Saturday, March 14, 2009

Macho, macho man...

Do young men face a ''new sexual double standard''? The National Post seems to think so, citing a recent questionaire answered by 104 university students that supposedly indicated ''that society accords men less "sexual latitude" than women, deeming it abnormal for a man to be disinterested in sex, to engage in homosexual fantasy, and to engage in submissive sexual acts.'' Supposedly, playing a ''macho role'' leaves these young men feeling constrained, particularly those who desire to be restrained. They feel they're expected to be more sexual, but less experimental, than women.

There are a surprising number of assumptions here. First off, that a sample group of 104 college undergrads can reveal much of anything about ''society''. Secondly, there's the startling assumption that ''normal human behavior'' is as the researchers idealize it, and any deviation can be only explained by social influence. In other words, young men would want to experiment with rum, sodomy and the lash, if only it wasn't for those pesky gender-based cultural standards. And then, of course, there's the assumption that the sexes are, biologically, identical in their sexuality. When people talk about the ''traditional double standard'', which they do here too, they complain that men are ''expected'' to be more promiscuous and sexually-aggressive, while women are ''pressured'' to be less promiscuous and more geared towards reproduction, blaming all of this on culture. That's fine, as it goes, but doesn't explain why so many other species of mammals exhibit quite similar behavior without any ''cultural pressures'' bearing down on them.

I would say, in my observation, that young men do seem a bit hung up as of late on achieving an exaggerated masculine ideal, and a bit too obsessed with homosexuality. But, honestly, I'm not terribly concerned with the dopey sexuality of undergrads, and I would hope that's not how we now measure ''society''. I would also note that this sort of nonsense is why I don't generally read the National Post.

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