(I normally avoid forums, blog-festivals, and the like - especially when it comes to contentious topics. Hey, I get enough aggravation just from thinking about toothbrush bristles, ok. But I just had to write this when Aishwarya put out a call for entries to the Feminist Carnival of SF&A. Unfortunately, there were some issues (all your fault, Kyle Payne!), and it was felt that it was perhaps better left out. But she asked me to post it anyway - so here you are)


Let's make this simple - Men* can't handle female sexuality.

Oh sure, men are quite happy with 'sexy' sexuality. Which means we have no hassles about having an attractive bosom shoved in our face while we're sitting on a busy train/bus. We have no problems about being forced to endure looking at low-cut tops and high-hemmed skirts. We have no insecurity about getting an unexpected eyeful of interesting intimates. And we certainly have no issues with being subjected to spontaneous dances of a lascivious nature.

That sort of stuff men can deal with. What we can't deal with, however, is 'realistic' sexuality. And the freedom to talk about it.

The type where the woman explains exactly what it means to be female. Where she wants to discuss how just much effort it takes for her to look like she does. Where she aggressively defends her right to wear a tiny top and shorts because it's bloody hot, and objects to your staring at her because you think she's actually trying to show off her assets. And then slaps you for daring to try and flirt with her, just because you think that's what she really wanted, because why else would she be dressed like she was. Where she wants you to be ok if she just wants to have sex, but doesn't really want you around all the time. Where she tries to explain that yes, she does masturbate on occasion, and no, she's not going to enact it for you, and hey, if you don't like the concept, well there's always Anne Summers. Where she demands that you realise that just one of you successfully completing a two-person hands-on mission is not acceptable, and no, she'll be damned if you can go to sleep before you help her sign off too.

Oh, sure, some men may try.

Some men will stand there while the women in their lives try to explain the merits and demerits of shaving as compared to waxing, or talk about how much their back hurts when they have their period. But they're not really listening - they're blocking it out, or trying really hard to think of something else to avoid having to actually take in what's being said. Like Sachin thumping Australia in Sharjah '98. Yeh. At the worst, it's like white noise, where they can see the lips move, but they hear only static.

And why is this?

Well, you could blame social conditioning. You could blame genetic differences. But I believe it's simply because deep down, it just makes men....uncomfortable.

It makes us uncomfortable to realise that women too have hair growing on their faces, and if it was left alone, some of them could go around sporting goatees too. It makes us uncomfortable to realise that those eyebrows were not naturally formed that way, but instead required tedious painful sessions of being plucked at or being teased out by a piece of thread. It makes us uncomfortable that that soft silkiness that's being currently stroked probably required a few cheek-clenching minutes of intimacy with hot wax.

It makes us uncomfortable to realise - and know - that the only way a woman can stop hurting like we could never understand pain for one-fifth of every month** for around 40 years is to have a baby - and go through all the attendant pain and trauma of that process. It also makes us uncomfortable because being the tinker-types that we are, we can't help but the judge the whole monthly process as being rather...inefficient***. And, we know we daren't ever even mention that thought.

And perhaps, most of all, it makes men uncomfortable to realise that despite all our bravado and talk of strength-of-character, most of us know we would succumb - and rather quickly - if an unknown but attractive woman made an indelicate proposition to them. But that if the roles were reversed, our egos - not to mention our bodies - would take a battering from the almost-certain rejection.

So....no, men can't handle the the real nitty-gritty of female sexuality.

And if you want to test that out, during your next period, try describing to the first man you know just how big a clot had just forced its way out of your body. And watch him squirm for three seconds as he begins to picture it - before self-preservation kicks in and he starts remembering those sixes to long-off that Tendlya thumped off McGrath.

* Defined as all heterosexual and a sizeable portion of gay men.
* On average.
*** As opposed to it being on a need-to-procreate basis.


shyam said...

You've very likely hit the nail right on its head! It takes a very very VERY special kind of man not to flinch at any mention of female sexuality - even his wife's. Maybe especially his wife's. :)

Falstaff said...

I don't know. It's a somewhat bizarre definition of sexuality, isn't it? Either you're comfortable hearing another person describe their painful, bloody bodily functions to you, even though there's nothing you can do about it, or you're uncomfortable with their sexuality. Maybe you're just uncomfortable with other people's pain. Or blood. Or detailed descriptions of bodily functions of any sort, irrespective of gender. If a man came to me and said he had a cold and proceeded to describe all the snot that had come out of his nose that day I'd be creeped out too. But that doesn't mean I can't handle male respiration.

