Why men are the sexual hunters and women are considered “keepers of sex” – and what can be done to address this imbalance

Pretty much anywhere you go, men are conceived as the “horndog gender.” Men are viewed as the ones who will always want sex more, who are always quicker to sexualize a relationship, to make things about sex. And this does create a bit of a problem, especially in heterosexual contexts. For men, what should be a simple interaction involving something women generally also want (sex) turns into a complex game of wooing and seduction – in fact, for this precise reason, “seduction communities” that pretty much cater exclusively to heterosexual men’s desires to be more confident and convincing around women, have sprung up everywhere. Men have to learn to walk an often-thin line around sex – or else risk being “friend-zoned,” marginalized, or even shunned.

Then there’s the other side of this: women very often face a reality in which sex is an annoyingly central marker of their existence. Everything a woman does is potentially sexualized, and thus, even when a woman does desire sex (often to the same degree or even more than men do), she has to take steps to make sure all the other things she desires are not completely left behind. So habits develop, on her end, of avoiding and/or withholding sex [yes, even when she desires it], because that’s often the only escape from this often suffocating paradigm of “woman-as-potential-sexual-object.” Thus the complex twists and turns and barriers to sexual interaction that understandably frustrate many heterosexual men – and can also frustrate a good number of women, too!

A short 3-minute film on Youtube called “why men and women can’t be friends” has been getting a lot of attention, because it focuses on this issue that never really does go away. You see guy after guy talk about how they can’t be “just friends” with a woman without having sexual feelings toward her, while every woman interviewed appears innocently unaware of any pressing “urge” to get sexual with her guy friends. Take a look…

The thing is, this unequal dynamic of sexual interaction is more than just a funny coincidence. It is in large part responsible – worldwide – for a dysfunctional sexual culture that promotes:

    • Persistent gender inequality, in numerous contexts;
    • Sexual untruths and deception, and thus unsafe sexual practices;
    • The growth of both “rape culture” against women and the often-hidden “all men are potential creepy perverts” doctrine;
    • Dangerous, senseless, and stupid norms about how men must act like “alpha males” and women have to avoid being “sluts” – norms that extend far beyond purely sexual realms of interaction;
    • All-around lowered senses of self-esteem, for both men and women;
    • Inability to talk openly, genuinely and intimately about sex – and following from that, a frightening inability to adequately educate the next generation of children so that they may make sound sexual decisions when the time comes.

That last point is very key; half of the battle is just being able to talk about sex! Elsewhere on this blog I’ve mentioned how the vulnerability involved in a sexual act frequently makes the question of having sex a very loaded one, especially for people who are used to hiding their vulnerability (which is a very common theme in more modern societies, as opposed to conservative, traditional ones). We often talk about sex as this sacred and incredibly pleasurable activity, and yet we put all kinds of obstacles to it, including:

    • Rules about covering up sexual parts of the body;
    • Language that avoids talking about sex directly by pretending to be ambiguous (e.g., “sleeping with” or “hooking up with” somebody, for example);
    • Traditions and belief systems that deeply restrict what kind of sex is permissible;
    • Innuendos that shame people for being openly sexual;
    • Taboos about talking to children about sex;
    • Laws governing sexual conduct in public and on television;
    • A very strong, persistent cultural bias towards monogamy;
    • An even stronger cultural bias against sexual interaction with a member of one’s family, even when both participants are mature, consenting, and of the same age.

There are plenty of reasons for these restrictions (here’s ten of those reasons, to start with). Sex is powerful – sometimes so powerful that we can get undesirably prone to losing control when entering a sexual space. Just observing sex can set off involuntary bodily responses and thought processes; have you ever had a meal in which one ingredient unintentionally seems to dominate, minimizing the other flavors the dish is supposed to have and cutting into your ability to enjoy its taste? That’s kind of what sex can be like, particularly when it is talked about, displayed, or shown off in a crass, uncontrolled manner. It can feel as though it cuts into many people’s ability to explore and enjoy other things – or even other aspects of physical interaction that may not be sexual. That’s a big reason why sexual openness can sometimes be hard to come by, and why appeals to avoid sexuality and restrict its public existence are often supported even by people who are actually not, in principle, afraid of sex itself.

