One thing that’s always bothered me is the weird-ass way that modern society sets up sex as its biggest selling point, while at the same time making its audience feel completely inadequate. I’m not just talking about marketing. Our entire culture is built upon that foundation, and it’s like watching a cannibal eating himself from the feet up. “You are woefully repulsive. But you don’t have to be! Buy our product, adopt our philosophy, join our cause.”
This subject is usually presented as a massive problem for women, and it absolutely is, but it’s often assumed that men are immune to its negative effects. I’m not trying to downplay or demean the hardships that women go through where this subject is concerned — I personally believe they have it exponentially harder than men in this area. Women don’t need or want one of the biggest issues in their lives “mansplained” to them. I just happen to relate to this topic, and since I’m a man, the reasoning behind my own issues are tilted in a different direction. I want to show you what it looks like when these problems manifest on the boner end of the spectrum.
You don’t want to see the wide shot of that.
To understand how it can snowball into such a huge issue, you first have to understand a basic concept in why we think the way we do. Before reading another sentence, stop and come up with ten words or short phrases to describe who or what you are.
“Donglord” isn’t a real word. Find a replacement and then continue reading.
The list you came up with likely ranges from the very basic “man” or “woman,” to more specific descriptions like “creative” or “caring” or “funk master.” When we define ourselves as individuals, we’re assigning worth by positioning ourselves as uniquely as possible. So, for example, if I start at the base, I can say, “I am a human.” I am a part of the whole. When I move up a level, I can assign gender, which separates me from that whole. I become a bit more unique, but still a part of a massive group. I’m also tall, which puts me in a still more specific group. I’m an editor. I’m a joker. I’m a smoker. I’m a midnight toker. And on and on, until I become unique.
When someone wants to emotionally destroy you, they often go for those obvious traits, because they’re easy pickings. But strangely, that doesn’t do much damage. If they convince you that you’re not actually creative, it sucks, but it’s not catastrophic. The biggest damage comes when they attack your foundation. If they can convince you that you’re not a human, that’s devastating, because they’ve just stripped away all of your value and rendered those unique traits pointless. Watch any argument against the LGBT community, or women, or minorities, and you’ll see that in action. That’s Asshole Tactics 101.
This is why the idea of “manhood” is so important to men, even if it’s just on a subconscious level. “Man” is the very first branch on that amoebic divide that gives us value. It is the foundation of our worth as individuals. I’m not talking about machismo or any of that dumb horseshit. If someone convinces us that we’re not “men,” we crumble. It’s the same with women. “You’re a fat, ugly pig. You’re built like a 12-year-old boy.”
“Stop! Your words … they burn!”
This is the entire basis for how the issue of sex affects men. It’s that foundation that sex culture pecks away at, purposely or not, and it can change a healthy libido into an anxiety-ridden ball of neurotic fear.
How It Starts
When I was a kid, porn was a physical medium that people stashed away in some kid-safe hiding spot, like the top shelf of a closet or inside some huge broccoli. Eventually, all children gave that “kid-safe” part the finger and found the stash anyway. Or in my case, it was just flat-out presented to me by friends and family members. One of my uncles showed me my first hardcore magazine at age three. I didn’t understand anything I was seeing, but I knew it was taboo, and I felt like I was being let into some sort of secret adult club. It was awesome, if gross and confusing.
I’ve mentioned before that my dad showed me my first porn video at age six. That was his method of teaching me what sex was, and when he was caught doing that by my grandma, they got into a huge argument. His defense was that he didn’t want me or my brother to “grow up to be queers.” Most of my family’s worldview can be boiled down to that scenario.
Now go get me another beer, and don’t you come back without a boner!
Whether the intentions are as creepy as my experiences or as “innocent” as two kids pulling up PornHub on a laptop in their tree house and giggling because “Tee-hee, boobs,” seeing this kind of sexual content at a young age warps your entire view of sex. Your first impression is seeing people jamming appendages in each others’ poop and pee holes. Women moaning in gape-mouthed ecstasy while two guys ejaculate on her face. Freak-dick men jamming their rods down a woman’s throat until she damn near pukes. But there’s something even weirder than that, which nobody ever talks about …
Most sex scenes in a video are based on two people who have just met. From an adult perspective that makes sense, because we didn’t pull up a porn video to watch people go through dating and commitment and forging a relationship. We came there for the dirty fucking. But for a kid whose only sexual education is coming from these videos, the lesson he takes away is: When you see someone you want to bone, just walk up to her, whip out your dick, and put your hand up her skirt. According to Ass Blaster 7, there is no such thing as consequences. And rejection doesn’t exist in the porn world at all. There is only, “Spot who you want to fuck, then walk over there and fuck her.”
Let’s not forget that for the first dozen or more years of your life, the idea of sex is just plain gross. It’s embarrassing to talk about and disgusting to think about. “I’m expected to do that? Pee comes out of there!” Still, adults tell you that one day you’ll change your mind — which, to a kid, is like telling them that one day they’ll enjoy swimming in raw sewage. At that age, those aren’t words of wisdom; they’re words of warning. That expectation becomes a seed of fear.
