Guest post: That stuff we consider being a “real man”

Originally a comment by Bruce Gorton on Through male eyes.

The problem I think isn’t a craving for sex. Nor is it necessarily misogyny, or at least not exactly what we think of as misogyny.

A lot of it is more about what we think about being male, than what we think about the role of women. We think of being male as being the fighter, being forceful, being willing to take charge.

So with the Catholics, they can try and eliminate any hint of sexual characteristics from women, and they end up… with a massive child rape scandal that spans the entire globe. Islam tries to do the same thing, as I’m sure you’re well aware, and the net result is… more of the same stuff.

The problem isn’t the sexual desire, it isn’t about women’s bodies, it is about what we as men have going on in our heads. It is that stuff we consider being a “real man”.

Sometimes you need those traits of being a fighter, being forceful, being willing to take charge, they aren’t inherently bad things, except what we’re taught to think of as winning is somebody else losing, and that means those traits are prized in a way where consent is not only devalued, it is seen as a negative.

If everyone wins, is it victory or is it a participation award?

President Jacob Zuma, a while back, argued in Parliament that because the ANC won the most votes, the ANC has more rights than everyone else. His view of democracy was as a means of winning those rights.

Is it any surprise that Jacob Zuma, the ANC and the country as a whole, have less than great histories regarding respecting consent? When your concept of political victory is you have more rights than everyone else, that, not anything really to do with women per se, is a problem.

What is our language around sex? Conquest. Conquest is a form of taking power that is not achieved through mutual consent. Leadership becomes dominance, and dominance is desirable because you don’t have to think about what other people want. “When you’re a star, they let you get away with it.”

When you’re a successful movie producer, when you’re a TV icon, when you’re a president, when you’re in charge and you’re a winner, you get more rights. It isn’t simply about how men view women, it is what happens when the way we’re taught to see everything gets applied to women.

But of course all of this is IMO, and maybe I’m crazy. I hope so, because actually solving the problem I’ve set forward is much harder than identifying it.

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