It is a harmful mistake, however, to conclude that just because sex is so powerful means that we should continue to avoid talking about it. In fact, that’s exactly what we need to stop doing. This is what sex-positive thought is all about: how to embrace sexuality in a way that both permits us to explore it without shame and at the same time keeps things safe and stable, so we aren’t threatened and overwhelmed with things we aren’t ready for.

Through exploring sex with a sex-positive mindset, we can gain a sense of control and safety around its power, and then benefit from this power when we’re ready for it. Much in the same way that we have explored fire, water, and electricity and learned a sense of control over these things that has enabled us to take advantage of their powerful properties and minimize risks. There’s no reason this can’t be done with sex.

So – now that we’re thinking sex-positively, let’s break down why men and women seem to get so firmly shoehorned into their respective “sexual roles.”

Sexual consciousness and responsibility

Pretty much anywhere you go, in virtually every society… which gender carries the lion’s share of sexual consciousness, and thus responsibility? The same gender that is associated with carrying the possible offspring of heterosexual penetrative encounters, of course. Since the beginning of human history, no matter what society you look at, women have pretty much always been positioned by default as keepers of sex in particular because of this biological reality.

Not only do men not get pregnant – they don’t breastfeed, either. And before we mass-produced baby formula, plastic bottles, and cow’s milk for sale at the local supermarket, this was a mighty important fact – babies would not survive without breastfeeding. It’s really only been within the last hundred years, if that, that we have gained the scientific knowledge necessary to even begin to make the tiniest bend in this quite rigid reality. And, LGBT families notwithstanding, the role of woman-as-carrier-of-the-child is still quite firmly situated at the center of all social narrative about how families come to be. Despite awesome technological advances that are making new things possible, I don’t think this standard is gonna change anytime soon, even if it should – the exceptions to the rule just aren’t numerous enough yet.

This has also meant historically that when a man and woman would have intercourse for pleasure only, the woman would be far more exposed to the unwanted consequences (I would argue that, even with child support laws in certain countries acknowledged, it’s still a rather unparalleled sense of responsibility to be carrying a life around inside you, and to be restricted from activities like drinking, for example, or taking many medicines, because you might damage that future life). This once again heightens a woman’s sense of consciousness and responsibility – the act of sex leading to another life growing inside of your body and also radically changing how that body of yours functions is not a small consequence. Don’t forget, awareness about pregnancy and sexual health was never as widespread as it is today, and this come-and-get-it availability of contraceptive medicines, pregnancy tests, and even condoms and/or diaphragms used to be a rare luxury at best.

Remember also that before the most recent times, there was precious little history of feminist movements showing women how to take control and be self-sufficient, and you’ve got a situation where any choice regarding which man a heterosexual woman sleeps with was a monstrous one – it’s very possible she would literally be signing her life away. Please don’t forget, this history has helped to develop the habits our grandparents passed to our parents, which then passed to us – and sexually, one of those habits is to instill a much higher level of sexual consciousness in girls than in boys, as a result of everything I have just mentioned. This is where that frustrating inequality in sexual attitudes starts.

From sexual consciousness to sexual obsession

How many men do you know that worry obsessively about weighing too much, being too bony, whether they have wrinkles on their face, if they’re ugly, if their skin is too rough, imperfect, or loose, whether their makeup is on right, how their hair looks, whether their clothes match well, whether they are acting like a slut (“asking for it”), whether they are acting prudish, whether they smell bad, whether they have too much hair in certain places,… Sure, men will think about many of these things at times, and there do exist a few men who worry excessively about stuff like this – but the ongoing, sometimes lifelong obsession about such things is associated specifically with women.

