|What Do Men Want?
||[Mar. 13th, 2017|10:44 pm]
(an outsider ponders male heterosexuality)
I haven't often made any attempt to answer the above question. I don't answer on behalf of men because I don't identify as a man. When young, I would not have spoken on behalf of the boys in general either. Other boys made it plain that they didn't consider me to be a valid representative. As for me, I found them largely inexplicable and strange anyway.
Unlike the parallel question of what women want, famously posed with some perplexity by Sigmund Freud, it's apparently not a question that most folks find difficult to answer. Judging from the things I've heard people say on the subject, men are considered to be simple straightforward uncomplicated beings.
Sex, they say.
They say that as if that were a simple straightforward and uncomplicated answer. Which I have always found odd, since I find boys and men, and this answer, far from self-explanatory. The more I heard, the less I felt like it applied to me, although I wanted sex too but it certainly wasn't simple, straightforward, or uncomplicated in the least. "What, exactly, do you mean, men just want sex?"
Men just want to get their rocks off, I'm told.
Oh... orgasms? I understand orgasms. I discovered my capacity for them when I was a child in the one-digit age range. The presence of another person isn't really necessary. I trust you are aware of this. You're trying to explain men's behavior by saying it's all about this?
Oh, they say, no, not masturbation. Yeah men wank, they jerk off, but men are hard-wired to want to have sex with women, with as many women as possible, as often and as fast as possible. Because they want to spread their seed around. That's what we mean about it all being about sex, about men wanting to get their rocks off.
(What about the ones who want sex but not with women?, I ask. They shrug. We dunno, something went haywire. We don't think of them as men. They don't count)
Hmm, well, I have no doubt that we all have the desire for sex because of reproduction, but the blueprint doesn't appear to require us individually and locally to crave pregnancies and babies as part and parcel of desiring sex. Instead, it would appear that a general appetite for sex tends to result in enough pregnancy and childbirth as an outcome. So we don't need to crave pregnancy or to hunger for babies in order to want sex. I've been in many a situation where we had a rather strong interest in not having pregnancy result, and believe me, it didn't interfere with being interested in sex at all. You saying men in general crave the causing of pregnancies and that's causing them to display the sexual behavior you've been describing, of trying to have sex as quickly as they can with as many women as they can?
No, they admit, not a direct conscious desire for pregnancy to occur. They concede that I am right, that evolution may desire that outcome but individual people's lust for sex has a somewhat separate existence. But, they go on to add, subconsciously that's still the agenda. Men want to plow all those fields and stick their seeds in, even if they don't consciously want their girlfriends to get inconveniently pregnant and maybe stick them with child support and pressure to settle down and stuff. See, women, especially when pregnant, are hard-wired to want a pair-bonding thing and make him the provider, that's how she best passes along her own genes by making sure her baby survives and stuff. But he don't want that, it's in his nature to fertilize as many as he can. So they have a little conflict of interest, you might say.
Aah, I nod sagely. Well, that explains why men hold women who are readily sexually available in such high esteem, since they can make the circuit of such women and have sex with a great number of them. They get to spread their little seeds all over the place that way. Never mind that in actuality there may not be a lot of actual pregnancies resulting in the modern era, with birth control, but as we've already established it's not directly about trying to make actual pregnancies, but rather is a subconscious agenda, as you said, a carryover from our past. Umm, but actually men don't have very good opinions of sexually available women. Why the nasty hostile contempt for sluts? And isn't it true that men tend to end up waging a long protracted campaign to obtain sex from less slutty women, taking up a lot of time to get to the same point they could get to with the slutty women, at the conclusion of which they often end up committing themselves to a monogamous relationship that keeps those little seeds from going into any other fertile furrows? How does that square with your portrait of men being all about sex as quickly as possible with as many women as possible?
So then they usually start babbling on about men needing the thrill of the chase and the triumph of conquest, and paternity and property and passing on his name, and my eyes glaze over. Men are so complicated, and weird and inconsistent.
Well, I admitted that I want sex myself, but that I didn't see it as simple and straightforward and uncomplicated. So I guess I can't then point fingers at men and say they are different because they are not simple, straightforward and uncomplicated, can I? Well, it does seem different from how men and their sexuality are described, whether we're equally complicated or not. Now maybe the description is inaccurate and how it is for me isn't so different from how it is for these men-people. Let me explain what I understand of my own and see where that takes us.
Sexual appetite for me is also not just the craving for orgasm — just like with the men, I don't find masturbation satisfying. Likewise for it not being directly about wanting babies. What it is about is connection, the yummy being-in-love emotional high, the deliciousness of full intimacy.
And it's somehow inherently about idealizing it, sort of making a fetish out of the ideal sexual-girlfriend relationship, spending a lot of time and energy thinking about it and fantasizing about it and, on some level, not quite obsessive but always sort of watching out for the possibilities, seeking that out. Looking for it. And even bigger, beyond even that, of trying to create the conditions under which that ideal relationship could and would occur.
