About men's desires
This article was written after a meaningful conversation on World Pulse with Mauri, an Italian member. I thank her so much for having helped me gather these thoughts with all her insights! And you can read her great article on feminicide in Italy just here: http://worldpulse.com/node/60571
People think that "male lust is inevitable": that's what Mauri wrote in her last comment in our discussion on gender-based violence in Europe and especially in our two countries (France and Italy).This expression triggered a lot of things in me.
This is unfortunately a view too many people, both women and men, hold today despite all scientific results showing it's not as simple as that. But I think that sometimes, people like to hold on to simple things because it prevents them from questioning their own habits and prejudices.
This inevitability of male lust is used in so many situations: to excuse rapes, or domestic violence ("she refused sex too often but well, it's her duty, he should not beat her but one cannot really blame him"), or allowing men to cheat on their wives but not the other way around ("a man has needs, for a woman it's different because she cannot jsut sexually cheat, she has to be emotionnaly involved during sex because it's her nature, and htat's unforgivable") and so on....
The difficulty with that myth, in my mind, is linked with other prejudices people are still taught today about men and women. Men are supposed to be powerful, always proactive, wanting things and being ready to fight to get it. On the other hand, women are more about emotions, support, and care. And when it comes to sexuality, this is how it is built :
- Men want things and are ready to get it whatever the cost
- Men, in sex, have the active role. Women just follow the moves, somehow.
- Men's pleasure in sex is automatic (whoever ever had sex with a man should know this is not as simple as that, by the way) while women are more "complicated"
- Men's desires are, therefore, inevitable. They cannot fully control them. That's why they might be *excused* when they have a violent behaviour, based on sex, towards women. And that is also why a woman cannot be *excused* at all when she did not seem to understand and accept this inevitability. For example, to draw from an example we discussed with Mauri, a woman walking alone at night in a skirt is accused of having forgotten that there are men outside and they have needs. She was inconsequent, and thus, if ever she ends up being raped, it's more her fault than the man's.
Still in Europe, few people openly challenge this point of view. It is sometiems difficult for me to understand why. After all, the image it presents of men is not really bright. Are men really OK to be considered as animals, unable to control their sexual desires? Is not that a high price to pay for the relative freedom to abuse women??
But it's not just all about men. A fair share of women also support these views, and what is especially worrying to me is to hear young teenagers defend it. They are persuaded that men's desires are more pressing than women's and that somehow, it gives them special rights.
I blame many people for this. The education, of course, is key. The way sexuality is taught in our schools does not talk aobut desire. It limits itself to discuss contraception and protection against STDs - and even those disucssions are often exclusively limited to presenting the condom and the pill. Sexuality is not just that.
Other responsibles are the media and especially:
- the so-called "feminine" magazines who tend to support these views by publishing articles on "how to be always desirable for your man" (i.e the article makes you think that your man is always in for sex) or "how to please him even when you don't want to" (so much for marital rape and forced practices!)
- the mainstream media, when they present rape cases. The way a victim was dressed is never discussed in a murder, a robbery or an assault. But when it's about rape, then you can be sure at some point somebody will detail the way the victim was dressed. If she's wearing a skirt, here you go: she asked for it. If she's wearing pants (if you have a bit of logic, it should destroy the precedent argument but no. Why would you be logical.....), she is suspected of having participated to the rape, because pants are difficult to remove so somehow, also, she must have asked for it.
Nobody will ever ever convince me that men's lust is inevitable and therefore I, as a woman, should accept it. And never ever will I accept that rape or other gender-based violence assault victims should be blamed because they did not accept it.
Again, thanks to Mauri for having helped my brain gather all of this!! I would also like to thank all the women from the Democratic Republic of Congo for all their articles about gender-based violence. I translated some of their stories in English and I encourage you all to go and read them. Some are terrible, and many tell the same stories: how men's desires are judged more important than women's rights as human beings.
Warm regards to you all,