Note: at nearly 7000 words, this is hardly a post anymore: it’s a manifesto. As a rule of thumb, calculate half an hour to read this. You can also download it as a PDF, EPUB, or MOBI (Kindle format) for easier reading.
Let me introduce myself to new readers. Hey there. I’m Sophia. I’m a transgender person. I identify as a woman but I’ve lived as male for most of my life. I was socialised as male.
This gives me some interesting perspectives on some things. In the realm of feminism, for instance. I experience my own social conditioning as male — but I am also on the receiving end of some socially conditioned male actions and attitudes towards women. When that started happening to me, I can tell you, it was quite a shock.
I’ve worked for a long time on breaking down this social conditioning, even before I started to understand myself as female. I noticed how it sometimes made my relationships with the women I was attracted to problematic (I’m bisexual). Because of it, I acted unnatural; sometimes being pushy towards women and sometimes just making my own life harder than it needed to be in the realms of sex and romance.
I was involved in the Pick Up (PUA) scene for a while, back when I was still confused as heck. It encouraged some extremely sexist and negative attitudes towards women. But, in fact, I believe I was attracted to the scene in the first place because I felt something was wrong with how I dealt with relationships and I was looking for answers.
In some ways, I have found those answers by doing the exact opposite of what the Pick Up scene said. Well, it wasn’t quite so simple of course. But I did spend a lot of time doing introspection and self work. The results both improved my experience in relationships and just helped me feel more harmonious, more positive, more balanced. And perhaps more importantly, it stopped me doing things that were uncomfortable for those women I was attracted to.
(Trigger warning for this post: discussions of rape and the spectrum of sexualised violence).
Nowadays, I believe that the conditioning which I have been breaking down is the same thing as what feminists call “rape culture“. Rape culture is basically a set of ideas and conditioning. Mostly male conditioning.
Though not all men rape, all men have been brought up under rape culture. I believe that when the conditioning is strong enough, and when a man is disconnected enough from the balancing factors of compassion, common sense, and sensitivity, rape happens.
I see it in myself. I see that these negative patterns which I can identify in myself would lead to rape if they were stronger. I believe that this is the case for all people who were raised as male.
Rape exists on a spectrum; sexualised violence comes in small expressions, like catcalls and attempts to chat someone up; as well as medium expressions, such as different forms of sexual harrassment; only at the extreme end of this is rape. I think all of these expressions are a result of the same conditioning, which is why I think I can talk about rape and rape culture by examining my own conditioning and talking about conditioning on the same low level as mine.
On the lowest level, I think practically no male is free of sexualised violence against women (here we include things like objectifying women as “violence”). This means that anyone who was socialised male can deal with this issue by working on themselves. I think this can help us by preventing us from seeing rapists as just some unthinkable monsters. We can all take some responsibility for the violence women are subjected to. Once we have examined and ended these patterns in ourselves, we can then be good role models, creating new media and communication which doesn’t perpetuate the old patterns in others. So we all have the power to make a difference towards what women go through.
So here I intend to write an article about examining and fighting rape culture. But I want to write this most of all for people who were raised male (who for simplicity I will mostly just call men from now on, despite my own example showing that to be inaccurate). Consider it a self-help guide to ending rape culture.
By the way, let it not sound like I’m being high and mighty here. What I’m writing here is mostly all things which I worked out in my own quest to change my own social conditioning. Either they are what worked for me, or at the very least, they are what I have observed in myself. I want to offer them as tools for those who are doing the same as me.
Note that I will primarily talk about the relationships men have with women they are attracted to. If you are a saseat* man, however, I think a lot of this will be relevant for your relationships with men, too, especially if you take on a masculine role at least some of the time. This article will also have some relevance to saseat women if they take on masculine roles with their partners. In general, it will be relevant to men regardless of attraction and not so relevant to women regardless of attraction; but the fact that some queer folks take on roles that mirror straight relationships changes things a bit.
*saseat = same sex attraction, so a saseat man could be gay, bi, pan, etc.
Before I get into the meat of the article, though, I want to do a quick troubleshooting. What if you have an issue with the term “rape culture”? What if you itch to comment, “But men get raped too!”? Maybe my assertion that all men have a rapist inside of them upsets you?
