Acceptance

Regular readers will know that I’ve been struggling with ideas of male sexuality for several weeks now (new readers may wish to read my thoughts here and here). Searching on the ‘Net, I was able to find only a very few pages discussing this topic. They were all Tantric in focus. I am not, myself, a fan of Tantra as a philosophy (as I have in encountered it among such authors as Margo Anand and David Deida). The reasons why would make a good future post, but I’ll just say briefly that the tantric understanding of masculine and feminine roles, while probably the best conception available within a patriarchal mindset, are still part of a patriarchal and essentialist construct. However, I do think this article on Tantra and the healing of male sexuality made some interesting points, one of which is germane to my trilemma.

A man’s fear of women’s control affects how willing he is to surrender to women’s sexual power. His unconscious fear of women’s inexhaustible sexual power confronts him with his vulnerability, especially if he fails to meet his own expectations as a sexual performer…unless a man learns to transmute his energy before he ejaculates, once he “cums” he is gone. His energy and his interest in his partner are gone.

She has hit on one of the major differences between male and female sexuality, I think (I hope my female readers will correct me if I err in my statements on female sexuality). I have never gotten the feeling from any of my female lovers that they experience the type of emotional drop that I do after ejaculation. In fact, I liken the experience to depression.

When I suffered from depressions, during the depression it was impossible for me to think of feeling any other way. Depression was the natural state for me at those times, and I could hardly conceive of wanting to do anything. Conversely, when I was not in a depression, it was impossible for me to even really remember those feelings of extreme apathy. So it is with the post-ejaculation mood swing. One moment, I’m full of energy and passion and desire, and then…nothing. The sexual glamour has receded from my partner, sex seems uninteresting to me, I feel not only physically, but emotionally exhausted. There is also a desire to be close to my partner, though, a small feeling of…bonding, for lack of a better word. I think this has to do with the sense of surrender that ejaculating inside a lover gives me, as if I am emptying myself into her, dying in her arms.

This sudden mood drop highlights, I think, female sexual power. It really does seem inexhaustible, as if I could give myself to a woman over and over until there was absolutely nothing left and I would never recover, and she could still be sexual. So yes, that’s a source of some of the fear and sense of inferiority; this tantrika is on the mark here.

I think one way men have tried to deal with this feeling of inadequacy was to use social controls to balance things out. Hence, complementarian ideas. One of the most pervasive – and, for men, one of the most destructive – expressions of this is the identity of men as providers. I remember, as I was growing up, many statements from my stepfather making it clear to me that my role, my destiny, was to work hard to provide for women who could not do so themselves. I also recall watching a sermon by a televangelist once that illustrates this attitude perfectly; he said something like, “And now I want to speak to the men here. If you are able to work, and you aren’t working, you are not worth the cost of the bullet you deserve.” Notice the conflation of male worth with work. Note also that these ideas come from some feminists, too.

Now, there is a certain nobility in this vision, its true; masculine noblesse oblige, with the strong, sacrificing men enduring for the delicate womenfolk. But in recent decades we have seen, I think, that women can take care of themselves, and so there’s this feeling among men, myself included, of being disposable, unnecessary, contributing nothing of value as men. I think both men and women need to let go this notion of men as providers, just as we need to let go the image of women as maternal. The entire connection of fatherhood and motherhood with raising children needs to be severed, I think. The first is a biological role; the second is a human activity which is not inherently dependent on being of one sex or the other. Men have obtained a measure of social power and importance from their role as workers, but it’s also a prison which prevents true relationships with their families, or a life outside toil. Giving that role up may be hard, but it is, I think, a step towards freedom.

And this brings us back to facing squarely female sexual power.

