What Does It Mean To “Be A Man” in our Society?

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Do you ever wonder, “what it means to be a man”?  Well I have news for you, there is no need to wrestle with this complex question anymore because PORN HAS DEFINED IT FOR YOU.  That’s right, according to the vast majority of pornography out there (which is straight, hardcore porn), being a man consists of these simple steps:

  • Have a huge penis.  This is key!  If you don’t have a gigantic cock, you are hereby doomed to lesser manhood.
  • Want to have sex constantly.  Make sure this is the only thing on your mind.  What, you enjoy singing songs?  Talking to a friend?  Cooking a meal?  You’ve failed the real man test.
  • Possess superhuman sexual stamina.  Don’t worry about the fact that no woman actually enjoys being pounded like a piece of meat for hours on end.  She really doesn’t matter in this equation.  Remember: sex is only about YOU.
  • Dominate women (and men too while you’re at it.)  Wait, you don’t enjoy yelling demeaning things at a woman?  Being physically abusive?  What is WRONG with you?

Consider this excerpt from a popular sex advice podcast, where a man called in for advice about his sex life.  He wants to be more like the men he sees in porn.

“My girlfriend and I have a great sex life, we’ve been slowly but surely getting into a little bit more kinky stuff… she wants it a little more rough, she wants me to talk dirty to her…which I don’t have a problem with, actually it turns me on a whole lot. . . . I guess my question is, do you have any insight in, like, framing myself mentally on how to do this, on how to be that a little bit more?  Because I guess it’s not necessarily in my personality per se, to be like, you know “suck that dick, bitch”, but I mean also, that’s the kind of porn that I watch too, and that’s stuff that I’m really interested in so, you know I could definitely do that, I want to be able to do that, it’s something that I aspire to, so any insight on that would be great, thanks a lot, I appreciate it.”

For so many men and boys, porn is re-defining so-called manhood.  This guy admires the men he sees in porn.  He “aspires” to be a man who tells his girlfriend, “suck that dick, bitch.”  He doesn’t feel like he is currently that kind of guy – but he wants to be that kind of guy.

This is the way pornography gets in our heads and warps our perspective on women, on sex, on life.  In this case both the caller and his girlfriend have been pulled deep into porn culture.  Pornography ties violent sexism and male domination directly into the sexual pleasure of both men and women.  No little girl looks forward to growing up and having her boyfriend dominate and degrade her.  And no little boy wants to dominate and degrade women when he grows up.  But because we are told so repeatedly from a young age that this is sexy, that this is “okay as long as it’s consensual,” that this is healthy, many of us get sucked into rehearsing this kind of abusive scenario.

Men are desperate to feel like “real men” – a seemingly unreachable goal in our present societies.  No matter how hard you try, you never seem tough enough, or handsome enough, or rich enough, or confident enough…and porn beckons to us with the message “it’s easy to be a real man” (steps listed at the beginning of this article).  Degrading women doesn’t come naturally to the caller.  But his addiction to pornography is making it seem sexy and normal.  And I think a lot of guys are stuck in a similar spot: porn is telling them what it means to be a man and there is no other voice in the conversation, no clear alternative. Guys – will you join me in being that other voice?

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2 thoughts on “What Does It Mean To “Be A Man” in our Society?

  1. I read your four points and thought, now this is a thought leader… Actually no, I just scrolled down to the bottom and posted this. Where are the solutions?

    • Hello – I don’t understand the first part of your comment. What is a “thought leader”? Anyhow, you’re asking for solutions. Do you mean “how can we end the production and consumption of pornography?” or do you mean “how can I stop watching pornography?” Well both are good questions – in fact my next few posts will address exactly those questions. In the meantime, here are some things to check out.

      AntiPorn.org has a great Q&A page, here is the answer to their question “If you aren’t trying to ban or censor pornography, what are you trying to accomplish with anti-pornography activism?”: http://www.antipornography.org/faq.html#138304

      There are many great videos, books and articles I could recommend on WHY we (men) need to stop watching porn and take on the porn and sex industries, there are fewer resources on HOW to do that. I think that’s because the “solutions” are not totally clear.

      I will try to address this in a post soon but here are a few thoughts for now. I think the key challenge for men is that we see taking on porn addiction and the porn industry as an individual and not a collective issue. Generally, a man either decides “I want to watch porn and I’m going to keep watching it” or he decides, “this isn’t good for me and I’m going to stop” – but we have not been able to join together in a significant way to say

      1. Porn is doing incredible damage to women (both the performers and ALL women, as the ideology of porn disseminates into our cultures)
      2. Porn is also doing damage to men
      3. Porn is about the profits of pornographers and not sexual health or pleasure (it’s the commercialization of sex)
      4. Porn has basically become “sex ed” for our children, which is unconscionable

      …etc.

      So when AntiPorn.org says we need Education to reduce demand and supply and regulation of the internet and the porn industry (“Big Porn”), it begs the question “how do we accomplish these goals”.

      And in my mind, the first and most important step is that anti-porn men need to form alliances, to get to know each other and to agree that it is time to speak out.

      There is no significant anti-porn lobby. Why is that? Because there is no money in anti-porn activism. And there is no money because it is an incredibly low profile issue at this point. And it’s a low profile issue because only a handful of anti-porn activists – almost exclusively women (very brave and impressive women, I might add) are saying this is a HUGE problem. We as men need to STEP UP and the first step will be to make our voices heard, through the internet (like in the conversation you and I are having right now, in articles, blog posts etc.), in our towns and cities (events? marches? protests?) How can we raise the profile of this issue and create a space where we can draw other men in and get the message out to the media, our government, the pornographers and the world: MEN WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS ANY LONGER.

      So those are some thoughts for now, thanks for asking. Stay tuned for more.

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