First things first: I’m aiming this article at self-critical people. People who are willing to see the not-so nice parts of themselves and work to change them. I hold myself to that standard and I hope I can hold my readers to it, too.
That said, I know it’s not nice to be accused of being a rapist or a potential rapist, or to have your gender cast in a negative light.
So, let me just assure you: I’m not accusing you. I’m not judging you. I don’t want you to feel bad, or guilty. That’s not productive and I don’t think you somehow deserve it.
Just take a moment to feel unconditionally accepted. Imagine you just don’t have to hide anything from me. Imagine that I don’t care about your dirty secrets, your not-so-nice side, those times you thought of doing something bad, those times you really did do something bad. I see you for who you are, the beautiful person you are, and all that doesn’t matter. I accept you.
Now, with that as the context for everything else I say from now on, let me say this.
Men, as a whole, do rape women overwhelmingly much more than women ever rape men. About one in 5 women in Western countries have been raped, almost all by men. Those men who have been raped, were almost all raped by men, too.
Perhaps your female friends never told you. But rape is so common, so pervasive. Women have to deal with a sense of everyday danger which men just don’t have to. I say this as someone who experiences being perceived by strangers as female. I haven’t been raped, but I have seen enough of what men can do to get a taste of this pervasive sense of threat.
And I believe that male conditioning is the cause of almost all rape – 99% or more. And, as I said before, I believe that the same conditioning brings men to do things on a spectrum of levels of violence, with rape being just at the extreme end. On the other end are actions which are so subtle that most men don’t even realise they are doing them; subtle invasions of space, or privacy, or subtle reminders of the threat and privilege which men hold over women. Catcalls, attempts to “chat women up”, being a bit too insistent, being pushy, not taking “no” for an answer, making women feel objectified, taking up too much space, speaking too loudly.
Perhaps you don’t even see why some of these things are negative. As I said, it’s subtle. For catcalls, I’ll direct you to this comic which I think illustrates the experience perfectly. For the other things I’ve listed, I’ll let you think them over yourself; otherwise perhaps you can ask an aware, feminist-identified woman or two if she can explain her experience to you. (You can also read my article on feminism).
Now, female social conditioning has its negative side, too. And there is a whole load of social conditioning that is negative regardless of gender. I won’t deny any of that. But I do think that male social conditioning is particularly negative, especially because it sets people up to be victimisers rather than victims. Those who have social conditioning which affects others in this way have a particular responsibility to challenge themselves.
By now, I’m hoping we’re on the same page here. Male social conditioning needs to change. That’s not an attempt to throw around blame. It’s a call to admit responsibility for what you are responsible for, and to do what needs to be done.
That should probably be motivation enough. But the interesting thing is, that aside from stopping you from participating in acts on a spectrum of violence, breaking down rape culture helps make your life better.
By ending the conflict you have with the people you’re attracted to, you improve your relationships. They will be more harmonious. Your partners will trust you more, care for you more, and open up more. They will be able to be more secure in themselves (either because you support their security, or you just attract more secure people). And, might I add, you’ll get laid more.
How is that? In short: if you have social conditioning in you that makes you act negatively towards women, you’ll repel them.
OK, perhaps you’ll attract some women who have low self esteem. But if you have some compassion in you, you won’t want to do that – and so you’ll sabotage your own attempts to get laid.
I believe this is the hidden reason behind so-called “Nice Guy syndrome”.
The “Nice Guy syndrome” is a Seduction Community concept which explains that guys who act “too nice” don’t get laid. On the other hand, “Jerks” get laid, but act like assholes. The community usually advocates for some kind of middle ground.
Going deeper, though, I think “Nice Guys” don’t get laid because they think that they have to harm women to get laid. They might subconsciously think that their sexuality is ugly and dangerous… or they might only know patterns for taking sexuality from women in an aggressive way. Shrinking from that, they hide their sexuality, hide their interest. Naturally, they rarely get laid.
“Jerks” on the other hand feel this same conflict but consider getting laid more important than the wellbeing of women. They don’t hide their sexuality, which they subconsciously feel is ugly and dangerous. They don’t worry about their patterns which take sexuality from women in an aggressive way. So they get laid, and harm women.