Why? Because all across the world, it is an unspoken given that women’s primary markers of “womanhood” will be their sexuality and their ability to inspire attraction. This is not something that women are thought to have a “choice” to opt in or out of; it’s more thought of like a fact, one that is so a part of the way life works that it’s not even thought twice about: just as the sun is to rise and set every day, women shall present as beautiful, attractive beings. It’s the “natural order of things.”

There’s nothing wrong with an attractive woman, or an attractive man for that matter. What we are talking about here, however, is an invisible but always-there sense of expectation that beauty and attractiveness is what a woman does, point blank (this does not apply anywhere near as much to men; however, men have their own version of such things also in other areas of life, so stay tuned). Then there are the social norms about what counts as attractive – norms that individual women have no control over. Once you put ubiquitous sexualization of the female gender together with dogmatic beauty norms [about everything from flat stomachs to hairless body parts to “ladylike” kinds of behavior] it’s a sexual Molotov cocktail: All the stereotypically female obsessions over attractiveness and sexual projection stem from this reality of life lived under a set of expectations to be “attractive.”

This is true even in cultures with a rich history of feminist dialogue – the message still lurks in the background anyway: Big Brother is watching you – and judging you by how you present your sexuality in everything you do, from how you walk, to how you talk, to how you wear your hair and clothes, to how you laugh and eat and socialize and look at others. Even when sex is the last thing on your brain … it doesn’t matter. Your actions, as a woman, always have a possible sexual aspect attached to them, like it or not.

And one more thing, lest anybody get confused: that “Big Brother” I refer to can also very often appear in the form of “Big Sister.” It’s really not as simple as “male domination,” or “patriarchy”; there’s plenty of female-on-female sexism and sexual objectification going around also – something to which most women could quite quickly attest. Those women who judge other women by their conformity to the “standard model of attractiveness” ain’t doing it because men told them to do it. They’re doing it because the practice of judging women by sexual characteristics is a deeply embedded practice across all of society; men and women alike are equally socialized to engage in sexual judgment of women from the get-go – even if their goals in doing so may be very different.

Taming the beast

When your very existence as a female is so centrally tied to sexual presentation and standards of attraction, you tend to develop a great deal of awareness for all things sexual. Since there is no escape from this beast of sexualization, you might as well learn how to play with it as best as possible; learn to control this beast so you can make it work for you, and learn how to get out of its way when you want to avoid being trampled by it. And there you have it, men; that’s why women so often find themselves in the position of “keepers of sex.” Learning expert control of how to manipulate the beast of sexuality is a basic female life skill. Such “expert sexual consciousness” includes:

  • Knowing how to put on all the little signs and signals you can send to make yourself look cute, desirable, disinterested, approachable, horny, unavailable (i.e., lying about having a boyfriend), and so on – whatever sexual message your situation requires to nudge things in the right direction.
  • Getting really good at reading the signs that men (and other women) give off when they want sex – so that you can be prepared when the beast is going to rear its head through someone else.
  • How to better read your own sex drive, and channel it in such a way that you keep yourself safely away from the extremes (“prude” and “slut”). Show enough sexuality to get mouths watering, but not so much that the hounds come charging from every direction. This tightrope-walking act along the madonna/whore complex becomes so second-nature to many women that it can feel as automatic as breathing.

This is why there are no female seduction communities – female “life skills” include the art of seduction right from the very beginning (in addition to the art of avoiding seduction when you don’t want it, and everything in between). Of course, this does not at all mean that every woman has an expert’s grip on the vagaries of sexuality – on the contrary. The massive prevalence of female-associated insecurities about appearance and behavior is evidence enough of the constant, tremendous burden women shoulder in constantly having to keep up with the Miss Joneses out there. Even the ones that most look like they have it together – nay, often the ones who most look like they have it together – are very often still dissatisfied and lonely, longing for acceptance, despite their apparent “mastery” of feminine things.

I’m sure many of you men out there can relate to those feelings, eh? Your turn.

