Amanda’s got a couple of great posts at Mouse Words about gender roles and male-female interaction.
The first discusses the popular belief that men have a higher sex drive than women do. This has seemed to be generally true in my personal experience, but Amanda points out that women are so strongly socialized to not speak about– or sometimes even recognize– their sexual desires, we don’t really have good “data” to figure out who’s hornier. Maybe huge numbers of women are hungry for sex, but are just too afraid to say so, which would mean that we don’t know which gender is the bigger horndog.
Amanda then briefly links this to the teen idol/boy band phenomenon, and when you put it in this context, it’s rather mind-blowing. Due to the taboo on female sexual desire, it is okay for a woman to say “that guy is hot”, but is not allowed to say “that guy is hot, I want to fuck him.” Therefore all of those screaming teen girls who’ve wallpapered their rooms in NSYNC posters are expressing their desire to have sex with these young men as openly as is socially permissable. Unless she’s jumping on the bandwagon (as some of these young ladies surely are), your 12-year old niece with the Justin Timberlake t-shirt wants to have sex with Justin Timberlake. Millions and millions of young women aren’t “crazy” about Justin Timberlake, aren’t “in love” with Justin Timberlake, but want to have mad hot naked sex with him. Somehow this passion has been stripped and mutliated until it looks like sexless attraction.
Which means that boy bands and teen idols are an entire industry based upon the suppression of female sexuality. You can’t have Josh Hartnett, you can’t say what you’d like to do to Josh Hartnett if you were alone in a room with him, but you can buy his posters and DVDs and whatnot*. That’s really sad.
I hope you get the jist of what I’m trying to say here. I know what I want to say, but as I type this, it feels like I’m missing something.
Amanda’s other good gender post is about “homosociality”, friendships between people of the same sex. To quote a bit:
“Homosociality (as explained so well in Michael Kimmel’s Manhood in America) is the principle that all men, including heterosexual ones, are raised in our culture to be more eager to please other men than women.”
It’s so true that it’s invisible. What men will do to impress women is a joke in our culture, but what they will do to impress men tends to go even further, again especially amongst younger men.
This has baffled me for quite some time. Our culture is obsessed with male heterosexuality, and the logical result of this obsession would be for men’s lives to focus on trying to please women so that she would want to have sex with him. Yet somehow, the center of young men’s lives is more about pleasing and impressing their male friends, often to the extent that they are actually alienating women. You know how it is, some guys will insult their own girlfriend to their guy friends to somehow look cool. But actions to impress guys while driving away the person of the opposite sex that you could be sleeping with seems so anti-heterosexual.
I’m not saying that men should center their lives around seduction [wow, Freudian slip. I made a typo which created a new word: “seducation”], or that women deserve to be treated as such, just that such a lifestyle would be the logical conclusion to a culture so obsessed with male heterosexuality.
The quotes up there are the best explanation I can find for this, that as hetero-obsessed as our society is, pleasing other men is even more important.
Amanda does have the happy conclusion though: treating people based upon the quality and importance of your relationship to that person, not based upon whether they’re a man or a woman. Not as common a sentiment as I’d like.
* Gives new meaning to the International Noise Conspiracy song, “Capitalism Stole My Virginity”.
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