“Screw this, I’m outtie.”
It Perpetuates From There
As you approach your teen years, you start to notice that every facet of life has a sexual undertone. Movies, TV shows, music, jokes, fashion, video games … everything is laced with it. The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Porky’s, American Pie (which is basically Porky’s Part 5). Animal House is widely considered to be one of the greatest comedies of all time. When I was growing up, every music video was filled with strippers undulating while shitty bands played their shitty songs.
When you’re young and constantly horny, you buy into all of that. Pop music has always been aimed at teenagers, which is why it isn’t all that surprising that modern concerts look like strip bars. Why talented female singers spend a creepy amount of time bent over with their asses pointed at the audience. It’s why huge magazines and entertainment news shows can get away with so many stories about the current shape and condition of an actor’s body.
You’re inundated with sex at every corner, and the message to guys is, “If you’re not having sex, you are not a man. You are worthless and weak.” The irony is, as much as you’re bombarded with sex, and as important as they make it sound, you’re punished for talking about it. When I was four years old, my dad taught me to draw dicks because he thought it was hilarious. But when I did that on my own, I got yelled at and my drawing stuff was taken away. My uncles told me dirty jokes constantly when I was a teen, but if I told them one, I’d get chastised for it.
Sex is such a huge part of mainstream culture that if you’re not doing it, you feel like there’s something wrong with you. Eventually, it becomes a point of anxiety. Especially when you see actors and musicians in shots where women are throwing themselves at them (which was every video in the ’80s and ’90s).
You’re made to feel like if you’re cool enough and worthy enough, sex will be presented to you on a silver platter, like some sort of karmic reward. When that doesn’t happen, you feel like an ugly, unwanted piece of shit. You start to resent the idea of sex, because it’s been made clear by the lack of female attention that you’re not good enough to have it. And even though there has been no interaction between you and those girls, their lack of approach feels like rejection. You are not a man. You are not desirable. You have no worth. You are a Chad.
And the sexual anxiety climbs another rung.
Being A Teenager Makes It So Much Worse
So now you’re morphing into sexual maturity, and every urge and emotion has gone nuclear. Happiness is manic. Sadness is depression. Your mom is questioning your diet because you’ve taken five long bathroom trips today, but she doesn’t realize you’re not exactly pooping in there. It’s a confusing, frustrating mess, but you cope.
Meanwhile, the world is just starting to pummel you with its ridiculous bullshit. As a guy, you’re expected to lose your virginity at a disturbingly young age. Being a virgin past your teen years is considered sacrilege. My dad was so concerned about my virginity that he wanted to get me a prostitute at age 13. When I refused, he lost his shit, and after screaming at me for a while, finally landed on his old go-to: “What are you, a fucking queer?!”
“What’d I tell you about that beer, boy? Good job on the boner, though.”
Again, I understand that exchanges like that aren’t normal, and it most definitely played a large part in my eventual fear of sex. But even outside of that dysfunctional family setting, guys run into unhealthy pressure constantly. If your male friends find out you’re a virgin, you are relentlessly mocked until you finally give in and lie about having been laid. That’s where that tired old joke comes from: “You wouldn’t know her; she’s from Canada.” Guys get so embarrassed that they haven’t been laid by age 15 that they just want the bullshit to stop.
See, girls are taught that sex is the worst thing you could do. Having sex, especially with multiple partners, is something to be ashamed about. Do that and you’re a slut. Boys are taught that it’s the gateway to manhood. Not having sex is something to be ashamed about. It means you’re still a boy. And “boy” is emotional and social death.
When you’re a teenage male, that pressure from your friends is nonstop. Every conversation tightly revolves around sex, and your manhood is judged by not only how often you have it, but how many different girls you’ve banged. It’s everything. “I fucked this girl last week. Who are you fucking? How many times did you fuck this week? My girlfriend and I fucked for 6,000 hours last Saturday. Look at that slut over there. I’d fuck the shit out of her. But her friend is gross. I wouldn’t fuck her with your dick. OH GOD, WHY ARE YOU PUNCHING ME?!”
Wait, why am I still in high school at 45?
So now the expectations have built up to the point where you recoil from talking to your friends because you know the conversation is going to come up. So not only does the conversation jump start your sexual anxiety, but the mere thought of talking about it does.