Now let’s talk about the men

Men don’t benefit from this sexually lopsided situation, either. The more a society puts the burden of sexual consciousness and responsibility solely on women, the more it is the case that the men have comparatively little understanding about how sexuality works, because they supposedly don’t need to – the women will take care of all that. All the different dimensions and contexts through which sexual energy flows – women know that this stuff is everywhere, through their gender socialization and experiences. The male version of such training and experience does a piss-poor job of explaining to men how sexuality works, which results in a sense of collective male aimlessness with regard to anything sexual beyond one’s most immediate needs and desires. No wonder many of these men feel the need to form seduction communities. Very often, the lack of sexual awareness among men is so pervasive that men can even be prone to internalizing it, which messes with their sense of self-empowerment (the “nice guys” know exactly what I’m talking about here, and I’m sure a lot of the “bad boys” do too if they stop and look at themselves honestly enough to see it).

Socially, when heterosexual men and women interact, they confront a familiar, pervasive pattern: lack of basic knowledge among the men of the existence of the zillions of sexual complexities the women are dealing with all the time. This creates a huge gulf in understanding about how sexuality plays out (and lest any of you men out there wonder, I’m totally not blaming this on you – you didn’t choose for things to be this way!). It’s no wonder so many men express bewilderment about how women are so “complicated.” About how it’s all so simple, right, so what’s the big deal?

Well… this society-driven male sexual ignorance is obviously a very big deal, since stereotypes thrive everywhere about men being:

  • Self-centered – only concerned about themselves. Not really listening for anything but that which can meet their immediate needs and desires.
  • Impatient – which goes hand-in-hand with the perceived self-centeredness and inability/lack of interest for seeing the wider context.
  • Perverted – as though men are the only gender that has sexual thoughts… please! The difference is that women are expected to have a very fine-tuned filter for their dirty thoughts – a filter that is constantly optimized and tweaked through everyday life experience with sexualization, so that it always becomes better and better. The male concept of a sexual filter tends to go something like “just don’t say or do anything that spoils your chances of getting laid.” Definitely not the same level of awareness of everything that could be perverted – but that doesn’t prove that women are actually any less perverted. Only that they are way better at hiding it, lest they be shamed as “sluts.”
  • Untrustworthy – the attributed self-centeredness teams up with impatience and a lack of an extensive sexual filter (poorly-controlled perversion), to yield an image of men as more potentially unreliable and less self-controlled in contexts of a sexual nature. Trust is very important in sex and romance – and men are very often thought [by both women and other men] to be untrustworthy by default when it comes to sexual responsibility until proven otherwise. A woman does not have to prove her innate trustworthiness by being married to a man and having kids (even though there are a ton of other things she must prove); a man alone, however, especially if he is significantly older than “student” age, is an automatic red flag: no wife, no kids, no domestic life ties? There must be something wrong with him, the popular thought goes.
  • Controlling – Lack of ability/desire to take sexual responsibility can often be seen as lack of self-control in a sexual context. Now, control is very important to society’s ideas about men – men are supposed to be “in control” (I will talk about this shortly), and most men desire that validation. But men’s unfamiliarity with the details of sexual energy relative to women puts them in a situation in which they are often not able to wield control through sex itself – thus some men are prone to using other kinds of control (physical, financial, psychological, etc.) to both make up for the relative lack of sexual control and to compel sex to happen even when the moment is not quite right (in actuality, women also use all these kinds of control also – but we are talking about stereotypes here, and it is specifically a stereotype of men that they will use other things to get sex, while the stereotype of women is one of using sex to get other things).
  • Impulsive – Since the stereotypical man’s world revolves around himself and his pursuits and hobbies only, it’s often thought that he will likely give less consideration to those around him – and nowhere does this appear more true than in sexual contexts, where his awareness of anything but his own wants is thought to be minuscule. Of course things are simple to such a stereotypical man – and thus he just goes forth based on his whims.
  • Dangerous – when impulsiveness mixes with controlling behavior, we are now talking sexual assault and rape. There’s a good bit of controversy out there among many men’s groups especially about whether 99% of all rapes are truly committed by men, as many statistics have stated; however, the fact is that the stereotype of what a rapist is always includes male gendering. No female ever becomes a “potential rapist” simply because she is a woman (she does, of course, become a potential rape victim, even though men are also raped – because she is indeed sexualized automatically based on being female. That’s where those unfortunate comments about “not dressing like a slut” come from, comments that are never addressed to men).

