Preamble: My apologies in advance for apparent hetero-cis-centrism – the discussion I’m adding to is largely hetero-cis-normative in as far as I can see, and in as far as I feel qualified to comment. This post focuses on a specific attitude of heterosexual men and their enablers, with bad attitudes towards women and sex, although there are permutations of the issue that could involve other, broader and/or less defined ranges in the gender/sexuality continua. A lack of explanation in these respects is not intended as exclusion or detraction (snippets of non-cis-hetero anecdotes and wisdom are welcome in the comments).
Allow me to wax cod-philosophic, folk-theoretic about sex.
There’s an attitude that goes by various guises, names or none, is usually espoused by self-pitying men and their enablers, and has features and flaws that would seem obvious except for the myopia of said self-pitying men. It often manifests in opinions such as…
‘Women have all the power in sex.’
‘She only has sex to get what she wants.’
‘Ladies deliberately attract men, then rebuff them capriciously.’
‘You have to do X,Y and Z to flick whatever switch it is in her brain that makes her serve-up sex.’
‘I’m not going to be bullied by a woman who wants to control me through sex!’
‘I wouldn’t “obsess” about sex so much, if she didn’t obsessively withhold it from me!’
‘She just wants me for my money/assets/status, and not my mind [nor apparently, for fucking’s sake].’
In short, women ‘dispense’ sex for whatever (usually Machiavellian) purpose.
There’s a lot to take issue with in this attitude. First and foremost – in as far as women ‘dispense’ sex, they’re free to; it’s their body.
However, in addition to the more obvious objections, there’s a flip-side; a double standard to this bizarre attitude towards a woman’s supposed ‘sexual capital’; we see men viewing women’s sex as being withheld with a purpose, in a sense, to increase its purchasing power – more diamonds, more money, more men grovelling, more control, more man-pain. We don’t see these same men applying the same logic to men who withhold sex from women, as if sexually active women couldn’t possibly desire sex for what it is.
This, beyond any kind of Puritanism that views female sexual desire as somehow dirty.
These men view a woman’s sexuality as a commodity of a sort, but are slow to place a value on their own, presumably because it’s an uncomfortable prospect just thinking about thinking about it. When it comes to what women want, sexually, a back-handed defence of the male ego metastasizes into some kind of categorical imperative.
When women turn down sex with a man, they deny themselves a sexual interaction just as much as they deny their prospective partner. In as far as refusal can say anything about what women bring to the bedroom (such as the ‘price’), it also infers a value for what men have on offer as lovers.
Fellas, perhaps she just doesn’t want your sex, now, or ever. Perhaps she’s not holding out for a new necklace or a set of earrings.
Maybe she doesn’t trust you to be around her drinks. Maybe she doesn’t trust that she’ll be safe around you. Maybe she doesn’t trust you’ll be a good fuck.
Hell, maybe you’ve got a six-pack, a nice smile, and all the moves and stamina to boot, but the prospect of it being you makes the sex unattractive. She’s not objectively bound to realise all of your allegedly profound qualities, even if you think that makes her ‘shallow’. (Perhaps you don’t know a thing about what she likes, ‘shallow’ or not).
Maybe she doesn’t like small (or average) cocks. Maybe she doesn’t think your hands will spank well. It’s her paraphilia if she’s got one, and she can like what she wants. It’s her body. It’s her.
(And guys, please. Don’t wrinkle up your nose, or complain about your sore jaw at the mere mention of cunnilingus. When you do that, you look like the archetypal man-child who won’t eat his broccoli or the crusts on his sandwiches.)
I don’t care so much, just how biologically predisposed we may be to this kind of attitude – how bound up in culture is it, that women are seen as the dispensers of sex?
How big is the challenge, if people are to take this issue on?
Aside from objectifying women more generally, specifically, the ‘dispensary’ attitude denies their sexual desire. The flip-side of this downplays (or doesn’t) what men have to offer (and in a sense, is implicitly sexually degrading for men).
Any comprehensive challenge would seem to entail telling self-pitying hetero guys to stop whining, and to start considering what they bring to the table (bedroom/loungeroom/kitchen floor/etc.), sexually speaking.
Yeah, maybe it is too small – for this one lady. There’ll be others. No harm, no foul.
Perhaps guys, you’re unattractive to her. Again, there’ll be others. (Although health and hygiene are worth considering on their own merits, as is personality).
Maybe, men, you do cum too fast. Perhaps you should learn to deal with your anxieties more productively, or perhaps just be less selfish.
Or maybe, guys, you’re selling yourself short. Why wallow and mope if this is the case? That’s just sabotaging yourself (and leads to a future, if you’re not already there at the end of the journey, where you only become more unbearable an asshole). Indeed, why wallow and mope if you’re not selling yourself short as a lover?
How often is self-pity a good, healthy thing, or attractive?
Is the idea of a heterosexual woman, just one, someone, somewhere, seeing a guy’s cock for the first time as she unzips his pants, and finding it beautiful, such that her eye’s light up like she’s unwrapping a present at a particularly happy Christmas, so unbelievable?
