In a thoughtful reaction to the Vanity Fair article “Friends Without Benefits,” Adi Robertson writes:
“If we were actually interested in looking at how boys are “taught” to expect sex, we might consider asking a few of them. But instead, we treat them like mute forces of nature, incapable of empathy when given access to sexting. We assume that men exploiting women is inevitable the moment we let girls onto the internet or out of the house.”
It was a blip of an argument buried in a thesis against blaming social media instead of the “misogyny and hatred it reflects” when it comes to sex-related crimes and bullying among teens. What the author did not fully address is the misandry inherent in any discussion relating to teenagers and anything remotely associated with sex. Ironically, I hadn’t ever heard the term “misandry” until I began researching modern feminism. “The hatred or dislike of boys or men” is quite common in the feminist world, often expressed through a series of Steinem-esque stereotypes that define the male sex as inherently oppressive of women and sexually perverse.
“I feel like I’m a rapist,” one male college student once told me. “I go into my film theory class and suddenly I’m just some perverted white guy who wants to have sex with anyone and is going to attack them to get it. I feel disgusting.” His wasn’t the only liberal arts experience laced with misadronisitic notions. I faced my own battles with feminist professors who taught quack phallocentric theories about (white) men controlling money, dominating their wives, and forging an aggressively abusive path through life.
Second-wave feminists aren’t all to blame for the gross stereotyping of the male sex in the 21st century. The idea that teenage boys are tanks full of raging hormones is a threat to the most conservative of mothers. Even men feel the need to live up to certain stereotypes. In a recent interview, author Elizabeth Gilbert recounted the story of a male fan of her book Eat, Pray, Love:
I actually got such a wonderful letter one time from a guy who said, “I picked up your book on my girlfriend’s bedside table and started reading it, and I got really into it, and then I really started to care about it, and I wanted to keep reading it but I didn’t want anyone to see me, so I wrapped it up in a copy of Details.” It’s like reverse pornography. He had to actually put something smutty around it to salvage his reputation. And he said, “But then one day I was reading it on the subway, and I got to a really emotional part of the book and I started crying, and I realized that it appeared I was weeping over my copy of Details magazine with Anna Kournikova on the cover. I realized that was even worse.”
King David, the ultimate male role model in the Bible, is often remembered for being the guy who had his commander and friend killed in battle in order to take his friend’s wife, Bathsheba (who he’d already slept with), for his own. What most folks don’t recall learning about David are the facts that he was a rather ugly little runt, spent his twenties hiding in caves, was brokenhearted at the loss of his best friend Jonathan, and publicly danced in praise of God. In fact, even though David accidentally flashed the crowd, it was his wife Michal who received the rebuke from God for criticising her husband’s nudity.
As much as western culture would like us to believe, King David was not a stereotypical sexual beast. He was as round a character as you and I, with the same passions, struggles, and choices to make. In other words, he was as human as the men of today. And when women learn the lesson of Michal and cease stereotyping men as sexual animals perhaps they’ll be as comfortable expressing themselves in public as David was dancing in the streets of Jerusalem, without the need to mask their thoughts and emotions behind a pervy magazine.