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May 09, 2006

Comments

NancyP

The lads need to stop drinking! The connection between drunkenness and impotence has been known a long time - probably documented in Greek or Latin literature, certainly in the Bible and Shakespeare. Ditto with some drugs, reportedly especially notable with methamphetamines, which is why meth is marketed with Viagra for circuit parties (ugh).

carlaviii

May I recommend A Mind of its Own by David M. Friedman , which is a look at historical attitudes toward the penis. Amusing reading. It hasn't always been viewed as a piece of machinery.

Hugo

Carlaviii, I know that book well -- it and Susan Bordo's "The Male Body" have been hugely helpful to me on this subject.

Nancy, drinking is surely an exacerbating factor -- but not the only cause.

ewigweibliche

Thanks for this post. As a woman, what is frustrating about sexual "dysfunctions" is that men's health and sexuality issues get far more medical attention than women's. In my early 20s I suffered from some pretty intense sexual "dysfunction" - excruciating pain for no apparent reason and therefore an inabitlity to engage in intercourse. I saw doctors, gyencologists, and sexual health experts. Most just said "Well, we can't see anything wrong with you." They gave me a big long word for it and sent me on my way. Doing research on my I own I found that a large variety of sexual issues in women get lumped under one or two umbrella terms because nobody's done the research. Granted women are more complex in many ways - the organs being internal is one big part of it. But I was left feeling as though I was broken and would never enjoy sex again. It was soul crushing. (My problem did turn out to be physiological and I am fine now, although there are some unexplainable problems every now and then. The body remembers things in mysterious ways.)

I give all of the background to state that the penis receives a disproportionate amount of attention in media and research (hmmmm.... think patriarchy has anything to do with that?). I also agree that it's rediculous to claim that feminism is responsible for men losing their game. Humans are adaptable creatures and I'm pretty sure the human race will continue to mate one way or another! Thanks for posting this and for your thoughtful link to traditional masculinity. Instead of forcing women back into Women's Roles in order to keep men in Men's Roles, I hope that we can move beyond these confining expectations.

The Gonzman

Contrary to the fears of many women, a penis that won't get erect is not evidence of a lack of male sexual desire!

In fact, Hugo, often it means precisely that. And it may not mean that they guy is impotent or has ED, or something - it's that, believe it or not, a willing woman does not always make each and every guy go gaga, and lose his thought processes in pursuit of the "Holy Feminine," and furthermore, it may jolly well just be YOU he's not interested in, but has no problem with other women.

I know many women whom some think would fit well on the pages of the Swimsuit Issue of SI, but, sadly, being in their company for any length of time is a big turn off. It's high time men said to themselves "Ya know, it's okay to admit to not being a horn-dog 24-7" and admit there are times we'd rather be fishing, or something, rather than trying to get something going with a woman whom we are no more attracted to than an eggplant out of fear she's going to go around spreading the word we're gay - or fooling around on her - or something else, in order to salvage her fragile ego.

Hugo

Gonz, if the fellow has reached the point where ED becomes an issue with a woman he's not attracted to, then he's obviously having sex for the wrong reasons -- perhaps to comply with the "24-7 horn dog" myth that both you and I agree is damaging to men and women alike.

Rachel

This is thought-provoking stuff; thanks, Hugo. It hadn't occurred to me that ED could provide a pathway into reconsidering how one thinks of body and sensuality. It has long seemed to me that gay and lesbian couples, absent the "missionary position" baggage that heterosexual couples so often bring to their coupling, may be marvelously freed to think of their lovemaking in (pardon the inadvertant pun) less rigid ways; perhaps ED can lead to some of that same kind of rethinking of what we demand of our bodies, and how we use our bodies to express love.

Hugo

Well, in order for ED to be such a pathway, we have to be able to reach young and not so young men with the message that this is safe stuff to talk about. And rather than considering it a problem to be medicated (or worse, blaming horny women), we can present a counter message: that the penis is only a small (ahem!) part of male sexuality. We can alleviate the burden to perform by reconceptualizing what healthy male sexuality looks like. This takes a lot of courage for young men, and they need mentors.

Arwen

Someone said in the comments at Pandagon which I think bears repeating - because I'd never considered it this way before.
Since women are now more free to initiate sex without being thought of as a lady of loose morals, a strumpet, or what have you, then the sexual act mighn't always be initiated at the time a man feels sexy. Women initiating may be the 'problem' in that no one feels ready to go all the time; before, if men were the initiators, one would guess that they'd be in the mood. That particular perspective was a bit of a lightbulb for me.

mythago

Before we even get to the analysis part, the article is bogus. Note the careful references to 'experts' and 'surveys', and the implication that the number of men under 30 with ED is proof of the author's claim. Looks like standard "I had a deadline, so I invented a trend and threw in some anecdotes" journalism to me.

djw

Yes, there's simply no evidence that the trend is actually a trend. If more men under 30 are telling the handful of therapists, counselors, etc about it, that probably just means either we've made some progress on destigmatization, perhaps due to the hyper-medicalization efforts of recent years.