Is the idea of women, losing themselves physically in the company of a man, almost ingesting him in a rhythmic, intoxicating embrace, so beyond imagination?
Is the idea of a mutual sexual consent, where beyond just saying ‘yes’, both lovers have sexual treats on offer for one another, so bizarre or counter-intuitive? How could it be so? Isn’t just the prospect of anything else being the norm just a little bit insane? Isn’t the status quo as it stands on the matter, just a little (or more than a little) bit balmy?
Looking at the population of the planet, patriarchy not withstanding, shouldn’t it inspire just a little bit of scepticism in people when it’s universally (or near-universally) alleged that everything but sex is a motive in women’s minds when women have sex?
I’m more than a little sceptical of the intellectual honesty of men who make these claims, I feel sorry for people who truly believe them or have to deal with the consequences, and I’m opposed to the unthinking perpetuation of the belief, either as the direct, universal discounting of the extent of heterosexual female sexual desire*, or as its corollaries.
* Or the extent of non-hetero, non-cis sexualities.
One thought on “The flip-side of the ‘woman as sex dispensary’ attitude”
I stumbled upon this blog entry via a google search, and am surprised that it hasn’t attracted more comments, so I guess I’ll be the first.
The short answer to the three “idea” questions is an emphatic “yes” . . . if you go by conventional wisdom.
On a more serious note, the answer to the first question is easily seen as unbelievable, because male genitalia isn’t normally thought of as beautiful, and a woman who publicly voiced such an opinion without anonymity would almost certainly be considered out-of-the-ordinary. Women get complimented on their appearances by men much more than the other way round as well, so the idea of male genitalia seeming beautiful to heterosexual women in this day and age in first-world countries is doubly strange.
The answer to the second “idea” question is unbelievable partly due to the whole “lie back and think of England” stereotype, and partly because the view of “I need a willing woman just so I can get off better than masturbation would let me do so” doesn’t inherently include any provision for female sexual pleasure. Women in this view don’t enjoy or participate in sex; they endure it and use it for exchange or ransom.
The answer to the third “idea” question is unbelievable if you see it as a product of the whole “battle of the sexes” in the heterosexual arena; both sexes want something the other is unwilling to fully and freely give, so they hedge, lie, cajole, etc. to trick/manipulate/force the other to give up sex/commitment/resources.
All this is related to the whole bit about “male sexuality is worthless” (a thesis addressed even by academics such as Catherine Hakim in her book “Honey Money” about “Erotic Capital”). Hakim says it’s because “of excess supply at zero cost,” and what you term as “self-pitying men” learn it quickly because a man voicing his sexual interest in a woman he doesn’t know well (or even a women he knows well) is almost always grounds for a negative/hostile reaction. Another blogger put it more harshly:
“While women are extremely valuable sex objects, male sexuality is worthless or (usually) worse, having a negative value; there is no intrinsic value in the male body, unfortunately. Most men are sexually invisible or disgusting to most women while most men find most women at least somewhat attractive.”
And how would these “self-pitying men” (I would prefer to call them chronically-underinformed; it’s not like they teach this stuff in First World public schools) learn different from the opinions you outlined? They feel cursed with their sex drives, pushing them to desire what they cannot get (since to them what drives female heterosexual desire is unfathomable), and opening them up to exploitation by “cockteases” and the like. To them, women have the power to choose and reject men at the drop of a hat with neither rhyme nor reason, or to choose the wrong man and torment other men who believe, justifiably or not, that they’d be a better pick. To them, women can shut down their sex drives at will with no ill effects or constant reminders of what’s being missed. After all, it’s not like sex-starved women actually broadcast their sexual starvation to men (indeed these men believe that since “women can get sex anytime,” sexual scarcity for women is nonexistent), and the trope of a good heterosexual marriage gradually becoming more and more sexless because of the woman’s disinterest is known far and wide.
WIth such limited data, how can these “self-pitying men” come to other conclusions? Their sex drives torment them daily, the inscrutability of female heterosexual desire confounds them, the putative ability of women to quickly and happily reject any and every man who approaches her and go contentedly home to her vibrator to enjoy all the risk-free orgasms she wants–all these make them feel as though their sexuality is worthless and unwanted (not to mention grounds for criminal prosecution given how quickly false rape/harassment accusations get thrown about). And how could they think otherwise? What positive things has their sexuality done for them?
What else could they think, other than that women are sexual misers who dole out scraps in exchange for whatever they want at the moment? Who exactly is publicly charged with teaching heterosexual men how to approach women, indicate sexual interest in non-creepy ways, how to handle rejection, and how to please a woman once the right one and the right connection has been found?
That’s right, no one. And just as the sleep of reason brings forth monsters, lack of understanding in this arena breeds resentment and hatred from a hunger that ever demands to be satisfied, and yet curiously seems absent in roughly half the human species.