If you are a “Nice Guy”, you can break free of that duality by changing your patterns which make you harm the women you are attracted to. Then, your compassion will no longer block you from getting into relationships.
On the other hand, if you were a “Jerk”, you can change your conditioning so that you can keep getting laid but stop harming women while you’re doing it.
(In reality, most people with this internal conflict oscillate between Nice Guy and Jerk or show a bit of both traits at the same time. But fixing your conditioning, in any case, will get rid of the negative traits of both).
So if that sounds interesting to you, read on. The points that follow should help you become a better person, change the world, and live a better life.
1. To end rape culture, we need to cultivate LGBT acceptance.
Learn to deeply accept – not just in your head but on a feeling level – saseat (homosexuality and bisexuality). When you understand yourself as potentially the receivers of your sexual treatment, I think it will feel more natural treat women in a more harmonious way.
Men are, on average, much more homophobic than women — and this homophobia is overwhelmingly much stronger towards saseat men than saseat women*. This is because men do not want the tables turned. Being treated by a man the way they treat a woman would be horrifying for them.
All this is unconscious of course – if it were conscious they would know how hypocritical they were being.
*I thought some people would want supporting evidence for that, so I did a Google search. According to this page, this long list of studies have made the observation that “men are more homophobic than women and have worse attitudes towards gay men than towards lesbians”: Larsen, Reed, & Hoffman, 1980; Young & Whertvine, 1982; Hong, 1983; Aguero, Bloch, & Byrne, 1984; Coles & Stokes, 1985; Braungart & Braungart, 1988; Clift, 1988; Schatman, 1989.
But if only straight men can learn to feel peace in their hearts towards saseat men, I believe they will have broken down a major pillar of rape culture. There will no longer be this instinctual fighting reaction against saseat male reminders of the way they treat women.
As well as that, by accepting transgender people and coming to see gender as a spectrum rather than a rigid binary, you can learn to see yourselves in women. This way you will learn that a woman is not just a woman but a person most of all. You will see that there is manhood in women and womanhood in men; and most of all you will be able to empathise, because you can see that what a woman enjoys or dislikes is not so very different from what you enjoy or dislike. Fancy that!
So there will be no more of that “women like to be submissive… women like men to be the leader”. You will come to feel and understand that humiliating, degrading, or pressuring a woman is just as horrible an act as if were done to you. And all of that subtler stuff – all that borderline stuff, the acts that feel wrong but it’s hard to put a finger on why – you will be able to distinguish that and avoid that. All this can happen if you can just put yourself in a woman’s shoes. And you can learn to do that if you accept the woman in you. No matter how small that aspect is, you have it.
And if you learn to accept the saseat in you, you break down the first barrier to accepting the woman in you.
Get to work on both of them.
Men, learn to see relationships as a mutual negotiation, not “you” getting what “you” want.
Our culture teaches men to “get the girl”. Movies have this message constantly. The man fights for the woman, until he finally gets her.
The trouble with this is that it doesn’t give any weight at all what the woman wants. It’s only the male desire which is shown to matter.
And in the real world, this doesn’t work. If we see our own desire as the only thing that matters, we either inflict varying degrees of harm on the objects of our desire – or they shun us.
Romantic and sexual interactions should be about SEEING if our desires are compatible with the other, and if they are, sharing in the joyful mutual fulfillment of our desires. It should not be about trying to get the other person to fulfill our desires. For one thing, it doesn’t work: either they want to or they don’t. For another thing, it’s harmful and incorrect to act as if you are the only one of the two who actually has desires and a free will.
So, don’t be pushy. Imagine what it would be like for a woman to push you around to get her sexual needs met. Initially you might be excited at the attention, but it would be not that much fun, in the end.
Trash the myth that women often say “no” when they mean “yes”. (Another Seduction Community favourite). And those women who are so immature to actually play that game? They deserve to go without until they smarten up and start taking responsibility for their sexual escapades. Have sex with women who say “yes” when they mean “yes”.
Not all consent needs to be communicated in a verbal “yes”, but it should still be unmistakable. If you’re not sure how a woman is feeling in any point in the process of you getting closer to each other, do what I do: ask her. “Is this okay?” “Are you feeling comfortable with this?”
