Male Identity and Sex

One of my favorite bloggers, Danny, wrote a beautiful guest post for Womanist Musings that says, among other things, the following:

The script of being a man says we are supposed to have as much sex as possible, and if we aren’t trying to have sex, or are thinking about having sex, it’s an indicator that something is wrong with us.

I wanted to discuss the issue of how sexual expectations define male identities in negative ways for a while now and this great post reminded me of that.

A very close male friend once said to me, “Clarissa, I’m very worried. I think I have something very wrong with me and I need to see a doctor.”

“What’s happening?” I asked.

“I’ve been hanging out with this woman and she’s great. We have a lot of fun together. But then she wanted to become intimate and I couldn’t get it up. I’m only 29 and I’m already impotent. This must be a sign of major health issues.”

“Have you considered the possibility that you simply feel no desire for this particular woman?” I asked.

“But that isn’t normal,” my friend said. “I’m young. I’m supposed to be able to perform any time.”

This pernicious idea that men are supposed to want sex anywhere, any time and with anybody does untold damage to their health. Sex becomes not something you do because it brings you joy but, rather, a performance you engage in for the benefit of others and to affirm your masculinity. The perfectly normal manifestations of human libido (which include, for example, not wanting to have sex with specific people or during certain periods of time) become a sign that something is deeply wrong with the man in question.

This view of male sexuality is deeply harmful to both men and women. Having sex for any other reason than wanting to have sex with this particular person (or people) causes great damage to a person’s sexual, emotional and physical health.

My friend did not believe me and finally managed to have relations with the woman in question. After a month of a pretty miserable relationship, she confessed to him that she never wanted to have sex with him either but thought that this had to be what he wanted. Why else would he be hanging out with her, anyway?

11 thoughts on “Male Identity and Sex

  1. Thanks for the link love.

    I’ve face a similar situation like this where I was with a person that found to be attractive and for some reason I thought that simply finding the person attractive meant that I was supposed get a matching erection (I was pretty young at the time mind you). Thankfully I’ve gotten past that.

    Male sexual desire is not some switch that is always in the on position nor is it a sole indicator that a male finds someone attractive.


  2. I’m rapidly getting to the point where I don’t read the comments most places – it’s bad for my blood pressure. Disagreement is one thing, but egregiously silencing behavior is another.


  3. The man box is something that all men in North America have to struggle with daily, even those who understand what it is, what purpose it serves, and in what way it limits them. A lot of it has to do with sex and emotions, unfortunately.


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