12 Oct Top 10 Myths About Male Sexuality
Via Psychology Today and Dr. Joe Kort, Ph.D.
My google alert for the broad term of “male sexuality” brings a wide range of articles and sites into my view. Most of them wind up being irrelevant or labeled as “male sexuality” simply because they’re chastising, mocking, or misapprehending what turns men on. So it’s not the most productive route for learning things. But sometimes, articles like this Psychology Today listicle show off some thoughtful discourse and mythbusting about how men get off.
While the information here is a little clinical, a little naive, and a lot heteronormative, it’s not bad intel. So I definitely wanted to share it with you guys. I think there’s a lot of good info in here that, while focused on male/female pairings, is still something to consider when thinking about your own penis life:
The Top Ten Myths About Men’s Sexuality
Posted Sep 30, 2016
In the last few years, there has been a growing movement among sex therapists and researchers to really understand men’s sexuality—not what it is “supposed to be,” but rather how it manifests, where its roots lie, and how to deal with the conflicts it presents, not only in therapy with men, but with couples too.
We’ve long recognized that women are pretty far ahead of men in terms of emotional access and vocabulary. Historically, we therapists have tried to help men catch up to women in this regard. This is important, but now we are beginning to ask how we can help women understand where their men are right now instead of waiting for them to catch up. So to help encourage this new emphasis, I have compiled a list of the top ten myths about men’s sexuality, and I’d like to offer some alternative views.
Myth 1. Men who have sex with other men are gay or bi
Not necessarily. We now know that many men are attracted to gay sex … but not to men. This is bound to confuse a lot of people, but as therapists we know much more today about men’s sexual fluidity. I’ve written extensively about it in my book, Is My Husband Gay or Bi? A Guide for Women Concerned About Their Men, but simply put, some men have no desire whatsoever to be connected with gay culture, and sincerely consider themselves to not be gay or bisexual. However, they find themselves erotically moved by the idea, or sometimes the practice of, seeking out other men with whom to have sex. It’s not that unusual, and it deserves more exploration that I can offer here.
2. Bisexual men cheat
Absolutely false. Bisexual men can commit equally as much as any straight man or woman out there. The myth is that bi men can’t make up their mind, and therefore are prone to cheating. This is like saying that a straight man who is sexually attracted to redheads and brunettes, but who decides to marry a brunette will slip out to have sex with a redhead whenever he can! In our culture, many people think that bisexuality is just a gateway to homosexuality, but it is not. It is a legitimate sexual orientation. It is true that some gay men think at first that they are bisexual, but I believe this is largely due to the cultural taboo against being gay. Further proof: Some bi men won’t admit their sexual orientation to women in whom they are interested, even though they would never cheat on them, because they fear that the woman would not be able to commit to them in relationship if they came clean about their fantasy life. Research bears this out.
3. Men are too focused on sex
Men and women have different ways of expressing their attachment to each other. In general, women express their attachment through relationship. Men do so through sex. Research reveals that we generally stop touching boys when they reach the age of 8, and we teach them to reject access to feelings, emotions and emotional vocabulary because these are deemed “too feminine.” So they end up mostly being able to express themselves through sex, violence, sports, or work. Therapists need to help men deconstruct what they are seeking in sex into emotional and attachment language, help them discover a nonsexual narrative about what they really want, such as closeness. He wants this but doesn’t know how to get his needs met in any other way besides sex.
4. Men who watch porn become obsessed with it and then prefer it over sex with their wives
David Ley has written a great, well researched, and humorous book about this, called Ethical Porn for Dicks: A Man’s Guide to Responsible Viewing Pleasure. He cites research clearly showing that it’s apples to oranges—men enjoy both porn and sex with their partners, and don’t replace one with the other. Period.
5. If a man wants anal sex it means he is gay or bisexual
A lot of people think this. But a man’s anus doesn’t have a sexual orientation, it just knows it enjoys pleasure. Our culture has decided that receiving anal sex equates to being gay, but “gay” is more than just a behavior. It’s not about what you do sexually, it’s about who you love, an identity. This would be like saying that gay men who don’t like anal sex are really straight, but don’t know it yet, and their butt will have to tell them at some point. Can you imagine that conversation? “I have something to tell you … I’m straight.” Fritz Klein has written a seminal book on this subject: The Bisexual Option.
6. It’s pathological if a man wants a lot of sex
Ridiculous. It’s no more pathological than when women want a lot of romance. Sex is his love language. Women are rarely pathologized for wanting romance. But that’s what we judge men. Instead of saying “She just doesn’t want it as much as you,” he gets “Something is wrong with you.”
7. Sex addiction is an official diagnosis
No, it is not. I’ve had women come into my practice saying “I’d rather my husband be a sex addict than a pervert” (meaning he is having sexual fantasies that she or the therapist doesn’t agree with or understand). So the therapist will mislabel a client as a sex addict who comes in struggling with his fantasies out of a lack of understanding of what is healthy for him. “Sex Addiction” as a diagnoses does not exist in the DSM-5 because, in spite of claims to the contrary, there is no research to support its existence.
8. If a man can’t get or loses his erection it means he is not into his partner
This is a really common misunderstanding among women. They take these things personally, and it is difficult to get some women to understand that, for the most part, it has nothing to do with her. He may have lost his erotic focus for numerous reasons—drinking too much; thinking too much about his work or finances; his age; healthproblems; or he may even have untreated sexual-abuse issues. The bigger deal the couple makes of his trouble, the more likely it’s going to remain a problem. The therapist’s job is to lessen the anxiety about this, and assess why he lost his ability to maintain an erection.
9. Men who have kinky fantasies will always want to act upon them
Not true. They might want to, but that doesn’t mean it is mandatory for them or that they can’t control themselves. Women can be kinky too, though men tend to be kinkier because they’re allowed to explore their sexuality in ways that women haven’t been. Women may be more advanced around emotionality, but men more around sexuality. The guy might say I have kinky (non-normative) fantasies, and the wife and therapist misinterpret this as him being out of control, when in fact such fantasies are simply normal for him. The therapist’s job is to normalize and educate the couple, help them understand the very wide range that constitutes sexual health. Michael Bader has a good book on this: Male Sexuality: Why Women Don’t Understand It … and Men Don’t Either.
10. Watching porn can make men want to cheat on their spouses
The truth is watching porn can prevent men from cheating on spouses, and even reduce violence in certain cultures and communities. Sex therapist Michael Aaron recently published an insightful article about this research on Psychology Today’s website. Many men who come to my practice report they watch porn because they have higher sex drive than their partner, and the porn satisfies them so they don’t have to pressure a partner. If they feel like they want to enact a sexual fantasy, just watching porn does the trick rather than seeking it out in the real world.
I am teaching more about male sexuality around the country and online classes. I want to challenge genderbias against men and stop the shaming. Helping men and women understand the landscape of male sexuality reduced the amount of conflict in their relationships in my experience as a therapist.
I’m pretty on board with almost all of that. I’d love to hear what this guy has to say in person, so I’m gonna see when he’s coming to my neck of the woods to talk about gender bias.