I am truly not certain why this is such a hard one. CONSENT means that a person actively gives you permission to invade a part of their body, their home, their life. Consent is not a new idea. It is not a new concept. Yet for some reason, there are men in this world (and yes predatory women as well) that simply have no ability to understand how consent works, especially when dealing in the area of sexual relations.
Harvey Weinstein notwithstanding, it is important that we do examine how our culture, our music, our movies and TV shows, adds to the devaluing and objectification of women. This is what has been termed our “rapey” culture. The world is supposed to be moving forward in valuing the individual. Unfortunately, what the sexual harassment, and rape, scandals have brought out, is that there is an undercurrent, a type of sickness, if you will, that permeates this need to devalue another person in order to prop oneself up, and exhibit power. It is a self-indulgent, selfish need. And it is unleashed without restraint, and without guilt.
The problem here is that even when some men try to understand the issue of consent, sexual harassment, and predatory behavior, they get it all wrong, like David Brooks just did in his latest New York Times column. He creates a difference between pleasure seeker versus predator in order to…I have no idea what he was trying to relay to his readers. He came off sounding idiotic. He came off sounding like he was making an excuse for the old “boys will be boys,” crap. This is toxic masculinity.
He says there are some men, when they hit a certain age, that forget the idea of “love,” which is what we are taught from birth. That the love quotient goes out the window when males hit adolescence. It becomes all about pleasure. As if girls when they hit adolescence aren’t interested in the same pleasure. Seriously, in which century does Brooks live his life?
Brooks quantifies different types of “rooms,” as he puts it. There is a difference between the man simply looking for sex, aka the pleasure syndrome, and the predator. Now granted, men want sex. But then so do women. It’s not unhealthy to want sex and enjoy sex. It’s not the idea of wanting sex that is wrong. It is the idea that being male, makes it ok how you go about getting the sex.
If you consider the person before you devoid of humanity, devoid of personhood, and they are only there for your pleasure, then you are toxic. It is not an ok “room.” And sorry being a pleasure seeker is not that far off from predator, when you decide that you are entitled to someone else’s body without seeing the human being before you.
Here is a simple lesson plan when it comes to wanting sex from another human being:
Learn to understand the meaning of the word,”no.”
Learn that power does not entitle you to someone else’s person.
Learn that it is not ok to decide that your pleasure is more important than another person’s humanity.
By the way there is a difference between being a man, and toxic masculinity. A man works hard, raises a family, follows the law, respects, honors, and cherishes the world around him. Toxic masculinity is when you decide you are entitled to something simply because you have a penis, END STOP.
Yes “toxic masculinity” is a term coined by feminists. And while for most in society, feminism has gotten a bad name (unfortunately), that doesn’t mean we ignore relevant points. So when some complain that feminism destroys masculine men, the answer is, “no it does not.” Feminism simply demands of men that they be better than our “rapey” culture requires them to be. It’s a challenge for certain. But one that a “real man” could accomplish.
Meanwhile, I left this comment on the Brooks article (it has not been posted):
40 years ago when I was in college, I went away to an intellectual retreat that included young men my age, I overheard a group of them calling me frigid and a tease because even though I would talk with them, discuss things with them, there was no way I was going to f**k any of them. They felt it was their right to get into my pants simply because they talked to me. Sadly, this culture of toxic masculinity still permeates our country.
We live in a culture with a music industry that praises male entitlement to a woman’s body. Women are objectified in movies and TV. It is rare to see a strong woman who isn’t a bitch. This is why the movie Wonder Woman resonated not only in the US, but globally.
Brooks can think that all of a sudden men have devolved. Well they haven’t, its the same as it always was, men just aren’t pretending anymore. Today’s society is simply perpetuating the culture that gave those youngmen 40 years ago the idea that they were entitled to my body, and I was the disgusting one for saying “no” to them.
By the way, I did find a nice man. We have been married for decades. You can bet that when it came time to raise our own sons, first, foremost, AND ONLY, we teach them equal respect for everyone no matter their gender. We teach consent, appropriate behavior, and what is sexual assault.We teach them, to keep their hands off a female unless they are given explicit non-alcohol induced permission.
That is where you begin and end when teaching boys. FULL STOP.