Hugo

Indeed. In my own college days in the late 80s, about which I ought say relatively little, I remember that this was frequently an issue for me and several of my male friends. We just talked about it in whispers of frustration, often only when liquor had loosened our tongues.

cuppajoe_9

A stressed out college student who lives on beer and caffeine has trouble having sex with a woman he is not romantically interested in, and both he and Laura Sessions Stepp assume he has a disease. And furthermore: it's all the fault of those pesky feminists with their evil plans to make life miserable for all males and their secret penis-control rays. Sad, sad, sad.

There is a bright side, however. The Washington Post article, while undoubtedly irrational, leads us to a fascinating game of "You are wrong because...". You are wrong because the ability to get erections on command is not normal. You are wrong because the problem is not new. You are wrong because, to quote Arwen, no one feels ready to go all the time. You are wrong because perhaps many men are not comfortable getting it on after the first date, similar to the way that (hey, what do you know?) many women are not comfortable having sex minutes after meeting the person in question. You, Laura Sessions Stepp, are wrong, but we of wisdom and of reach by indirections find directions out. (Don't mind me, I'm composing this while I'm supposed to be writing an essay about Hamlet).

Anyhow, anybody wishing to reply to me should probably do it by e-mail, as I don't read this blog regularly. (No reflection on you, Hugo. If I read anybody's blog regularly, it would be yours.)

Chris

***
Half a dozen feminist bloggers have done a terrific job of tearing apart what Scott Lemieux calls the "risible" thesis that feminism is somehow responsible for men "losing their game." I recommend many of these posts, as well as the original article.
***

When a culture systematically denigrates and degrades multiple facets of masculinity and masculine identity, as many Western Cultures, and The United States in particular, do, then it naturally follows that men living in such a society will experience a lack of vitality.

Feminism and its horrible consequences are indeed the reason why men don't feel so manly these days.

***
As someone who is personally and professionally interested in challenging traditional notions of masculinity, I'm struck by how even a single episode of ED can force an otherwise unthinking man into a sudden and serious reflection about his body, his identity, and his sexuality. ED gets men's attention, and it gets it fast!
***

I am appalled and offended by this hateful, self-loathing comment.
This comment obviously lays bare the fact that you hate men, hate yourself, and wish that men as individuals and as a group experience some sort of 'punishment', 'atonement' or impotence.

You are the most emasculated (apparently hetereosexual) man I have ever encountered in my 45 years on this planet.

You are a pathetic excuse for a man.

I hope the day never comes where you and I are on the same side of a fight, perhaps in battle or war. I would surely die if you were in my squad.

Can Dance

Wow Chris. you are doing classic freaking out because you think someone is questioning *your* sexuality or something.
your hatred of women is ill concealed. perhaps you would fit in better in a woman hating blog. I am sure they can be found.
I admire Hugo for thinking of himself first and foremost as a person and his masculinity, as so narrowly defined by you apparently, second.
but why am I even taking the bait on this one. you are such a flamer. hmmmmmmmmmmm...........maybe I am striking a nerve there as well.

Oriscus

Chris -

Assuming you're not a troll (no problem - I've been taken for one before) Son (you're my age), you've got a problem.

Feminism is not the enemy of manliness. "Manliness" is its own enemy.

There are feminist attitudes, held to by a minority of feminists (maybe by a few more women in general when drunk, and for as good a reason as any complaint I've ever heard about "women") that might be arguably anti-male, but they are a minority. If your working concept of Manhood is under threat, maybe you need to look into revising your concept first. Maybe the zero-sum model would be the first thing you should discard (ie: women have more freedom, therefore I have less)

I have been where you are. You mistake political grandstanding for heartfelt discourse, and heartfelt discourse for political grandstanding. When the personal is political, it's hard not to take some people's political statements personally...

Don't.

Your comments betray a limited experience of cultures other than that of the United States, and of a rather grotesquely exaggerated sense of male vulnerability. There's also a readiness to blame other folks for what you feel.

It is easier to level accusations at those with whom you disagree than it is to offer up your own experience in rebuttal. It is riskier, too; I'll let you figure out how.

Hugo's blog is a pretty consistently welcoming place. He's no more self-loathing than any other Christian (I say this as a fellow Christian). There's no need to come at him personally, as you have done.

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