It is OK that you choose to be a vegetarian but you should not believe that just because you did so bacon stops smelling good.
Dr Christopher Ryan
The first three books, aside from a detour in metafiction about a superhero team in the sixties have been about relationships. I come from a focus of study on male sexuality and masculinity, which is why I tend to STFU on a lot of the discourse online.
A bit of that is not being afraid of being wrong, some of it is not needing to be right all the time. The latter is more exhausting than you might think, usually because indignation serves as a good shot of adrenaline. If you’re self righteous and pugnacious, apparently you live longer.
Or maybe it feels like it.
Monogamy isn’t easy for some people. I’ve heard people talk about how you should forego happiness for stability then in the same breath, talk about how their phone needs upgrading. Monogamy is an option that has become the default.
The guy in the TED talk wrote a book called Sex At Dawn, it’s provocative in it’s hypotheses, backed up by strong research and a warm, engaging tone that stuck with me when I read it. I’ve reread it a few times, and finds that it’s opposition usually stems from small points of academic contention on paper.
It’s a rule of thumb that the stronger a force of opposition towards something, then it’s worth investigating where the opposition or prohibition comes from. What stayed with me through the bibliography of books about sex and sexuality including Sex at Dawn was how fluid and complex we are. It led me towards a compassion for other people, it taught me not to judge anyone who’s trying to get their needs met because sometimes it invites ostracism and pain for the simple desire of sharing a part of themselves that yearns for acceptance.
All relationships take work, monogamous, polygamous or inbetween. D/s relationships demonstrate a level of consideration that a lot of ‘vanilla’ relationships could learn from and ultimately we all want to love and to be loved, to be helped in having orgasms and acceptance. Men are as complex as women, the most popular fantasies are their partner taking charge, receiving oral and threesomes, which indicates a propensity to relinquish power in intimacy.
There’s a lot of demonisation of male sexuality, mistaking the urge for ravishment for rage and rape. It’s not expressed as an intention to inflict mindless pain, but male sexuality, high on testosterone and vasopressin is expressed in short intense peaks versus the slow gradient then long plateau that women experience. The pressure to achieve and maintain erectile function is a pressure that even the most loving woman can inflict on a man, when every man knows that their penis, although their best friend is prone to displays of pique at the most inconvenient times.
Men want intimacy and the acceptance that comes with it. They sometimes go about it in strange ways, but men want to give and receive tenderness. It’s a relief when you learn that you can express sexual tenderness and love without being dependent on an erection, that it’s not a weakness to learn the power in touch and taste.
The strongest women I know recognise that men are complex, a lot of women point out that men don’t know how to express the things they know are there and somehow we have to figure it out. I cry, I rage, sometimes I want to be alone to process the melancholy I feel but I come back to the world with wisdom from where I’ve spent time thinking about how I feel.
I am my own curriculum, and I still surprise myself, even now.