This “potential rapist” stereotype along with “perv,” “creep,” and other epithets referencing men’s overall poorer learning of sexual complexities deeply hurts and offends so many men. And if that isn’t enough, the fact that men are so often snubbed in terms of learning about sexuality [through society passing the buck to women to learn it all, and carry all the responsibility] leaves these men without a good sense of how to express this frustration. When they do speak out, they often do so in the ways they know – simple ways, because to them sexuality is supposed to be a simple thing. When they find themselves debating feminists, with a lifetime’s worth of accumulated analysis and experience with sexual complexity, there is a titanic mismatch in understanding, in the same way that a doctor with 30 years’ experience working in medicine day after day after day will see things very differently from somebody who goes to the doctor every so often for a checkup. The unrequited male sexual frustration that comes from feeling shut out and dismissed leads to another quite popular male stereotype: the resentful, entitled guy. The guy who gets to believing that “he’s done his part” to be good and nice and considerate, and that “he deserves (insert whatever romantic/sexual desire here)” – and gets mad when he doesn’t get the thing that he thinks he deserves.

These crude stereotypes may seem “laughably true” for only a certain kind of men – but all men are living, to some degree, under the yoke of them. And many of these resentful men I just spoke of feel this way because such a mismatch between belief and reality often hits so deep as to get them questioning their self-worth; they become lonely and isolated, falling deeper and deeper into an abyss of disconnect and doubt.

This is not a “just revenge” for a time before feminism when women were unilaterally oppressed, or anything like that. Rather, it’s a sad, pathetic, and harmful trend that is ruining relationships everywhere – and producing another generation of men whose frustration has no legitimate outlet, who will somehow find a very harmful outlet (like rape or murder) in much greater numbers than women; the more violent the crime, the higher the percentage is of men overall that commit it. That’s not testosterone talking at all; rather, it’s the predictable consequences of pervasive gender socialization, and men are not to blame for it – social expectation is.

When individual men do better than these stereotypes (which many of them fortunately do), it will be in spite of their male gender education, not because of it. And that education goes further than just denying men access to valuable socio-sexual information; it shoehorns them into dogmatic gendered expectations that only make all these problems worse. Just as women are incessantly judged against a preset, rigid sexual standard of beauty, men are also under tremendous constant pressure to live up to “what a man is supposed to be”: strong, stoic, in control, and well-endowed both in the wallet and in the pants. Not only are men supposed to hunt for sexual intimacy; they’re supposed to do so in the dark, with the odds often stacked against them – and they’re supposed not to tire out or become cranky about the process, even if they fail again and again – because, well, you know, real men are strong and stoic.

But a lot of men do get tired or cranky, and simply drop out after a while. They’re human beings, not machines. Men are far more into porn than women not due to biological issues, but rather these social ones. The constant expectation that the man will hunt for / initiate sex gets annoying and undesirable, and especially if a man isn’t able to find a secure partnership, porn often makes a convenient and easy substitute: no games to play, no feelings to have to consider or emotions to deal with (on either his or his partner’s side), no unexpected surprises … sometimes it’s nice when sex can be like this, simple and unfettered.

Women who masturbate alone know that this beauty in simplicity does not only apply to men – but for women, being the ones on the receiving end of the proposals for sex, there is no suffocating history of always having to take initiatives to procure sex. Instead, women are often in the position of trying to extract more out of sex – and not necessarily any huge commitment, either! You see, for women, since sex is always there, all around, it can become pretty boring and annoying when not accompanied by something more. Chocolate tastes good, but if you lived in a chocolate palace, where everything around you is made of chocolate, you’d probably wouldn’t want to be offered even more plain chocolate!

