In many progressive social circles, where slut-shaming women is rightfully frowned upon, men are still the victims of a similar sexual shaming – we’ll call it “creep shaming” – in which men are called “creeps” or “jerks” every time they admit to finding multiple women sexually attractive
An attractive female bank teller was sitting behind our teller in a short dress, rubbing lotion on her arms and legs.
I caught myself halfway into an eye roll and an insult mocking his “shallowness.”
I realized I’d been programmed to react that way. It’s the same way my step mom reacted to my dad’s wide-eyed expression when an exceptionally beautiful woman walked by – a disgusted glare and maybe a smack in the arm.
But what was wrong with my boyfriend taking note of the banker’s sexual attractiveness? He didn’t want to rape her. He didn’t verbally harass her. He didn’t do anything, except half-jokingly confide in me – his polyamorous, sex-positive girlfriend – that he found the act of a business woman rubbing lotion on her legs mildly sexually arousing.
Some might argue he and my dad were objectifying these women by allowing them to hold their gaze a little too long.
I’m still not exactly sure what people mean by this… By admiring someone’s physical beauty or sex appeal you are automatically treating them as an “object”?? If that’s the case, I am guilty of constant objectification of men and women.
Sure, I realize they have feelings, emotions and intellect. No, I don’t think of them as an object like a plastic doll. But which god of which religion said it is “wrong” to appreciate human beauty on a purely physical level? Or, for that matter, to enjoy being appreciated on a purely physical level?
Shaming male sexuality is shaming female sexuality
For example, I was working on my boyfriend’s food truck the other night in a short, flowy hippie dress. I felt slightly sexier than I do in my typical work-from-home attire (pajamas) and was keenly aware of the curves of my body as I gracefully, but quickly, floated around the truck. I could feel the eyes of two old Harley biker guys glued to my every exaggerated move as I prepared their meals, and I liked it.
Were they “gross” or “perverts” or “pigs” or “shallow” for looking at my body and liking it? Was I an attention-starved “slut” or “whore” with “low self esteem” for liking that they liked it?
I don’t think so. In fact, I feel a lot better about myself now that I’m aware of my sexual energy and not afraid to harness it – or let it flow – than I was years ago, when I was ashamed being perceived in a sexually arousing way.
I was a young, attractive reporter once upon a time, constantly conflicted about what to wear. I wanted the attention of certain other young, attractive reporters, but didn’t want to embarrass the conservative older men, whose long-repressed sexual nature might be revealed if their eyes wandered any lower than my face. So I was careful not wear anything too short, too low cut, or too flattering, even though I wanted to.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, you can’t shame a man for noticing a woman’s sexual attractiveness without simultaneously shaming a woman for not hiding it. That’s called slut shaming, and nobody likes that these days.
Shaming male sexuality perpetuates rape culture
When we ask heterosexual men to hide their natural desire for sex, we encourage the real objectification of women, because repression leads to obsession… and obsession leads to rape culture.
Sex-positive, feminist blogger Emma Lindsay explains it best:
When we shame someone like Ken Bone for, essentially, getting turned on by women we are perpetuating rape culture. When we call men “creeps” for having extremely normal biological desires, we emotionally stunt them, so they are unable to negotiate for said desires in good faith. If men weren’t ashamed to be seen in their desire, they wouldn’t mind having sex with women with brains and emotions. They wouldn’t be so fascinated by the promise of sex objects unable to judge them. They wouldn’t hate themselves, and by extension women, for making them hate themselves.
We portray male lust as a demonic, unstoppable force but it’s not. If it was, men would be raping women in broad daylight. But men are able to control their lust and use sound judgement about getting their sexual needs met. They just will not negotiate in good faith if every time they admit to being horny, everyone accuses them of being a skeeze bag.
So next time your boyfriend or husband admits to being turned on by another woman or to his general need for sexual novelty, don’t shame him or mock him or roll your eyes. Celebrate his natural, healthy desire for sex with multiple people – an instinct that evolved for the health of our species – and whether or not the two of you agree to act on that desire, let him know you’re someone he can trust to be honest with about his feelings.
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