Or put another way - if you went up to a woman you know and started describing your period to her in detail, can we assume she wouldn't be made even slightly uncomfortable by this?

That said, given a choice between listening to a clot by clot description of a woman's period and a ball by ball description of some cricket match I'm not sure I wouldn't prefer the former.

DewdropDream said...

I can't agree with your point that a woman discussing her period is a part of her sexuality. After all, it's only a phenomenon. Much like a guy's facial hair growth. And if any guy took it into his head to start discussing the rate and speed of that growth with me, I wouldn't be creeped, I'd be plain bored. Maybe because none of it involved blood as such...

So I guess the reaction to period-talk is merely self-preservation. Just another of those "can't admit I get queasy due to this and that because I'm a man" stuff.

But the rest, now that was very... insightful. Well, it was known, but still, helpful to have it put forth in such clear terms.

It just struck me, that bit about not being able to handle sexual demands and independence on part of a woman? Isn't it going back to square one with men wanting women who are less demanding?

Shoonyata said...

to me,
sexuality is much beyond discription of body functions (for both sexes)
female sexuality is lovely, mystic, unique with each person (havent engaged with men on that plane)

yes, one gets scared at times.

Shoonyata said...

BTW, check this out when you have time:

km said...

Can you please define "sexuality" in the context of this post?

I am not being facetious. I am confused by your arguments involving low-cut tops, menstrual periods and indelicate propositions.

The Bride said...

Me too (to km's post). I can understand the period bit as part of sexuality but waxing? Isn't that just gendered conditioning? Or maybe it's just me defining sexuality as something biological.

Shefaly said...

Why does this remind me of the Friends episode, The One With The Soap Opera Party?

??! said...

Ok, boys and girls, let's get down to some arguing.

First, all, yes this is a rather odd take on 'sexuality'. But, if I haven't made it clear, it's the underlying tones of sexuality that I was considering.

To me, what makes someone sexy, is also part of their sexuality. This is not a classic dictionary definition, I grant you. This is just how I see it.

Talking - or hearing - about a period can be difficult because a person is squeamish. Granted. But it's more difficult for a man (than for a woman) to handle it, or even understand it.

And no, Falsie, it's not the same as talking about snot - because everyone can produce snot. And yes, (many) women do describe periods in detail to each other.

Yes, most men aren't comfortable with women demanding sexual independence. That's the point I was trying to make.

I hope the above helps. Otherwise, dude, I'm going with the "I'm a very confused individual" defence.

Welcome back. It is much beyond such descriptions - but it also involves such descriptions. Is paradox, see?

Now that is a leap - and I'd be fascinated to know why.

Metrosexual Monk said...

go ask the caveman, man.
i'm sure he'd disagree

what you're dealing with is the 'modern' equivalent of materialistic reasoning and shallowness.

while I agree it is predominantly widespread, whatever happened to possible exceptions?
there are some.

Falstaff said...

And no, Falsie, it's not the same as talking about snot - because everyone can produce snot.

So? Just because only women have periods doesn't mean that being uncomfortable about them has anything to do with gender.

Let's say I don't like dairy products. By your logic there would be a difference between my not liking plain yogurt (which I can get in any store) and Kefir (which I can get only at Trader Joe's), with the fact that I don't like the latter proving that I'm uncomfotable with Trader Joe's and probably can't handle organic food in general. Obviously that's nonsense.

??! said...

I'm not saying that women can't be uncomfortable talking - or hearing - about periods. But I am that the fact that men are much more likely to be uncomfortable, and more men are likely to be so than women (in ratio), and that has everything to do with their gender.

Also, I so totally did not get your example - but no, it's wrong too :)

Metrosexual Monk said...

and then we have to put up with stuff like this!

Tabula Rasa said...

fwiw (i'm always missing out on fun arguments like this one) i'm with falsie and km. and i want to say i'm as comfortable listening to a woman talking about her period as she is listening to my descriptions of my wet dreams. (no, they do not feature tendlya.)

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...


female sexuality? periods?

First, all, yes this is a rather odd take on 'sexuality'. But, if I haven't made it clear, it's the underlying tones of sexuality that I was considering.

what underlying tone ??? this doesn't make any sense. ANY.