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Stop Shaming Men for Wanting Women

It’s very fashionable to malign the varying denizens of the “manosphere,” that odd amalgam of male sociopolitical interest groups that includes pickup artists (PUAs), men’s rights activists (MRAs), “men going their own way” (MGTOWs), and even involuntary celibates (“incels”). The manosphere label, however, can and has been extended to encompass literally any male who does not describe himself as a feminist or a progressive. At the very least, today’s modern, neutered “men” — I use the term with sarcasm — are expected practically to flagellate themselves daily for daring to be born with penises. In the great pyramid of victimhood, the “progressive stack” of competing, perpetually offended identities within popular culture, men (and particularly white men) occupy the very last tier. They are the intergalactic oppressors of all humanity, reviled and excoriated for their “privilege,” their alleged sexism and misogyny, their various politically motivated phobias, and a host of other imagined crimes.

Of late, one of the more popular means of condemning men for being born men, and of vilifying male sexuality for being, well, male sexuality, is to accuse the male half of the human species of a crime tantamount to rape for daring to — gasp — court or otherwise pursue a woman in whom a man has interest. No, we are told, means no, full stop, no discussion, no debate. If the issue at question is physical contact then, yes, most certainly, no means no. Another human being has no right to put hands on you, kiss you, or otherwise initiate physical contact without your consent. Setting aside the mess progressives have made of the idea of “consent” (it is utterly impractical and ridiculous to expect an explicit verbal go-ahead at every developing maneuver in a romantic liaison), this attitude eliminates from consideration any discussion, any persuasion, any flirting, any interplay… any fun.

What We’re Teaching Men and Boys

Take, for example, this portion of a viral social media exchange: “My teenage nephew told me he asked a girl out and she turned him down. I said, ‘You know what to do now, right?’ He said, ‘I know I know keep trying’ and I said ‘NO. LEAVE HER ALONE. She gave you an answer.’ He was shocked. NO ONE had told him that before. TEACH. YOUR. BOYS.”

From this we are meant to take that we are raising generation on generation of ravening, predatory boys who believe they are “entitled” to women’s bodies, who spend their days in a constant, flop-sweating state of almost-rape they are only barely holding at bay. But this story — and, honestly, I’ll take “Conversations That Never Happened” for 100, Alex — does represent what I would expect from a young man who was told that in this case, persistence doesn’t pay off. Rarely do we teach our children, “Hey, if it doesn’t work out immediately, the first time, give it up forever.” No wonder the [fictional] child in the story was “shocked.” If he existed, then no, he wouldn’t typically have been told that before, because in all other venues of life we teach our kids not to quit — to work for the things they want.

Each of us knows countless couples who did not necessarily like each other at first glance. Each of us can probably cite at least one couple whose parties were not on the same page when one of them tried enticing the other. I cant think of one couple in particular who danced back and forth, with one party essentially persuading the other to enter into the relationship, until it finally worked out. If we say, “No young man should ever attempt physical love with a woman who has told him no,” we would be correct. But if we take the attitude that no male-female interaction can ever move forward if the young lady tells the young man “no,” we abort countless very fulfilling relationships before they can begin. We leave those interactions stillborn because we are falsely equating attempting to persuade someone to your point of view with forcing them to agree.

Talking to a woman, expressing interest in a woman, sending her cards and flowers and engaging in broad romantic gestures in an attempt to win her over, is not sexual harassment. It is not sexual assault. It is not rape. It is a normal part of human courting rituals and ought to be respected as such. No, not all gestures of this type are accepted. Not all feelings, once expressed, are reciprocated. And for every man whose flowers were well received, whose romantic poems and notes were read with delight, whose boom box held aloft in the rain produced music heard by grudgingly receptive ears, there is another poor sap who has been terminally friendzoned, doomed forever to orbit the object of his affection with his love unrequited. This, too, is normal… except that modern progressive politics have turned it into something shameful.