Or if you’re working on the level of non-verbal communication, stop pushing your sexuality onto her for long enough to see if she returns your gestures naturally, or wants to move close to you naturally.
Unlike what I’ve read in some talk on rape, I do believe that non-verbal sexual communication works and can be non-violent. But for that to be the case, at no point should you do something that would be totally unwelcome to the person you like. So none of those kisses out of the blue like you see in movies. What you can do is progress from friendly touch and gestures of affection to something more than that, but you should only do that slowly, being really sure at each point that you are flowing with it, and that it is mutual, not just you pushing your sexuality onto her.
On the flip side, from what I’ve learnt about rapists, they are often so self-absorbed that they don’t even think about whether the woman they are with wants it too. Don’t be that person. Look for unmistakable consent.
And most of all, try to make her feel like she’s not being pushed around. Pushiness is violence, even if it’s not as extreme as rape. You should still avoid it. Aim to let women feel totally respected and in control of their bodies.
I was with a man once who came on to me very insistently. The thing is, I wanted it. And we ended up doing it. But I hated the feeling that he was pressuring me, trying to get something out of me, rather than engage in a mutual fulfillment of desires.
That was uncomfortable. Men, I think you can do better than this.
Now, to see relationships as a mutual negotiation, we need to get out there and communicate our desires. What stops men from doing so, normally, is largely a fear of rejection.
This is not helpful. Rejection isn’t this big bogeyman which will destroy all of our self worth. It should be seen as a positive thing! It’s a positive thing to find out that someone doesn’t want to share in sexuality with you. That’s because knowing, one way or another, is necessary. Would you really like to stick your dick in a woman without knowing if she wanted it? There’s a word for that, you know…
So what I see in myself and others is that we need to get comfortable both with communicating our desires and with the inevitable times we will learn that our desires aren’t compatible with those of others. But that’s okay, because we just keep looking. Right?
Actually, I think what makes men scared of rejection is this hidden, deep down fear that no woman actually wants to be with them.
In rape culture, women are expected not to have desires. After all, it’s the male desires that are supposed to matter. Female desire is painted as wrong – e.g. they are labelled as sluts – or ignored altogether.
The result of that is that men don’t get why women would find them attractive. And, because of this, getting laid becomes about convincing a woman to do what she doesn’t like to do, perhaps in exchange for “love” (which she is allowed to want) or something else. Being pushy and even raping a woman makes a little more sense in this twisted worldview – not much more sense but a little bit more. Because in the socially conditioned male mind, sex is never something women enjoy; it’s something women grudgingly give men, usually in return for something. Rape, then, would be like stealing a good, or not paying a restaurant bill; negative but not the soul-crushing invasion that it truly is.
Let’s face it, the sex instinct is strong. Priests rape children because their sexuality is so repressed towards everyone else. Sexuality needs to be expressed, will always find an outlet to be expressed. I would definitely call it a needrather than a want. (Asexual people notwithstanding).
So perhaps women can understand a little – just a little – the male panic towards the prospect of never getting what they need, never, ever, ever. Of course it’s not true that it’s so very impossible. But men, deep down, often don’t see it that way. They have been socialised to think women don’t want sex, will never give them sex unless they do something out of the ordinary.
What’s more, I think men feel rather victimised by this perceived state of affairs. I know I did. Sex seemed to be so potentially abundant, yet it was being withheld from me! With this mindset you feel almost justified in “stealing” sexuality for yourself.
The furthest I got down the spectrum of sexualised violence was to touch a woman’s butt, once, without her consent. I was a teenager going through a long period of sexual frustration, trying to finally lose my virginity, trying to finally get what I needed. At the time I was unable to feel any sort of remorse for my actions; it just felt like I was taking something that was unjustly withheld from me.
All this comes from the fact that ultimately, men do not feel like women will give them what they need just for being themselves.
There are a few solutions to this which I can think of:
a) Let men become more comfortable with their bisexual side, as mentioned above. When they are capable of understanding their own attractiveness, they will be able to understand how women can be attracted to them.