Thus men’s [stereotypical] desire to get “the most sex with the least amount of effort” runs headlong into women’s desire to extract a greater amount of context from a sexual encounter – one that will distinguish it from all the other millions of sexual and sexually-flavored interactions she has every day of her life. Neither desire is bad, or undeserving of being met. People who just want to get laid should be able to just get laid (which is why the male seduction groups exist). People who want to interact nonsexually should be able to do so without fear of reprisal (this is one of the main reasons that feminism is still very, very important).

It’s not a “battle of the sexes,” or anything like that; it’s more like a colossal, ongoing misunderstanding, that’s all.

On a personal level, how can we overcome these misunderstandings and get what we want?

Short answer? More understanding. More empathy. More active interest and consideration for the struggles that the other side goes through, and meeting them halfway.

Those I know who have had the best time navigating this minefield of sexual misunderstanding are those that have taken the time to understand what it’s like for the other side, and adjust accordingly. I know many women, for example, that will slowly open up sexually, talking comfortably about the issue (but without making any promises) so that the men they are with don’t have to feel ashamed of their sexual feelings. One woman I know who did webcam shows (no, I am not suggesting this, but keep reading!) noticed that, once the men she interacted with knew that it was ok to be sexual, they would often request innocent, non-sexual things from her – for example, one guy wanted to see her take a nap. It’s very relieving to a heterosexual man to be around a woman who can relax about the topic of sex, even if he does not actually get with her. Finally, you can stop “hunting” and let your guard down a bit! After all, once you can freely talk about sex in the open, it becomes a whole lot easier to ask for and find what you want generally – and when it comes to men, despite the stereotype of the male horndog, very often these men truly do want full intimacy, and not just sex; they long for it deep inside, but they are taught that sex is the gateway through which they must pass to get there, and when that gateway is unequivocally blocked, it’s discouraging.

And then there are the men who understand how they can be automatically stereotyped as threatening and closed up by the women they meet – and so they adjust; they speak softly, and from the heart, revealing deeper, more vulnerable things about themselves. They open up about their dreams and fears – which is a wonderful alternative to the stereotypical wooden male who is reluctant to share himself. And they LISTEN. They pay special attention to the woman they are with – for reasons above and beyond “getting laid” – so that the woman can feel comfortable and listened to. I’ll tell you hetero guys out there, many of those women that don’t automatically open up to the idea of sexual intimacy from the get-go simply want you to be considerate of their wants and needs. In the same way as there is tension around men’s sexual thoughts, women experience the same thing with regard to all the other factors of intimacy – and it’s so nice for a woman to not have to worry about whether she is obligated to have sex with a guy when he does something for her. If she does say yes to sexual intimacy, it will be a way more enthusiastic yes :-)

Buck the trends. Find out how you are stereotyped (everyone is somehow!) and offer something different. Something your love interest hasn’t seen before – something that will make them quitely realize that “aha, now you stand out.” In the context of this article, that means men learning much more about social sexuality in general, understanding the burden of mandatory female sexual responsibility, and willingly taking more of this responsibility on themselves; for women it means finding a way to create a space for sexuality that allows it to exist in the open, but does not smother everything else – a happy medium in which sexual things can be explored without fear of judgment or obligation on either side.

These things take a lot of time, and they are not solutions in and of themselves. Besides, everybody’s situation is different; it’s quite possible that many readers here may have quite different experiences in certain areas of sexuality than this social norm I am writing about. But this phenomenon – “men are the hunters, women are the keepers” – is definitely the main dividing line. It’s the main source of sexual fuel for all those magazines like Maxim and Cosmopolitan, all those romance novels, dating coaches and seminars, romantic comedies, TV shows, etc. etc. etc!!! It’s everywhere.

