Male Sexual Shame and the #metoo Movement
This is a guest post by Mike Mantell, a graduate of the Brotherhood Community Leadership Integration Training.
The background context to the #metoo movement is no doubt complex and multifaceted. However I want to dissect it, even if rudimentarily, because we need to progress, we need to do better, we need to learn and grow.
There are two sides to the movement -- the role of women, and the role of men.
In this post, I’m only going to address the role of men. Because I am a man. This is the side I can relate to, and this is the area where my work is calling me.
I believe the average American man is DEEPLY closed off from his own sexuality. I believe that he has shame around what he wants sexually, that he doesn’t know how to look at what he actually wants, and that he certainly doesn’t know how to ASK for what he actually wants. I believe that his sex-life is rife with insecurities -- that he’s insecure about any of the following: how he’s never really enjoyed sex, how big is dick is, how unassertive he is sexually, how he cums too early, how he can’t cum at all, how he sometimes goes soft, how he doesn’t know how to pleasure his partner, how he wants to dominate his partner, how he wants his partner to dominate him, his taste in porn, his secret fantasies, his lack of sex drive, his massive sex drive, his attraction to other men, his desire to tie his partner up, his desire to be tied up, his desire to have stuff stuck up his butt, his desire to suck a cock, his desire to move slowly, his body, that he’s not “manly enough” and a million other things.
Shame and insecurities are RAMPANT in the average American man’s sexuality, and he has NOBODY to express all of this to. His guy friends don’t talk deeply about this stuff, his female friends don’t know what it’s like to have a penis and masculine expectations, and he certainly can’t bring all this up with his partner, lest he freak him/her out.
And so he’s stuck. He’s stuck in a spiral of unexpressed and shame-clouded sexuality. And this repression of his true sexual pallet results in two major outcomes for him: either he unconsciously forces himself to emulate the MAN he’s ‘supposed’ to be sexually, and/or he unconsciously shrinks away and hides from his sexuality.
Both outcomes are dangerous. And men from both outcomes appear in #metoo posts. Unconscious repression of anything causes it to seep out in unexpected places. This is the same psychic phenomenon that happens when people repress and disacknowledge their anger, and then find themselves terrifyingly snapping at the post-office employee without realizing they’re doing so.
The man who tries to emulate the perfect sexual MAN doesn’t want any of his insecurities to be seen, so he acts in very funny ways. He might agress on a partner without actually listening to their desires and boundaries. He might act extra dominantly to hide his desire to surrender. He might have most of his sexual experiences while drunk, because only then can his erotic beast crawl out of the cage. He acts like a bull in a china shop. Whatever the case may be, this man is dangerous to himself and others. He has not examined himself, he is not okay with himself, and others are paying the price.
The other man, the one who unconsciously tries his best to hide, has castrated himself at fear of touching his sexuality, offending his partner, and/or feeling that his tender sexuality is being judged by his partner. This man is run by fear. He can’t admit his sexuality to himself, so he becomes a hollow sexual being. Incredibly passive. Completely follows his partner's lead. Never acts for his own pleasure or desires. At some point in his life he questions if he’s asexual. Whatever the case may be, this man is destroying himself, and is doing a disservice to his partners and the world by repressing his expression and creativity.
So what is the solution? How do we move forward?
I have spent many years being both of these men, and am now putting in the work to transcend these patterns and assist other men in doing the same.
As with any multifarious issue, there are many necessary angles to take. The angle that I feel called to work towards is the angle around open sexual communication, sex-positive brotherhood, sexual-self knowledge, and obliterating sexual shame.
This is one of the reasons that my friend and collaborator Devin Gleeson and I have formed a Men’s Sexual Inquiry Group. We created a male-only program where men congregate weekly over video to bare their souls to each other; to reveal aspects about their sexuality they’ve never actually voiced to themselves before; to shine light on all of those dark pockets of shame and eradicate the infestation of insecurities; to empower each other to OWN their sexuality and act on it in responsible ways.
This is our current contribution to the state of things. I think the first step towards all issues (personal or global) is to find TRUTH. To find, live, and share our own truth, to help others find, live, and share their truth. This is our attempt to work towards truth in the domain of male sexuality.
I want to live in a society where sex is talked about openly and freely, where people feel proud of their desires, and where sexual communication with partners is sensitive and responsible. Because it is in this society that masculine-sexual shame, fear, and expectations fall away. And so do all of the #metoos.
Mike lives in Seattle and runs men's sexual inquiry groups geared towards dissolving shame and empowering desires. He is committed to rewriting the mainstream by planting conscious communities and cultures all over the soils of society.
He works with individuals 1-on-1 as mirror that reflects back a person's deepest truth.
He hopes to be dancing at his time of death.
If you’re curious about Mike's work or would like to discuss the movement and what else can be done moving forward, you can reach him here.