As a young female, I was exposed to a myth, a generalisation that caused me to suffer a great deal of insecurity, confusion and upset. At one time or another, you will probably have been exposed to this myth too. I am talking about the idea that men always want sex. The belief that the penis controls the man and that as the owner of said penis, he will no doubt be thinking about sex at least once every seven seconds and checking out every woman he meets. As a female, I was first exposed to this myth in my teens when parental figures sat me down for ‘The chat’.
“Boys are only after one thing”
“You know, you can wait if you want to. Don’t allow any boy to pressure you into doing anything you are uncomfortable with”
(The latter is sound advice and it should apply to both sexes, but I do wonder if young males are given this same speech.)
This stereotype is passed down to young adults and it teaches us early on that men are generally the aggressors, the ones who need more than you, the female, should be prepared to give. It even implies that men, in their desire for sex, will not care much about consequences or even the female involved (If someone cares for you, they would not force you into anything). It tells females that we need to be the ‘smart’ ones, ensuring we give our ‘power’ to the ‘right’ guy, the guy who earns it or deserves it.
As a teenager, I would soak in the information passed through peer groups and media, from gossip about what “That Slut” got up to with “Those boys” at the weekend, to magazines overloading me with their latest ‘foolproof’ sex tips, guaranteed to blow his mind. As a young adult, you can begin to believe that your power as a female lies between your legs. That to give it away is cheap but a simple click of your fingers (Or a suggestive glance in his direction) and his pants will fall off, because no man can resist sex if the packaging is attractive enough, or it is offered up in the correct way.
“Boys will be boys”, after all.
It isn’t just females who grow up under the influence of this stereotype. Some men grow up believing that if they are anything less that animalistic in their passions for sex, then they are less of a man. No longer the “player”, they face ridicule from peers and may even find that their masculinity or sexual orientation is called into question, should they turn down an opportunity for sex.
I have little doubt that at one time or another, you would have heard some of the following, throwaway comments, often posed in the form of a joke, or banter, but sometimes even offered up as relationship advice:
“Just give him a blowjob. No man can say no to a blow job, trust me”
“So wait, that woman wanted sex with you and you said no? What the hell is wrong with you man?”
“Boys will be boys”
“Men think with their cocks”
“He cheated on you? Well, he’s a man, what do you expect?”
“If you really want to apologise to him, you could try giving him head. He will forgive anything!”
“You are getting married dude? Well, say goodbye to your sex life”
“Is he gay? Look at you, you are stunning. How could he not want to fuck you?”
(The last one particularly annoys me, because it manages to offend both males and females at the same time. It not only attacks his sexuality, but it also says that your sole desirability as a female lies specifically in your physical appearance and that only those females who are physically attractive are worthy of intimacy).
The truth is that men do not always want sex. It’s a myth. The male sex drive, just like the female sex drive, is not only variable from man to man, but it can even change week to week. Factors such as stress, tiredness, illness, medication and simply not being in the mood are valid and very real reasons that men turn down sex. Yep, men turn down sex for the same reasons as females.
I tend to peruse sex related forums on the internet and it is obvious that women today feel much more able to express their sexuality. Gone are the days when sex was seen as a “wifely duty”, instead there are more females becoming the aggressors, closing the gap on males with regards to libido, experimentation and seeking out their own pleasure, which is great. However, there seems to be a flip side to this, as I see more women reporting dissatisfaction with the amount of sex they are having with a partner. What saddens me though is that these females blame themselves (Am I not enough for him? Do I not turn him on any more?), which I believe it is due in part, to the myth that all men want sex always and cannot resist it when offered.
After all, if we believe that men want sex all the time, what happens to the confidence and self esteem of the woman who has just been turned down by her lover?
This was the story of my life. During the first ten years that I was sexually active, I became stuck in a repeated cycle that replayed in three of my long term relationships. Each relationship began with us both having rampant, regular sex, but as this honeymoon period passed and his libido would inevitably settle, I found myself getting turned down. I would often lay there beside my partner, wondering why he had not even glanced in my direction, instead devoting his evening to the computer game he was playing. It would eat me up inside. I felt like I wasn’t sexy enough, wasn’t good enough any more. Gradually, resentment would build inside me. It did not make sense. He was a man after all and I believed in the myth. Maybe I had chosen the wrong man. Maybe he was just a boy who put X Y and Z above shagging my brains out.
And so these young women, women like me, grow up believing that they repel the very man that loves them dearly and it causes them to feel insecurity, even shame. Men grow up with this insurmountable burden to perform, to be “The Man” or to be insulted or mocked should they decide not to be a Lothario. They may also be left wondering why their woman feels so upset about being turned down. What an awful lot of pressure and insecurity we push onto our young adults.
Now, it probably goes without saying that you will run into the occasional man (or woman) who is ‘all about the sex’ but please understand that this is an extreme. Everyone is different after all. The opposite end of this extreme would be asexuality and most people’s sex drive will fit somewhere in the shades of grey in between. I finally understood that I had been sold a lie, that men, in general, are not any more, or any less sexual than females are. This knowledge alone helped me move forward into a secure and loving relationship with a man who does occasionally turn me down, but now I understand he is not rejecting me, or my love, nor is he going off me. It is actually extremely common for couples in long term relationships to discover they have mismatched sex drives. I think it is important, should you find yourself in this situation and feel upset, to communicate your thoughts and fears with your partner and to work towards a compromise that works for you both. Don’t allow those resentments to build by keeping it all inside. Ladies, if you have a happy relationship otherwise and he tells you that he loves you, believe him.
The truth is that sometimes, men DO just want the odd night to play on their Xbox.