Friday, May 31, 2013

Why the bad taste?

So Alyssa Royse has a post up at Good Men Project titled, "The Danger in Demonizing Male Sexuality". In this post Alyssa talks about, well, what's dangerous about demonizing male sexuality. It's a good post and you should give it a read however I think there are some things around the end of the post that could (and has) left a less than nice taste in the mouths of some of the guys reading it.

Near the end of the post Alyssa asks:
So, how can we all work together to change our collective impression of male sexuality as something that is dangerous and disgusting? Besides the obvious—understanding male privilege, dismantling of patriarchal mythology and ending rape culture? Those issues are far too big for me to take on here, but without accomplishing those three, nothing changes. So while we work toward those goals, here are some steps to take along that path:
Okay since she chose to not touch on those three in her post I'll leave them be for now as well. Let's take a look at her steps.
1. Be an ally. Help us stop the violence against women. I am assuming that none of you would do what happened in Stubenville, but would you have helped stop it? Have you been vocal about how wrong it was? About how that should not represent you or your sexuality? From a societal perspective, we need your help. From a personal perspective, when we feel safe, we let our guards down, and that’s the first step to an intimate connection.
2. Ask women what they want, and listen to what they tell you. We are all different; we all want different things from the men in our life. Rather than getting lost in a frustrated guessing game, ask us. Listen to our answers. Tell us what you want, with words, and listen to our responses. Whether it’s sex or any other relationship, the best way to not be seen as predatory is to not act like a predator. And that means communication, not acquisition. Which, by the way, is also called consent. “Yes” is the safest word of all.
3. Let us in, don’t lure us in. Lay off the cologne, the pick-up lines, and the games. Please. Trust that you do not need to trick people into wanting you. Trust that you are worthy, just as you are. And that you deserve someone who wants you for who you actually are, how you actually are.
4. Don’t take it personally. Your self worth is in no way connected to whether or not some girl (or guy) wants you. I am constantly telling people to “Consider Cilantro.” (Seriously, I need that on a t-shirt.) Some people love cilantro. Some people think that cilantro tastes like tinfoil soaked in dish soap. That in no way reflects on the worthiness of cilantro. And cilantro never takes it personally. If you can, don’t even think of it as rejection, you are just cilantro sometimes. After all, you’re not attracted to every person you meet, why would every person you meet be attracted to you?
5. And lastly,know that your body is beautiful. I, like most females, was warned that penises and balls and anuses were gross. I was told to hold my nose, close my eyes, get it over with. Imagine my disappointment when I saw my first penis and there were no festering boils hissing my name, no sulfurous clouds wafting up from a menacing member. I thought it was kind of cute. As I learned more about them, I grew to love them, in and out. Hell, there are times when I was sure I heard angels giving hummers on high when I’ve see one. Most of us straight chicks really like your bodies. You don’t need to trick us into liking them. That is what makes us straight, after all.
However, they are not lures, and we are not fish. Do not, ever, show them to us unless we ask for it. The bonus for you is that when we ask for it, it’s because we want it, so you aren’t really risking rejection at that point, Mr. Cilantro.
There's not a whole lot I would disagree with here (well I do have things to say about 1, 4, and 5 but I'll let them go for now). Yes I fully agree that for the most part the steps she has listed out here are things that need to be undertaken by men in order to work on the impression of male sexuality.

But do you notice something?

She goes from a general call for everyone to work towards changing our collective impression of male sexuality as dirty and negative to a list of steps for men to follow to work towards changing our collective impression of male sexuality as dirty and negative.

Now since men make up a part of the collective we that Alyssa speaks of that means there are going to be things that we have to do in order for this change to happen. It wouldn't be right for men to sit back and just wait for the change to happen. However at the same time doesn't this set up for women to sit back and just wait for the change to happen?

Its entirely possible that somewhere out there on the net Alyssa has a similar post with a list of steps for women to take or maybe she doesn't. Maybe she thinks that there are some exact things that women could be doing and just didn't list them? Who knows.

But one thing I do know. as far as this post at Good Men Project is concerned, is that as long as the calls for unity keep coming in the form of one sided steps and tips, it won't be much wonder that readers may be left with a bad taste in their mouth.

(Edit: When you get a chance head into the comments where Alyssa does address this.)

I went back to the comments today and found a pretty heartwarming comment. Commentor Shannon asks:

I loved this article. Although I do agree with most of the commenters that the second half of the article is a lot of what we’ve all heard a million times. And I get everyone’s frustration that the burden of dismantling “rape culture” (or whatever you want to call it) seems to be placed exclusively in men’s hands. I think this is bullshit.
I’m a female and here is my question: What can women do?
A lot of what is said in this post is a great start. (The parts about accepting and embracing men’s sexuality as healthy, non-predatory and non-scary)
I understand why sentiments like the ones expressed in the second half of the post are ill-received. It’s condescending, it trivializes the struggles that men face and the vast majority of men are decent guys who already know this stuff. I just feel like I rarely hear sound advice for how women can help. Its not sarcasm, it’s an honest question. Can we have a post about that?
I say we take the time to answer her. Let's be honest its not too often that women reach to men and actually ask for what we have to say so I say we jump on it.

What you guys? In the efforts to change the demonic, dirty, and nasty image that has been painted of male sexuality what can women do?