No matter who you are (even if you are queer, for example, and feel like you have nothing to do with this garbage), it’s good to recognize that this is one of the principal pillars of sexual groupthink pretty much anywhere in the world, in some form or another, and everybody’s thoughts are colored by it somehow. This recognition will help you sift through such groupthink with others, and forge a real, authentic connection – so that you can openly talk about what you want and get it, together. Because no matter who you are, you are affected by these social sexual norms in some way or another – often in ways you don’t even realize. Even if you rebel against heteronormativity – you still rebel “against” it, and thus you are still affected by it, otherwise there wouldn’t be any rebellion necessary. Sorry :-)

How about society-wide change?

Yeah, rebellion does get old after a while, doesn’t it? Sometimes it would be nice if the society itself could just change. But even though this sounds like a titanic request for pie in the sky, I do think that, on a general level, there are a great number of things that we can do on a social/political level. The most obvious thing is to oppose these suffocating, dogmatic stereotypes – ON BOTH SIDES of the issue, not just one.

  • Call out sexual shaming. Anytime, anywhere it happens. And point out this very important distinction: It’s not the sex itself that’s bad. Rather, it’s the taking advantage of someone / abuse / cheating / dishonesty / lack of consent / manipulation / exploitation etc. that’s bad.
  • Play the devil’s advocate when conversation gets unilaterally negative, and try to promote understanding. For example, when somebody cheats on someone else and everybody is talking about how stupid it is, try to turn the discussion more in the direction of “why,” casting the person who cheated (or whatever transgression applies) in a human light, rather than as a criminal. When sexual shame is reduced for one person, it is reduced for all, and the atmosphere around these inner desires we have lightens considerably.
  • If a person’s behavior is objectionable, do not shy away from dealing with it firmly – but always refrain from casting sexual desire itself in a bad light. Fight for a world in which there is nothing wrong associated with anybody wanting to get laid or wanting not to be sexual.
  • Support LGBT rights movements, for goodness sake! They have been confronting these issues head-on ever since they started; no matter how hetero you may be, LGBT rights movements are some of your greatest allies. Besides, who better to give you a great diversity of useful perspectives on sexuality than somebody whose mind works refreshingly differently from the huge blob of sexual normativity out there?
  • Do not bash feminism! Feminism is another very important movement in the quest for sexual liberation. Yes, we all know that there are some bad feminists out there who say some pretty wacky things. You know what? The same can be said of any movement that grows that big, be it environmentalism or Buddhism or lava artistry. :-) The fact that some feminists get things wrong does not mean that women should not be empowered! One of feminism’s big battlegrounds today especially in modern countries is for a woman’s right to do as she pleases without having sexual characteristics automatically attributed to her actions. That’s a very worthy thing to fight for, because in places where women are more empowered to choose how their sexuality manifests itself, they are less likely to say “no” when they mean “yes,” and vice versa. In other words, more female empowerment = less weird complexity about sex, and more straightforwardness and sureness about what one wants… hetero men, y’all hearing me?
  • Work for better male sexual consciousness. This is the other side of feminism – the thing that men can do to empower themselves alongside women’s empowerment. Because women aren’t the only ones who need empowerment! Thus… encourage the men in your life to take more of an interest, to become more conscious, about what makes sexuality tick, both in themselves and those around them. Encourage men to become more aware of the stereotypes that bind them, just as feminism has helped expose and combat things that hold back women. Encourage men to talk more about these things they face, so that the women they love and the feminists out there can have a better understanding that yes, men have issues too, and these issues are real and do not deserve to be ignored. Men must develop this collective consciousness of their own sexual struggles in order to move forward; feminism ain’t going to do it on their behalf, just the same way as men cannot be the leaders of a women’s movement for self-empowerment.
  • Emphasize our collective alliance in these struggles. Though our perspectives and problems are very different sometimes, remember: we’re all wrestling with the same beast – a beast of dogmas and expectations about what we are supposed to be and how we must behave, solely on account of our gender. Whether we see it or not, we are fighting the same fight:

So, folks… this has been a long discussion indeed! I hope it has shined some light on a much-misunderstood subject, and here’s wishing you the very best in all of your romantic and sexual interactions. If this subject is a difficult one for you, I have faith that it will get better for you once you get a broader understanding. Positive folks know that when you win, I win also. Remember that!! Anytime somebody says or does something hurtful, that shows their frustration and anger around these issues, remember, they most likely are looking for the exact same thing you are, in the end, even if they are doing it in the most misguided way. Remember that, and emphasize that as much as possible. Things will make a lot more sense.