Enter the Friendzone

If a man complains of being friendzoned, if he mopes about because his affections have not been reciprocated, if he becomes despondent because he asks a woman out and she says no (and that she “likes him as a friend”), we no longer tell him to keep trying. We no longer tell him there are “plenty of fish in the sea.” We no longer encourage him to persist and perhaps, through discussion and demonstration of his affection, to persuade the object of his affections that he might make a suitable prospect. No, now we tell him that “she already gave you an answer,” and then we accuse him of feeling “entitled to women’s bodies.”

If his streak of rejection persists, at the far end of that very wide spectrum, our marginalized male might even find himself a bitter MGTOW or a socially inept “incel.” Society at large, and progressives in particular, deride such men as “losers who can’t get laid” — hypocritically failing to realize that they are judging a man’s value by the very standard they’ve systematically tried to deny him. It’s wrong for a man to desire and to pursue a woman because that’s some manner of sexual harassment by modern standards… yet when he fails to find success with women, he is a loser with nothing to offer as a human being.

 

Even talking about a subject like this, even acknowledging that this dynamic exists, produces accusations of that type. This article will be met with comments accusing me of being bitter, of being some manner of misogynist, of being incapable of finding success with women. Yet that isn’t the point and it loses the plot of what we’re discussing: We live in an age when a man’s sexuality, by its very nature, is shamed as unacceptable.

Is it any wonder, then, that some men on the fringes of society go so far as to shoot and kill women who’ve rejected them? Is it really so unfathomable that the most embittered of incels rent vans and run down random people in their rage at a society that has left them behind? The reality of the social dynamic does not excuse those horrible crimes. The perpetrators can, should, and must be punished, as harshly as possible (and more harshly, likely, than the law will permit). But can we really slap our hands to our cheeks in Kevin McCallisterian incredulity? Can we really say we don’t understand why it is happening? The last thing any stable society can afford is to foster within it a large population of single males who have no hope, no prospects, of female companionship. Such a disenfranchised, increasingly bitter, increasingly frustrated population is a time bomb just waiting to go off… and we are the ones who planted the charges and set the timer.

When a woman bemoans being alone and expresses her desire to find someone, we treat these entries in Bridget Jones’ diary as the rightful and understandable musings of someone who has a very real desire for human contact. It is not natural for human beings to live solitary lives. Prisoners, confined to solitary confinement where they are safe from the depredations of their fellows, do not feel comforted by this security. They go mad from longing for human interaction, no matter how much this interaction risks. No less a monster than Jeffrey Dahmer pleaded to be allowed into the general population… and was promptly killed. Yet even that ghoul feared being alone so much that he was willing to risk his own wretched life.

The Unintended Consequences of Shaming Male Sexuality

All human beings become desperate for human contact when denied it. Human beings includes men. Yet when a man expresses this innate desire, when he reveals his affection for a woman, when he offers his hope that perhaps a relationship might be possible — or worse, he tries to persuade a woman to agree after she initially refuses his advances — he is condemned as a predator. He is told he feels “entitled” to her body. He is told that he is “harassing” her. He is made to feel shame for having this natural drive, this entirely human compulsion to spend some part of his life in the presence of and in proximity to another person.

If a man laments being “friendzoned,” it cannot be that he regrets that his affections are not shared and wishes this could be different. No, it must be that he feels he is owed something. Implied in the accusation is that, why, he’d probably try to take what he wanted by force if only he thought it could get away with it, the filthy misogynist.

Male sexuality is not a crime. Expressing desire for someone is not, in and of itself, a predatory act. Arguing the point when a woman refuses your advances is not a crime — provided you are not impolite in your persistence.  As long as we continue pretending male desire, the “male gaze,” and male sexuality are wrongs to be righted, evils to be stamped out, we will continue marginalizing a sizable portion of the male population. When we do that, we may still rightly be dismayed when the most marginalized among those fringe populations act out, even violently, against life sentences in solitary emotional confinement.

We cannot, however, pretend we didn’t see it coming.

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