The Pressure Builds Until Sex Becomes A Fear
Outside of that circle of friends, the subject never lets up. Comedies use “your dick is small” or “you’re a virgin” or “he only lasted ten seconds” as an insult punchline to take away a male character’s manhood and put him in his place. When comedians talk about their first time, the premise is always about how fast it was or how they prematurely came. Wrestlers make “small penis” or “no balls” jokes on a regular basis. Hell, you can see people making “tiny dick” jokes on the fucking news. Screw the news, you can see them on Family Feud:
When you hear all of this cheap bullshit virtually every day of your life, you start to wonder if you’re going to be mocked after the first time you have sex. You worry about how quickly you’re going to orgasm, or if you’re going to have one before you even have intercourse. Can you physically make yourself last longer than a couple of minutes the first time? If so, how? People joke about dick size constantly. I’ve seen Hog Wrangler 5: Anal-Retentive, and I’m nowhere near the size of the dudes in that video. When I have sex, is the woman going to tell all of her friends that I have a tiny penis? Why does that thought bother me so much?
And it’s not just with entertainment. You’ve heard your friends give each other crap, the way guys do. You’ve heard them all make the “tiny dick” jokes. You’ve heard the “you’re a virgin” insult. You’ve probably made a few of those, yourself. After you finally have sex, are people going to start treating you like shit because you don’t live up to their sexual standards? Are you going to be a laughingstock?
So now you’ve built up such a massive anxiety about sex that you’re not even sure if you could get hard when it finally happens. And as we all know, the inability to produce a boner is the absolute worst thing that can happen to a man.
By the time all of these anxieties merge in your brain’s boner department, you’ve developed a full-blown fear of sex. You’re afraid of how to approach women. Afraid of making any sort of sexual advance, even with long-term girlfriends. Afraid of letting them touch or see your babymaker because it might not compare to their expectations. Afraid of doing the actual deed because of what they might think of your inexperience. Afraid of touching the wrong part the wrong way. Afraid that they might think your personal turn-ons are perverted and disgusting.
“OK, honey, the costume’s on. Let’s thump.”
Sex — and even the thought of sex — becomes a nightmare. So you simply stay far, far away from it.
Aspects Of That Fear Stick With You Forever
To add some ironic insult to the obsession with sex that I’d built up over the years, I had a hyperactive sex drive. As a teenager, I masturbated a minimum of three times per day — the worst days, I could do it upwards of 12 times. On more than one occasion, I masturbated until my penis bled. Consider your nightmares about that mental image a gift from me.
When I finally lost my virginity at age 21, that sex drive was still present, and it resulted in one of the most exhausting, unhealthy sexual relationships of my life. It turns out that happens a lot with people who lose their virginity “late” in life. They either erupt in a ridiculous amount of sex, or they develop anxiety-driven sexual problems, like losing the ability to become aroused.
I didn’t realize that boning several times per day was abnormal, and my girlfriend just went along with it. Maybe she also had a hyperactive sex drive. Or maybe she’d just been conditioned to always submit to her boyfriend’s advances. Either way, it led to both of us being desensitized to “normal” sexual activities. I won’t go into details, because it’s way funnier to me if a bunch of readers are imagining me wearing a giant novelty sombrero and a pair of roller blades because that’s the only way I could get aroused.
The mask and the roof are a little weird, I admit. I’m just doin’ me.
But it led to something even weirder than that. On the rare occasion where she wasn’t up to having sex, the rejection felt catastrophic to me, on par with a breakup. It was the biggest face-slap of an insult she could possibly give me, even though that’s not the way she meant it at all. Twenty-one years later, I’ve overcome a lot of that insecurity and anxiety, but I still carry that gut reaction to rejection.
I have to remind myself that when my wife is trying to function on four hours of sleep and she’s just getting into bed at two in the morning, rejecting an advance does not mean, “You are too grotesque to fuck.” It means, “I am so tired that I can’t keep my eyes open. This is not the sexiest, most opportune moment. I’m afraid I must decli-zzzzzzzzzzzzz.”
I don’t know, maybe I just represent a minority of OCD, neurotic freak shows who overthink everything. Maybe I should have been on medication or in counseling. Maybe I should have just taken dad up on that prostitute offer and got it out of the way before I let it build up in my head as this omnipresent deity that dictated every thought and action of my day. All I know is that it took decades to control, and remnants are still settling like a cloud behind a dick shaped crop duster.
I can’t even compare my personal situation to what women put up with on a daily basis. I’m just saying that there are a bunch of us out here who can at least relate, and if I stop you on the street to give you a fist bump, that’s why.
Zoroastrianism used to be one of the biggest religions in the world, but their idea of heaven had a slight twist on it: to get there you’d have to cross a bridge. Sometimes rickety, sometimes wide and sturdy, if you fell off you’d go to the House of Lies for eternity. Fun! Not terrifying at all! This month, Jack, Dan, and Michael along with comedians Casey Jane Ellison and Ramin Nazer as they discuss their favorite afterlife scenarios from movies, sci-fi and lesser-known religions. Get your tickets here and we’ll see you on the other side of the bridge!
See why growing up on comics made us scared of sex in 5 Comics from When Sexual Assault was Considered Hilarious and read about the guy that cheated on his wife as an art performance in 6 Perverted Sexual Fantasies People Passed Off As ‘Art’.
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