Straight women are able to look at other women and say that they are attractive. I assert that if you, as men, say things like “Is he attractive? I really can’t tell”, it is because you are so scared of your own bisexual side that you block out even the merest comprehension of male attractiveness. And if you can’t even understand how you can be attractive, how can you believe that women can find you attractive? More like, you’re going to project your rejection of the male body onto her.
b) Let us, as a society, make female expressions of sexuality “okay”. Let it be okay for women to demonstrate themselves to be as sexual as men. End this harmful myth that they want it so much less than men. Let it be as common to hear a woman say “he is hot, I would lay him” as for a man to say the same thing about a woman.
And men, stop seeing these things as abnormal. Understand that what is abnormal is for a woman to pretend she is not sexual.
c) Additionally, I think we, as a society, should see more sexualisation of men; if a bikini clad woman can sell a soft drink, so can a topless male hunk. While there are still some obvious issues with this, I think the double standard where only women are supposed to have sex appeal is incredibly harmful. Men could understand better that they are attractive if the media actually acknowledged that fact.
d) Finally, I think men should start thinking about how they can actually be more attractive. You, men, should think about clothes that express who you are and which look good. You should think about getting a nice hairstyle, maybe a scent, possibly even some light makeup (mascara on men can look hot). If you feel sexier that way, a little hair removal wouldn’t go amiss either – I shave my armpits because I like to and I can see how some men could feel the same. (I believe no one should be pressured into doing anything in particular with their hair, but I think it can be empowering to choose to remove hair if you genuinely want to).
As a person who is also attracted to men, I despair sometimes about the obvious negligence that goes into many men’s appearance. Some of them don’t make a special effort to not smell, even. I find this very unnattractive – not only the smell, but the attitude it expresses. If you don’t love your body, why should I?
Men are socialised with some strange internal conflicts. For example, there is the romantic idea of one perfect woman for the rest of your life, which comes into conflict with a different social script: the lay as many women as possible script.
I noticed the lay as many women as possible script when I was doing introspection on how I could clear out my own negative male conditioning. This script tells men that their self worth is based on how many women they have sex with. Not only their self worth depends on it – they are literally brought up to believe that this is what they want. They are discouraged to want stable relationships and simply expected to want to have sex with any and every moderately attractive woman who seems willing.
It helped me a lot to realise that I don’t want to be with every woman who is willing to have sex with me. It’s interesting; whenever I used to see a woman who was moderately attractive, within my age group, etc, I would start feeling inexplicably nervous, trying to think how I could steer her into having sex with me.
Of course, even with the best match for me I shouldn’t have wanted to steer her; I should have wanted to discover a joyful co-fulfillment of our compatible mutual desires.
But what’s interesting is that even with the best match for me, I feel that it helped to remember that I don’t want to be with every woman. When I remember that, my desire seems to come from a different place.
Just think a bit into the future and imagine what sort of relationship you’d have with that person. It makes a heck of a lot of sense to have stable sex partners (which can be no-strings-attached if necessary) instead of one-night-stands: you get more sex and waste less effort. Which means, of course, that you should enjoy being with a person apart from just in bed. It’s hard to just have sex and no other relationship with someone.
What’s more, if you get a bit more in tune with your sex drive, you’ll realise that it’s a lot more complex than this neanderthal fuck-and-discard mechanism which you’ve been conditioned to believe you have. Sex is often about more than just sex; it’s a lot to do with affection, for instance, with connection, and love. It’s to do with body contact and feeling at peace, validated, and accepted. It can be about giving another person pleasure. It can be satisfying without orgasm, or without penetration. Your desire for sex is actually a desire for a lot of things, not just what society tells you you are supposed to want.
I personally have a strong sex drive. But actually, I’m satisfied with relatively little sex. The rest can be made up with masturbation and bodily contact and affection. I obviously like to have lots of sex if I can get it, but I do find it interesting to note how little actual coitus I need to feel satisfied. (By the way, even though I’m psychologically female, I do have a male body and did have male hormones at the time of this writing, so I still think this observation could be useful for men).
Something I also noticed that was interesting was that sometimes I want something with someone, but not everything. For instance, I felt attraction towards a friend recently, but noticed that my desire – at least in that moment – was just for physical closeness, e.g. cuddling and such. My male conditioning might have made me think that I wanted “everything” with her if I hadn’t examined a bit closer.
