very curious. I understand that the author of the piece is from California and I hear that things are different there. However, I have to ask, where does the author find all these men “so interested in dating skinny models”? I can just imagine asking any of the men I have met in the course of my life in a variety of contexts (at work, at school, on the bus, in a bar, in a store, etc.), “So are you interested in dating skinny models?” I am convinced that any one of those men would think I was mentally disturbed for asking this question.

The central claim of the post I quoted is that men lie when they claim not to care about the beauty of their partner. Of course, a person of either gender is lying through their teeth if they are saying that physical attraction is meaningless to them. A psychologically healthy individual would never have sex with a person they don’t find attractive.

Hugo Schwyzer, the author of this piece, has dedicated a lot of effort to convincing women who are not thin that our personal lives are doomed to be horrible. Now, he has a new hobby: telling women my age and older that we are equally doomed:

Enough aging men do sexualize very young women—and disparage their female peers—to send a loud and clear message to women on the high side of 35.

Just imagine what depths of loneliness await those of us who are over 35 and not thin at the same time!

Of course, I could mention that in my personal experience of being a woman (which, in any case, is more significant than Hugo Schwyzer’s experience of womanhood), I have never been as happy in my personal life and felt as attractive and desirable as I do now, at my oldest and fattest. But who cares about actual experiences of women when an opportunity presents itself to pity us for things we have no desire to be pitied for?

Seriously, if this is the only way to be a male feminist, I’d rather there weren’t any.

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25 comments on “Yet Another Bunch of Myths About Male Sexual Desire

  1. “…every time they realize that sexuality cannot be easily contained, predicted, and quantified.”

    Hear, hear!

    I’ve realized the past few years that I have a rather odd fetish that it is completely unconscious, or was until I thought about it a few years ago.

    To omit some caveats, I like women who look like they’ve been in a fight or a battle. I would say “battered,” but I don’t want someone to come back and say, “Mike likes beating women up and promotes domestic abuse!” Though someone inevitably will, of course.

    Women with bruised faces, or scarred faces (though not so much that their features are obliterated) who are otherwise attractive? I have an atavistic, animalistic reaction to that. Something in me just absolutely loves it.

    Note: I have never struck a woman in my life*, and would probably remorselessly kill and bury any man I knew who was doing so to one of my female friends.

    However, a woman with a couple of black eyes, some facial scars, some scratches or a bit of blood?

    Good god, that just does it for me. I don’t even really want it to be true. But it is, and it’s not conscious. Not something I decided. Out of my control, but there nonetheless.

    So yes, you are exactly right about sexuality in general.

    Incidentally, it was through watching the TV show Dollhouse with the doctor with facial scars that I realized consciously how attractive that was to me.

    *I have hit a woman while sparring in hand-to-hand combat training. I lost about as often as I won.

    • That’s the thing. If we start judging people on the basis of their sexual preferences and drawing conclusions about their personalities on that basis, we will never get anywhere productive. One can, of course, go to a psychoanalyst and disentangle the process of how one’s sexual preferences were built, but other than that, there is no way to make such judgments legitimately.

      I have also been attracted exclusively to men who remind me of my great-grandfather. It’s a good thing he was a great person, of course. :-)

    • Even if we DO draw conclusions about Mike’s personality on the basis of his fetish, I don’t see how we’d get to him being abusive and misogynistic. Liking women with scars tells me he likes women strong, smart, and capable enough to weather and survive violent times and not be destroyed by them. The man said he likes women with scars, not that he likes putting them there. Let’s stick to a logical causal path, people :D

      [Not that anyone’s blamed him yet, but just pointing out how that route would be utterly irrational]

      • Precisely. At the most I’m thinking his fetish is odd but only in a numerical sense (I’ve never heard anyone with this fetish before but considering how male sexuality is so demonized I’m not surprised if Mike doesn’t explain it too often).

    • Incidentally, it was through watching the TV show Dollhouse with the doctor with facial scars that I realized consciously how attractive that was to me.
      Ah Amy Acker….mmm…

  2. “The desire for the approval of other men shapes straight men’s sexual desires.”

