Lately one of those times where several disconnected conversations have all centered around the same topic. This past week, it’s been condoms. While the year is 2011 and plenty of people are having sex that would necessitate the use of a condom, the stigma of buying or having condoms seems to still rage on like it’s the mid ’50s.
In conversations with male strangers and friends alike, they often comment how embarrassed or shamed they are when they buy condoms. Really, dudes? You’re embarrassed that you’re A, most likely having sex, and B, doing something healthy and responsible in regards to it? Where does the stigma come from? I can understand the deep-seated idea that having sex for pleasure and not solely to reproduce might stir up some latent religious guilt, but that only goes so far. The idea that condoms are something to be ashamed of needs to be railed against.
Unfortunately, some men aren’t really helping the cause. Will.i.am of the Super Bowl worthy Black Eyed Peas was interviewed in Elle recently sharing his disturbing and, if I may borrow from him, straight up tacky views about women who keep condoms in their own homes. They’re not supposed to, guys! It’s tacky for women to be responsible about their own sexual health! Feministing ran a great commentary in response, quoting Jamilah Lemieux:
“Keeping condoms in the house is not the signature behavior of a slut; it is a responsible action taken by a sexually active person. Whether you are in a monogamous relationship, sleeping around all over town or simply open to the possibility of having sex at some point, it’s good to be prepared. Men have been known to keep condoms not simply in their homes, but in their cars and wallets. This isn’t about suggesting that the onus of providing protection should be on the part of the man (or that a couple should purchase all prophylactics together); this is basically saying that women should not be able to make the decision to have sex as casually as men can. And that’s nonsense.”
Guys, let the ’50s attitude toward sex go. Being less ashamed of your own sexual responsibility might even get you laid.
While my heart rests with the NBA, I respect and applaud the MLB for having a paternal leave policy like a normal, progressive employer. I further applaud Colby Lewis for making good use of it. Not up for kudos, though, is Dallas Observer sportswriter Richie Whitt who makes a point of demeaning Lewis for his parenting decisions. Andrea Grimes at Hay Ladies! takes him to task in a way that I could only dream of doing.
But we need to go a step further and call out Whitt for using his shock-jock personality to perpetuate a system of toxic masculinity wherein men are only real dudes if they don’t do too much of that being-a-human-being shit, like trying to physically and emotionally support their families, witness once-in-a-lifetime moments and demonstrate that there’s more to life than a paycheck. Toxic masculinity, gender policing and shaming doesn’t just hurt women. Doesn’t just hurt men. Hurts everyone. Hurts families. Hurts people, all people, who deserve to not be pigeonholed and socially pressured into any one kind of behavior based on the junk in their drawers.
If you somehow missed reading the highly disturbing details of the murder of Seath Tyler Jackson, I consider you a lucky person. I’m not going to recap it for you, because I also found it highly disturbing. On another level, though, I found the article’s conclusion quote just as disturbing, and it’s from a friend of the victim who attempted to stop him from going to the house where he was murdered.
Jones, the friend who tried to stop Jackson from going to the house, said the killing should never have happened.
“It’s just boys and their stupid fights,” Jones said. “It’s just who wants to be the bigger man.”
If wanting to be the “bigger man” leads to heinous crime like this, perhaps being the bigger man shouldn’t be such an aspirational thing.
Mychal Denzel Smith at the Root addresses the use of a homophobic slur by Kobe Bryant, and how homophobia needs to be addressed through re-examination of what it means to be a man.
On TomDispatch.com, Rebecca Solnit discusses the notion of male arrogance in her essay Men Explain Things To Me.
A look into the Conference on Male Studies comes across the Daily Transom at the NY Observer.
Newsweek asks whether or not manhood can survive the lost decade of the “Great Humbling” for “Beached White Males.” Somehow I think they’ll find a way.
Pema Levy at the American Prospect pulls some interesting points from the latest Newsweek piece by Jesse Ellison regarding male-on-male sexual assault in the military. She contends that women’s rights regarding sexual assault have led to more rights for men, and that the incidence of this type of violence calls for a new language to discuss it as the “she was asking for it” rhetoric defaulted to no longer stands.
We are all Will, even if we don’t care to admit it too often. We are wandering blindly in an effort to grasp what great purpose might lead us forward into becoming men, husbands, fathers, mentors, or in our deepest dreams, heroes. We, cocky in an effort to hide our uncertainty, waiting for someone to pull us aside and whisper in our ear, “you passed, you’re a man now.” – Chris Cantoni, “Who We Choose To Be”