Sunday, October 9, 2016
The War Between The Sexes–Electoral Version
All men talk dirty. In locker rooms, college dorms; at sporting events, card games; on hunting trips, in bass boats, and on the golf course. Men talk about getting laid, the women who can’t resist them, their conquests, the ones who got away. They talk about sex on drugs and alcohol. Sex on airplanes, in closets, behind closed doors. They talk of first sex, best sex, and last sex.
The irony of men’s sexual obsession is that it never ends. Long after men have lost their libido and sexual attractiveness, they are still possessed by the thought of sex. They replay mental tapes of sex in the tropics, illicit sex, even early sex with their wives. They look at every young, attractive w0man on the street, on the subway, and at airport gates. An older man’s sexual imagination is no less lively and exciting than when they were young; and despite the frustration, isolation, and sexual disappointment of having become sexually invisible, they still feel they could be sexually active if only the right opportunity presented itself.
Men share lewd and provocative pictures on email and social media. Pictures of movie stars, tarts, and belly dancers are expressions of sexual vitality and interest. Coded bonding. Virility is a state of mind. Interest in women, real and imaginary pursuits, and fantasy encounters are sexually legitimizing for those too old, too unattractive, or too inept to find sexual partners.
All men know that male dirty talk is little but braggadocio and exaggeration. Tall tales are automatically discounted, numbers of sexual conquests discounted geometrically. Male storytellers who have little behind them get away with the charade because their audience is no different; and because the telling of the tales is the point. Just as there are no facts at a circus, there is little truth in a men’s club; and in both cases no one cares. Sexual exaggeration is a currency, and a story’s value is relative to its likelihood, its detail, its sexual dynamics, and its outcome – not its veracity. A good storyteller has had some experience and knows how to build fantasy on kernels of truth; but even inept storytellers are given a berth, for to challenge them would be to break the rules. Contesting one man’s sexual prowess would be to cast doubt on all men’s.
Most men are timid with women. Male ego is notoriously fragile, and savvy women know how to exploit it. Despite the sexual bombast, men fear rejection more than they value conquest. Rejection by an attractive woman is remembered for years. Confident men know that risk is a part of every transaction. No risk, no gain; and the greater the risk, the greater the gain. They are sexual stochastics and know that the more advances they make, the greater the probability of success. Rejection is only part of the mathematics. No ego involved.
Most savvy men know that sexual conquests are a function of listening, interest, respect, kindness, timeliness, favor, and above all confidence. The package is irresistible and hard to find. Virility, confidence, understanding, and patience are rarely found together in one man. Women want no sexual boors, no ill-timed and obtuse advances; but unfortunately they are the rule and not the exception. Women want male attractiveness and sexual intent, but wait for the reassurance of reasonableness and respect.
Of course there is a lot more to it than these simplified equations. Women marry their fathers and men their mothers. Fantasies of submission, bondage, domination, and every other permutation of sexual desire can be behind even respectful relationships. Attractiveness and allure are conditioned by social norms but are functions of complex and little understood sexual factors.
In the main, however, mating behavior is not surprising. Freud may have wondered what women want, but solving the riddle is not necessary for productive sexual encounters and longer term relationships. It is enough to get the basics which apply to both sexes – commonality, decency, interest, and legitimate intent.
Which is why the current electoral campaign (2016) is so unpleasant and disconcerting. Donald Trump has been vilified for the same sexual comments that occur every day in every gym, playing field, hunting lodge, college room, and bass boat in the country.
Are his comments crude, lewd, and disrespectful? Yes. Do they unfairly categorize women as sexual groupies, unable to resist stardom? As pliant, complaisant sexual objects? Yes. Do men always act on what they say? Rarely.
There is no telling with Donald Trump or with any man where the truth begins and where it ends; whether what is said reflects real misogyny, mistrust, and anger; or whether or not it is just male posturing. There may be some of both, none of both, or a combination of both.
Many if not most women have no idea of the compulsiveness and obsession of male sexual fantasy; and have equally no idea that for the vast majority of men such obsessiveness is bridled and corralled. Most men, despite their fantasies, marry conservatively if not well, suppress their most libidinous desires in the comfort and security of marriage. Many tomcat and are unfaithful; but this has little to do with the sexual exaggerations made in male company.
Many if not most men do not understand the mistrust, anger, and hostility that many women have of and against them. For the most radical feminists men are the sworn enemy – sexual troglodytes, throwbacks to a primitive, pre-human stage of evolution, incapable of sensitivity or genuine respect. Life would be better off without men, their ridiculous egos, and complete sexual ignorance. Even more moderate women can only assume that their husbands will stray, that they will have to compromise or jump ship, neither of which is satisfactory or appealing. At best men are careless, dismissive, and irresponsible; tolerated but never quite fully embraced.
In this neo-simplistic age, understanding of the subtleties and complexity of sexual dynamics is often forgotten. In the heated environment of an electoral campaign, political absolutism rules. There is no way to contextualize behavior which is taken at face value and no further.
Politicians make few of the mistakes Donald Trump has, for they groom themselves carefully – no sharp edges, no telltale, incriminating evidence of questionable behavior. They realize that as public figures they are always in the spotlight and under scrutiny. Private figures like Trump who have, because of their money, power, and influence felt free to say exactly what they think without regard to public opinion will always be at a disadvantage in today’s censorious environment. Sexual references, comments, and innuendos about women are politically and absolutely unacceptable. He has never learned the art of Teflon and covert personality.
Is he the sexual ogre claimed by many women based on his remarks? Doubtful, given his past. He may have had many lovers and wives, even contentious divorces; but so have many men. His family at least seems to be intact and his wife and daughters honestly supportive of him. His employment practices have been considered reasonably fair and equitable regarding women. He has not been attacked nor sued for sexual misconduct. There is no evidence that he is a sexual predator, a bully, rapist, or abuser. More than likely he is simply a richer, more powerful, and far more public sexual braggart than other men.
There are many male politicians whose acts have displayed a selfish sexual arrogance far more than Donald Trump’s words. Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Jack Kennedy, LBJ, Martin Luther King and many others have been adulterers, liars, and compulsive fornicators. Most have escaped the opprobrium heaped on Donald Trump. If there is such a double standard, then how can one not assume that the current sexual hysteria over Donald Trump is political not social in nature? Is not there some reasonable assumption that the attacks are as much because of his often unattractive and un-presidential personality and radical policies?
Donald Trump may indeed be guilty of some of the claims leveled against him. His words may not be just inflated sexual bombast. He may have serious issues with women; and it is right for women to question his meaning, character, and intention.
At the same time, his words express such a common, well-known, persistent, and familiar male behavior; that one must be at least suspicious of their seriousness.
Men are not all the same, but mostly.