This Movember, before you don a moustache, I want to ask you to check your man myths with a little mental exercise.
Which of these statements are true?:
Men are always up for ‘it’ ; Men are only ever after sex ; Men are dominant ; Men always want to take lead ; Men aren’t emotional types ; Men need many partners ; Men don’t have body issues ; Men aren’t the nurturing kind ; Real men know how to treat a woman ; Real men are from Mars ; Real men are made of slugs and snails and puppy dog’s tails.
Each of these would sound equally ridiculous in a world free of gender stereotypes. But I’m willing to bet that at least one of these statements rang true for you, even just as a faint echo of something you were taught as a child … or something you read in a magazine … or saw on TV …Maybe some are more obvious when presented as binary.
Men are always up for ‘it’, but those chicks need ‘work’; men are dominant, women are submissive; men want sex, women want love…
Whether or not you subscribe to these gender and sex myths, you can be sure that there is almost no aspect of your life that isn’t affected by them in some form. And their most powerful influence is felt in the intimate spaces of our relationships, our self-image and our health.
At best in this context, stereotypes and the myths they engender remove nuance, complexity and possibility from the sexual experience – men ‘don’t get to’ embrace their vulnerabilities, feel feelings, or experience sensual range. Women are shamed and repressed for having human bodies and human desires.
At worst, it affects our health!
According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, men die on average five years earlier than women – due not only to physical factors, but cultural myths around masculinity.Men are less likely to seek medical attention when they need it for fear of coming across as ‘weakness’ – just like women are less likely to seek STI testing for fear of coming across as ‘loose’.
So you see, trashing gender stereotypes might not only work wonders for your relationships and sex, it may even keep you alive.
Something to think about this Movember, yes?