Sunday, August 19, 2007

Why Men Have To Keep A Straight Face

In American culture, girls have rituals to mark their progression as women. When their breasts start to develop, they go to the store to buy bras with their mothers. When they reach menarche, their mothers or another female adult teaches them about menstruation and how to care for their bodies. Girls learn that this marks the end of one stage of their life and the beginning of another.

Boys don’t have the same rites of passage for their masculinity. When we grow pubic hair and start getting erections, no one talks to us about it. And eleven or twelve-year-old boys aren’t about to bring it up themselves. No one explains to us how and what to do. Without knowing what it means to be a male and lacking a sense of our masculinity, we are lost.

Adults stop touching boys by the time they turn eight, which is younger than the age at which we stop touching girls. Only girls have permission to touch each other’s hair and be affectionate with one another whereas boys are shamed for touching each other in any way other than through sports.

In the book, I Don't Want To Talk About Itpublished by Scribner Books in 1998 author Terrance Real writes:

“Boys and men are granted privilege and special status, but only on the condition that they turn their backs on vulnerability and connection to join in the fray. Those who resist, like unconventional men or gay men, are punished for it. Those who lose or cannot compete, like boys and men with disabilities, or of the wrong class or color, are marginalized and rendered all but invisible. . . The exclusion, isolation, of a failed winner is so great, it as if he never existed at all".

Patriarchy is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as, ‘The predominance of men in positions of power and influence in society, with cultural values and norms being seen as favoring men."

Patriarchy defines masculinity by rigid rules that men are to live by. Men are to avoid and distance themselves from being viewed as gay. In our culture, being male is a privileged status, and anything else is viewed as inferior.

What boys need from their father, Real argues, is “affection, not ‘masculinity’.” He rightly stresses that men need more emotion and vulnerability, which they need to learn from their fathers. Sex becomes men’s way of being affectionate not just with women but with other men. There is no other way other than sports to have male physical bonding. This allows for touch and intimacy with another man.

Men who have a strong desire to bond with another man who are not athletically inclined do so through eroticism. Sex is an easy and secretive way to meet their affectional and physical needs especially when both understand that they will keep it on the downlow. In fact, for men the need for affection from other males is not known consciously to themselves because of our cultural prohibition. Thus sex with other men on the downlow is kept quiet but meeting a need at the same time.

Another way of releasing anger and power over other men is in dominating other men. The movies Deliverance and Pulp Fiction were powerful because of the scenes involving male rape, a phenomenon that is more common than we admit.

Men rape other men to show dominance but they have to feminize the raped man or turn him into animal, as in Deliverance to remove any trace of homosexuality.

Men are not taught how to deal with sexual advances from other men the way women are taught; as a result, men get aggressive and overreact to overtures in protest. Rage toward other males can become eroticized through rape and humiliation. Men who are angry at fathers who might have abused them react by sexually harassing other men.

For most men, humiliating another male through homosexual gestures and sexual innuendos is the worst punishment one could give and/or receive. In this way, they go from victim to victor.

Until these Straight Guise truly understand their situation, they are going to continue to sexually act out on the downlow and not tell their female spouses—or anyone else for that matter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been very interested in learning about this subject as my son was molested as a young boy by a teenager, but also I have an adult male friend who has been trying to explain this to me exactly how you have due to major sexual trauma as a small boy. It is completely understandable and I'd like to hear more of what you have to say. Thank you.