A conversation with a friend the other day led to an understanding of the necessity of acceptance. I am starting to believe that this question cannot be resolved in a way that is “safe”. Facing the question of the male biological role, I cannot rework nature to generate equality where it does not exist. I can only accept the situation for what it is, enduring my own feelings of inadequacy and insignificance, and slowly build up a conception of a masculine sexuality that does not evoke those feelings from that place of emotional smallness. I have been trying to come up with a new way of looking at heterosexuality that solved the issues I’ve had without really accepting those fears and frustrations, and it’s not working. The only way past this, it seems, is through it.

So, I suppose it’s a bit of a step forward to stop my struggling and give in to the reality of the situation, although I’m left feeling very small, very vulnerable and fragile. The thought of being with a woman no longer feels me with shame and fear, but I’m also a little tender. I’ve had similar feelings before, as my studies of feminism have led me to give up things that I thought were integral to my identity. The feeling is very much like ripping off an old scab – a brief time of pain, even grief, and then a feeling of a load lightening, but also a sense of vulnerability, of not knowing what to do next. And then, weeks after, you realize that that feeling is mostly gone, that some sort of healing has taken place so gradually you weren’t really aware of it. I’m hopeful that, in time, this grief and vulnerability and sense of inferiority will heal into a new, strong, confident understanding of my sexual identity.

Addendum:  With regards to male identity as worker and provider, see these two excellent posts by my friend LindaBeth.

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~ by arkhilokhus on April 30, 2008.

6 Responses to “Acceptance”

  1. If it helps i’m female and experience the same post-orgasmic chill. If i’m not too fussed about my partner it just makes me want to get away from them.

  2. Helen,

    Welcome. I do find that interesting; I had assumed my response was just a natural part of being male, but maybe it’s something else! If you don’t mind sharing a little more, how does it feel to you? For me, it’s not exactly sudden, but I can feel my arousal draining away over several seconds. And, you know, I can get back in the mood (if I resist the urge to fall asleep!), but as I get older it takes longer and longer.

  3. I really don’t think I’m introducing anything new here but I have a thought about the fear that men have of female sexual power that I want to flesh out.

    It seems to me that this fear comes from vulnerability and what someone else may do in reaction to that vulnerability.

    For instance a small petite woman taking a martial arts class with people two and three times her size may be afraid of the fact that due to her small size those larger people will do to her. Will they try to show her that there is no need to worry? Will take advantage of it and try to bully her or even worse seriously attack her (perhaps even outside of class).

    By the same token the fact that a man’s sexual power is for the most part nowhere near a woman’s creates leads to wondering what she will once he reaches his limit. Will she accept his vulnerability for what it is or will she make fun of it (which seems to be the common thing for women these days).

    This blog is pretty interesting. Not full of the blame game stuff you see on most feminist and MRA sites.

  4. Hi Danny,

    Welcome, and thanks for the kind words. I’m consciously trying to chart a course between the Scylla and Charbydis of pro-feminist men and MRAs, neither of which really speak to me. I hope you’ll continue to find my attempts to do so interesting.

    You bring up a good about vulnerability, although I’ve not had the experience of a woman making fun of my sexuality. I think women who do should be asked whether they love male sexuality, as it is, or the image of male sexuality that has been sold to both men and women in our society.

    And that suggests a deeper vulnerability, doesn’t it? I mean, if you know that you’re vulnerable while in a woman’s arms, then you have to be careful about whom you choose to sleep with. And that feeling of dependency, of having your well-being rest on another person’s understanding and generosity, that can rankle, too.

  5. You have a fascinating perspective on gender expectations and on male vs. female sexuality. I’m adding you to my blogroll, if you don’t mind.

    Some of the ideas you’ve discussed in this post (and elsewhere), are things I’ve portrayed in my first novel. If you have time, I’d like you to read this scene (all the way to the end). I’d be curious to have your reaction and feedback. Also, regarding your earlier post on self-love, I’ve touched on feeling bad about masturbation partially out of fear of inadequacy/inferiority in the scene on page 43 and 44.

  6. Hi Chanson!

    No, I don’t mind at all. Just the opposite. =)

    And I’ll be sure to take a look at those links.

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