It's like the greatest most wonderful thing ever would be an ideal relationship taking place in a context where it would thrive. And that means making yourself the person capable of being in such a relationship, and it means cleaning up and getting your life working so that things are running on an even keel so that you could make use of an opportunity. Writ large, it even means improving the entirety of society until the social environment is such that the happiest and most satisfying sexual and romantic connection can take place and thrive.
Now, lots of people through time have talked about sex being some kind of sacrament, some holy thing you're not supposed to trample into the mud. Some shiny thing you're not supposed to profane. I'm not sure if that's the same thing I'm driving at or not. A lot of the time it does not seem to be. Much of the conversation about sex being holy and special and all that seems to have to do with restricting when it can happen and defining really narrow "OK zones" for sex and saying sex outside of those definitions means you're doing the mud-tramping thing. And frankly that sounds to me no different from sex-hating, sex-fearing condemnation of sexual pleasure and appetite, all that fault-finding and attempting to define sacred untrammelled sex.
In fact, I have come to think that sexual appetite is powerful and revolutionary and for this reason institutionalized social structures fear it and have sought to erase it, constrain it, define it narrowly while prohibiting outside-definition expressions; they've sought to attach its glamour to other items, they've attempted to harness it and make it motivate people to do the institution's bidding, and they've sought to bottle it and market it as a commodity.
In its resulting distorted forms, sexual appetite has often been experienced by people as the enemy of their self-determination and freedom. History has not been without radicals who have sought to free themselves of institutional control by transcending sexual desire.
But ultimately it is more radical to embrace it, pay attention to it, and let it lead the mind as well as the heart, because of what it intrinsically seeks.
Now, back to the men thing, men and their sexuality. I mean, yeah, I could just dismiss all that descriptive stuff and say men probably aren't like that to begin with. But it's so often men themselves saying those things about men's sexuality and what drives men and so on. Me, I've spent a lifetime being defined, both by myself and by others, as someone on the outside of the whole being-a-man thing, so take this with as many grains of salt as you find appropriate, but here's my outsider's take on it, OK?
First off, there's this game, the game I call "Heterosexuality", which is played according to these game-rules:
1. The females want to "fall in love" and be loved in return by a cute guy who will be the boyfriend, and, within that context, they want good sex (in earlier times, marriage was necessary first). The males don't really like most females that much, unless they are in love, and they aren't necessarily trying to fall in love at all, and, so, in or outside of that context, they want good sex. Therefore...
2. Males come on to females, usually because they are physically attracted to them, since their main interest is physical and appearance is a physical phenomenon. Sometimes they come on to a female because she has a reputation for being sexually available to males whether they love her or not. Either way, the females can reject the guys they don't have any interest in at all, but the other males have to be kept interested but slowed down so that proximity and time creates the possibility that he will really start to like her, perhaps fall in love. Females do not overtly come on to males.
3. Males who are rejected are allowed to keep on trying, since males who think they are not really being rejected, just slowed down a bit, are supposed to keep on trying, and sometimes you can't tell which is which anyway. But if a male thinks a female is being too hard to get, so that it isn't fun for him any more, he can quit paying attention to her - he doesn't have to keep on trying. Females are not supposed to pursue the matter. It is up to him to press the issue.
from "Same Door, Different Closet: A Heterosexual Sissy's Coming-out Party, 1992
Now, not all men are playing the Heterosexuality game, but a great many of the male people who don't are either defined by others as not-men, or define themselves as other than men, or (as has been the case for me) both of those things.
So you have to understand men in the context of the Heterosexuality game that most of them are playing. Suppose they want the connection-thing and the ideal-relationship-thing too, as their first and foremost real desire, so that they're basically just like me? That would mean that the folks who say men just want sex as quickly and as often with as many women as possible are wrong, but just suppose. Go along with me here. Let's say this is what the men want even if they aren't consciously aware of it, that it is what they want even if they themselves believe they just want sex as quickly as often etc etc. Well, how are they going to get there within the context of the Heterosexuality game as described? Well, by losing. By finding the woman who will successfully trap him, catch him, and "domesticate" him into the ongoing emotionally-connected relationship he craves and needs. In other words, this is the flip side of the conventional notion about sex described so well by Robin Thicke: the nice good girl really wanting to be seized and done unto masterfully by the bad boy who knows she wants it. On this other level, the level of ongoing intimate connection, she's the one who knows what he really wants and makes it happen. Which sex is doing the more meaningful steering?
There's nothing new about identifying the establishment of a long-term relationship as some kind of female win, or even evoking an image of the conquered man shackled. But now we are negating the notion that he wanted something different. This is what he wants, but he's in denial; he believes he just wants sex as often and as quickly and with as many women as he can. So in the Heterosexuality Game he's actually being set up to be brought down. A need for conquest, indeed!
Oh, did I ever mention that what I, as a male girl, want is that I not be deprived of the powers and privileges that female people have, both within sexual liaisons and within relationships, and during initial courting and flirting and negotiations for any and all of that to occur?
Self-identified real men may dissent.
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