All this, by the way, helps me feel less victimised by me not getting what I want. If I see that I don’t want sex with a woman, I’m no longer feeling victimised by her not wanting sex with me. And if I decide that there are many women in general I don’t want as partners, it also makes it easier to understand and accept that not all women want sex with me. It’s not that every woman is maliciously withholding sex; it’s just that most of us are trying to filter our experiences just a little.
As I mentioned, the lay as many women as possible script has a contradictory co-existence with another script: the one perfect woman for me forever script.
This script is popularised in movies and such, where we are supposed to have one perfect soul mate, destined to be with us forever, and men have to convince her of that and fight for her and win her.
The trouble with this is that it’s possessive, and, like I mentioned in point 2, it doesn’t take women’s desire into account at all. They are just the object to be “won”.
The other trouble with this is that it is so all-or-nothing. This idea that there can be only one person that is right for you for the rest of your life forever? Crap, that’s scary! This could lead you to be pretty pushy. After all, if you fail to get with her, you’re only going to have to deal with loneliness and sexual frustration forever.
I actually don’t believe in monogamy. I have a requirement in my relationships that both of us are to be free to be with whoever else they want, and so far that works perfectly for me. (In practice, I’m usually quite close to monogamous, but I believe the freedom itself makes all the difference).
I could argue that monogamy is an archaic social construct that has no actual meaning or value in itself. Indeed, I think non-monogamy is the future. I think monogamy, at least philosophical monogamy as opposed to situational monogamy, is intricately connected to all of the structures which I’m dealing with in this article.
But for this article I don’t have to push that point too hard. Right now I just want to bring attention to this idealised “monogamy culture”: this idea of one perfect person, for one person, forever.
I think anyone can see that this is not very practical or sensible. And I think that if we discard such idealised visions, and understand that every person has many people who could be compatible for them, we can make relationships less stressful, less pushy, less clingy, and overall less dysfunctional.
By the way, are you wondering how is it possible for a man to be simultaneously programmed to want to be with every woman and also just one perfect woman forever? The answer is that when things are unconscious, impossible combinations like that are possible.
The end result, when a man is fully possessed by both of these twisted social scripts, is this. He latches onto the first more-or-less-okay woman he can find, and acts like she is the one and only perfect woman for him forever. Then, when that doesn’t work out, he will eventually get over her, realise his mistake, and discover that some other woman – the first more-or-less-okay woman to cross his path at this point – is the one and only perfect woman for him forever.
Make this stuff conscious. When things are conscious it’s usually easier to notice we have the choice to do something else. Keep observing your negative patterns as much as possible, and when you feel you can, ditch them.
I’ve noticed that I tend to get extra nervous around people I’m attracted to – and in the past this has manifested in what I think were subtly pushy behaviours – because I think I have some sort of time limit.
I don’t know if all male-conditioned people have this issue, because I know I learnt it at least to a large extent in the Seduction Community. Seductionists tell you you need to avoid the “friend zone”, a mythical sexless place you get sent to if you spend too long in a connection with a woman without having sex.
Once I detected that pattern, I had to firmly tell myself, no, there is no “friend zone”.
While I don’t have much experience I can use to prove that with (most of my sexual relationships happened quite quickly, but then perhaps that was a result of my pattern?), somehow I have an instinct that this is just wrong. I know that time doesn’t matter; you can start engaging sexually with someone at any time, not just at the beginning of your connection.
The other subtly toxic implication of the concept of a “friend zone” is that you don’t care about whether she wants to be with you. Talk about “friend zones” always focuses on how to avoid the zone or how to get out of the zone. It never mentions that maybe you’re just friends with her because she wants to be just friends.
So screw “friend zones”. Sometimes someone just doesn’t want to be with you in that way, and that is okay. And sometimes maybe now is not the moment. Maybe they’re sick right now and not feeling too sexy. Perhaps you need a better setting to explore such things (one on one dates are better than group events, for example). And sometimes… get this… sexual (and romantic) connections can build over time. They can be built on a foundation of friendship. Or you can explore new things as your relationship slowly morphs and develops, as relationships do. Or sexuality can just take more than a few hours to happen because that’s how it is… shocking, I know!