    Bullshit! Approval has nothing to do with sexual desire.

    But the desire for the approval of the other men makes many men faking their pseudo-non-attraction for chubby women.

    The women I’m in love the most is a very smart and very beautiful gorgeous chubby women of 30 years old. Many guys (like me! :) ) are strongly sexually attracted by her but they don’t want her to be their girlfriend because “Men should be in couple with skinny-trophy stupidwomen to be a winner”. I don’t play that kind of fucking game.

    • “The women I’m in love the most is a very smart and very beautiful gorgeous chubby women of 30 years old”

      – I hope something good is happening for you. :-)

      What people often seem to forget is that the proportion of women who fake a non-existing desire for purposes of acceptance and prestige is exactly the same as the proportion of men who do so. Once again, this is simply not a gender issue. This is an issue of some people’s immaturity and extremely low self-esteem.

    • If we are just talking sexual desire my own desires lean towards older/old women (older being just a few years older than myself and old being many years older then myself).

      In that regard I’ve grown to hate all this talk of MILF and cougar and so forth. I mainly hate it because its not an actual acknowledgement that being attracted to older women is not a problem or acknowledging that getting old doesn’t mean a women can no longer be considered sexy. Its a pop culture phenomenon in which its hip and trendy for guys to talk about “hot MILFs” and hip and trendy for women to want to have sex with younger guys.

      And for some odd reason Hugo thinks stuff like this happens because its just men seeking approval from other men? I guess those older women are just poor little agency-less things who are helpless caught up in a whirlwind of pop culture.

  3. Here you go again along that “sexual preferences just happen, they are not culturally determined path”, jumping on poor Hugo for some little slip… :)
    Of course Hugo is wrong to conflate sexual desire per se with the desire for homosocial approval. But the desire for homosocial approval is a very real thing, and Hugo speaking of it does not mean he wants to make non-model-variety women feel horrible about themselves. He is addressing real phenomenon which needs to be addressed. It is actually important that it is addressed by a male.

    I also suspect many men, especially young ones, are not self-aware enough to fully distinguish between different sources of attraction they happen to experience for a woman. Nobody consciously makes a decision “I do not desire (model) X that much, but I will date her since it increases my status”. Men may get into relationship, experience all kind of problems attributable to insufficient sexual desire, but ascribe them to just personal incompatibilities instead. And repeat the circle…
    So it is important for males to read what Hugo wrote. He wrote it not for women, he wrote it at “Good Men Project”

    • Yes, poor little Hugo, he keeps slipping and slipping.

      What I find funny is that the only place where I hear that women who look like me and women who are over 35 are doomed to have miserable personal lives is Hugo’s blog.

      Seriously, where are all those men who are tricked into wanting to date models by the horrible patriarchy? They must be in the same place where all the women who dream of dating football players are.

      If this phenomenon exists at all, it is limited to such in insignificant segment of population that I find it very hard to care.

      As for the desire for homosocial approval, it is, once again, absolutely not a gender thing. I see no legitimate reason to talk about it as such and manufacture a gender divide where there is none.
      Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

      • —Seriously, where are all those men who are tricked into wanting to date models by the horrible patriarchy?

        I was actually tempted, in the beginning, to make an experiment, and to declare that I find any woman larger than size 4 (four) sexually unattractive, but it is just a preference, not culturally determined at all, and having nothing to do with the patriarchy. Or with seeking homosocial approval…
        And then see how quickly the female readers of this blog will kick my deluded male chauvinist pig ass. :) :)

      • I don’t think anybody would condemn you for your preference. I, for example, am only attracted to men who are over 6 feet tall and have so much muscle that they never weigh less than 200 pounds. I don’t think anybody will get upset about this statement on my part. :-)

        I always say that if a guy can’t lift me off the ground, I’m not interested. :-) And believe me, lifting me is quite a feat. :-) As I said, sexual preferences are not ideological.

      • On the money. Its one thing to prefer guys like that its quite another going around insulting men who don’t meet that preference.