It’s so easy to feel alone and misunderstood around issues of sexuality, especially when that broad, intimate understanding that we need is so often lacking. No wonder it can be hard to get what we want. But it can always be better, and the more we talk about these fears and demons and bring them out into the open, the more opportunities we have to make common cause and help each other find our way. So let’s get what we want together, and win together – and may no stereotype or dogma ever have the final word in your journey!

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11 Responses to Why men are the sexual hunters and women are considered “keepers of sex” – and what can be done to address this imbalance

  1. rubyryder says:

    I had so many moments of “whoa” while reading this article. Moments when the profundity of your words really struck me. This article is so rich with information – I will peruse it often and thoroughly. As a 54 year old woman who can so relate to social mores surrounding sexuality – it is going to take me a deliciously long time to digest all this. Excellent piece.

  2. This was a refreshing read. I would like to read more about a more balanced comparation of gender roles.
    Sex is just one aspect, but for ex, women are “supposed” to be home keepers and men are like, supposed to be bread winners and such things. I’d like to know what you have to say about those things.
    Thank you for a good post :)

    • Well, I think it’s a little easier outside of sex to imagine roles being reversed. They’re still there – but the presence of all kinds of modern movements and lifestyles is throwing up all kinds of wonderful alternatives also, giving people more choice (or more ability to see the choices available to them) to live as they wish to live.

      You’re welcome.

  3. This is by far the best article I’ve read on the subject. I will be sharing this far and wide…this is something that must soak into the collective consciousness if we are to consciously evolve past all of this.

  4. I loved this article up until… “Even if you rebel against heteronormativity – you still rebel “against” it, and thus you are still affected by it, otherwise there wouldn’t be any rebellion necessary.” Being queer or gay or lesbian has absolutely nothing to do with “rebelling” against heterosexuality, these are identities that exist on their own and have their own distinct gender dynamics that exist along with the culturally-forced heterosexual ones. When you define queerness as something that is existing only in comparison to heterosexuality, you promote the idea that heterosexuality is “normal” and that being LGBTQ is other than “normal.” This article gives extremely important insight into heterosexual relationships, and I think this insight should be shared. However instead of making simple generalizations about queer sexuality, you should do more research and listen to the insights of LGBTQ people who will have their own important knowledge and understanding on gender roles, knowledge that will give even more massive depth to your understanding of heterosexual relationships.

    • I don’t have much time to write here, but let me just say that I never implied in any way that being queer is an act of rebellion. What I was referring to was the thought process by which some people say “this doesn’t affect me” when in reality it does. Hetero folks do this all the time, also – but it is often a lot less obvious, because their sexuality is not constantly under scrutiny in the same way.

  5. Pingback: Why Men and Women Can’t Be Friends | Sexual Equalism

  6. omalone1 says:

    Reblogged this on nomasons and commented:
    came across this piece quite a while back, but it remained in my memory for a good reason. Although I imagine the author is neutral (“white”), when you consider ghetto patterns (i.e. the “Code of the Street” as highlighted by the likes of Elijah Anderson, Hare & HAre, et al), we might view this post as a significant contribution to our understanding of the dynamics of sexual politics that so dominate our patterns of relating to each other. (catch-breath)

    that SAID, enjoy.

  7. Pingback: What the heck does “positive” mean, anyway? Here are 22 ways I’ve come to understand “positivity” | Positive Juice

  8. Pingback: I am Not a Keeper of Sex | The Notes Which Do Not Fit

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