What’s weird, looking back, is that I had the idea that sexuality would happen within the first couple of hours or so. Like a porn movie. What? How can you think that? How disconnected from reality can you get?
It can happen that fast, but usually it doesn’t, and if it doesn’t happen in 2 hours that doesn’t mean anything either way.
It’s helped me so much to change this thought pattern. I accept that things can happen in time (or not), and that is okay. That’s made me way more chilled out around those I’m attracted to.
Finally: be sex positive.
Sex positivity (often related to feminism, as in, “sex positive feminism”) is the radical philosophy that sex is good and that it can be a positive thing for people to enjoy.
Of course, this assumes female sexuality as well, so it is not just saying that men getting sex is good, it is saying that everyone’s sexuality is good. This means celebrating frequent, outspoken, unapologetic expressions of female sexuality (when, and only when, a woman chooses to make them).
But it also means celebrating male sexuality. It means being able to be outspokenly (but not invasively) sexual without fear of being called a pervert or a sexual predator. It means loving your sexuality, loving sharing it, loving the pleasure you give your partners. Being comfortable and unashamed about it.
Because often when a man talks about his sexuality it can upset people (sometimes for a good reason – because he’s being invasive. But other times not really for a good reason). I think it’s good to learn to not internalise that, and to be able to express your sexuality to others without being treated like you are some kind of predator. (Make sure you are not some kind of predator, though).
It also means not talking about your sexuality like you are some kind of predator. So when you talk with other men about a sexual experience, and they say something, “Yeahhh! Tap that ass!” – they are not being sex-positive. And neither are you, if you play their game rather than correcting them or ending the conversation.
Sex positivity means removing all of that negativity around sex and just being simple, positive, and open about it. Talking about sex like it was any other thing. Doing it (consensually) like it was any other thing. Having no shame about it, and projecting no shame about it on your partners.
How to achieve this mindset? I think the best way is to have sex-positive friends and frequent sex-positive spaces.
I’ve only recently began getting into that, but I’ve seen how powerful it is to be able to talk about sex or engage in sexual stuff with people and it just being normal. It’s so liberating, gets such a weight off your back. You can just be yourself and not feel like some sort of pervert or predator for having your desires.
Possible sex positive spaces to try out:
Some polyamory conventions, burlesque performances, sex parties, cuddle parties, play parties, Burning Man and similar alternative spaces, sex-positive discussion groups, etc. I also hear kink/BDSM is often very open and accepting about everyone’s desires, though I have pretty much no experience with that.
So these are some things which I’ve thought of in my quest to overcome my own Rape Culture / male social conditioning. I hope they have been useful to you.
I don’t think this is a definitive list. Perhaps at some point I’ll add to it or make a follow-up post. I can say, however, that by becoming conscious of these patterns and doing these things, I’ve changed my experience of relationships and potential relationships a LOT. So I think there is some real potential in them.
Do introspection too – use these points as a springboard into looking at your own patterns. The more you can become aware of them, the less hold they have over you. Dig deep, and peel off the layers of the onion one by one.
If you’ve never done this before, I think you’ll find yourself surprised at just how deep this goes. That said, I do think there is hope for anyone who works hard on themselves to overcome all this stuff and become a very gentle, emotionally intelligent, boundary-respecting person.
And once you do, please start teaching other men about how to be good men. There are so few role models. As you can imagine, there is a limit to how much I can do, seeing as I’m not a man myself. I can teach, but I can’t be a role model for men. We need more role models.
In the same way, I love to see role models for strong, powerful, brilliant women with great self-respect who change the world. Some movies and other media showing such figures have come out in recent years.
I think, few as these role models are, women are still ahead on this – on the matter of having role models for breaking down the socially constructed limitations of their gender. Men, not having oppression as a motivator for this process, have hardly started at all. They began to be allowed to wear long hair in the 60’s and then – pretty much nothing else happened for half a century. We can do better.
We need models for good men, nonviolent men, boundary-respecting, emotionally intelligent, non-homophobic, nonconformist men.
So become that. Become those role models, and start changing society through your example. We so need it.
May and June 2013