  4. I am sure one can find a “feminist” who finds your preferences questionable on the ideological grounds :) :)
    But seriously, if I’d really have such strict preferences as in the above experiment, I wouldn’t delude myself with “my preferences just happen”. Even for my real, significantly looser preferences, I would not insist they are not culturally influenced.

    • And, by the way, it is funny that we have very similar basis for our preferences – the lifting basis. :) My preferences are based on my ability to lift a woman. :) Since I am not a big guy, this places certain limitations on women sizes. Which happen to be in line with the currently dominating cultural message. :)

      • A close friend of mine (female) prefers men she can lift. There is a wide variety of sexual preference in this world. Human sexuality is a lot more varied than the reductive, boring picture people like Hugo are trying to sell to us.

      • A close friend of mine (female) prefers men she can lift.

        Me, too. I don’t pick people up when I meet them, though; I just tend to be most attracted to people near my own size. (I can, and have, lifted people up to ~25 pounds heavier than I am. I weigh between 200 and 210 pounds, most of it muscle.)

        I also tend to worry excessively about crushing or hurting people smaller than me, so I tend not to be attracted to very small women. (I’ve been in love with a much smaller man, who was about two-thirds my size, but he was pretty wiry and tough.)

    • Even if they are somewhat culturally influenced, there is no reason to suspect that they are culturally influenced to a greater degree or differently for men than for women.

      I insist that this obsession with the supposed undesirability of larger women (and now 35+ women) is purely Hugo’s own personal issue that he is trying to mitigate by presenting it as some kind of an ideological battle.

      “I am sure one can find a “feminist” who finds your preferences questionable on the ideological grounds ”

      -Alternatively, we could look at men in my family who are all tall and big. This is a much more convincing explanation for my preference than anything else. In my opinion, of course.

  5. The desire for the approval of other men shapes straight men’s sexual desires. Think of the very reasonable claims of many men that they’re not attracted to size zero, skin-and-bones supermodels. Lots of guys claim, with apparent sincerity, that they love women with “curves.” So why are men so interested in dating skinny models?
    As one of many men that’s attracted to women (the jury is still out on the whole “straight” thing) I’ll say that while there is overlap he is pretty much comparing apples to oranges.

    Yes there are men that claim to not be attracted to a zero while lusting for skinny models but the thing he seems to not realize is that for the most part the men that are attracted to size zero women and those who are attracted to curvy women are two different subsets of men. This would be like taking women who want to marry men with money and women women who don’t care about marrying a man with money singling out the ones who say they don’t care but really do and then passing them off as the representation of all women.

    The desire for the approval of other men shapes straight men’s sexual desires.
    Only in some cases and even then its mostly young guys and guys for whom thinking they need the approval of other men is just a part of a whole package of putting too much stock in what other people think (but I bet he wouldn’t say that a man’s choice of occupation, one where a lot of money and status can be had, is shapes by the desire of approval of women).

  6. “The desire for the approval of other men shapes straight men’s sexual desires. Think of the very reasonable claims of many men that they’re not attracted to size zero, skin-and-bones supermodels. Lots of guys claim, with apparent sincerity, that they love women with “curves.” So why are men so interested in dating skinny models?”

    Why do men ask such ill posed questions? That’s right only some men do.

    “Enough aging men do sexualize very young women—and disparage their female peers—to send a loud and clear message to women on the high side of 35.”

    No, using weasel words like “enough aging men” does not make men in general find women over 35 unattractive.

    Perhaps Hugo Schwyzer thinks he is setting some sort of standard that straight guys will aim for in order to get his approval.

    I will stick with fantasizing about confident, curvy, 35+ year old women with a tertiary education that can think and express those thoughts and Hugo can count me as an outlier.

    • I imagine that the amount of “over 35 year old men” who disparrage their female peers is probably about the same as the number of late teen/early twenties women who do the same thing.

      But of course, that doesn’t fit Schwyzer’s worldview of the perpetually innocent victim-woman.

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