Expecting one’s needs to be met by others.

Hugo Schwyzer on sexual ethics:

“Making it clear that one doesn’t expect one’s wants to be met by others is a key part of putting other folks at ease.”

What’s interesting about this sentence is that the verb “to expect” can have different definitions, although I assume the meaning Mr. Schwyzer intended was, “To consider reasonable or due.  We expect an apology.”  So his sentence could be written as:

“Making it clear that one doesn’t consider it reasonable or due that one’s wants be met by others is a key part of putting other folks at ease.”

(As an aside, I think that whether “others” is taken to mean “people with whom you presently interact” or “someone, somewhere, at sometime” goes a long way in determining whether the previous sentence is a reasonable ethical guideline.)

But the verb “to expect” also means, “To look forward to the probable occurrence of.  To expect rain.”  So the sentence could be written as:

“Making it clear that one doesn’t look forward to the probable occurrence that one’s wants will be met by others is a key part of putting other folks at ease.”

(I assume this isn’t what Mr. Schwyzer meant, as this sentence only makes sense if you assume that telegraphing a low estimation of one’s own sexual desirability is a key part of putting other folks at ease.)

So here’s what’s worth thinking about:  At least for a man, “looking forward to the probable occurrence” that one’s sexual desires will be fulfilled by a woman is, (1) perfectly ethical, as it does not entail making an unwelcome demand on a woman, and (2) makes it psychologically easier for a man to avoid being pushy or demanding or needy toward women.

A young man who has a healthy estimation of his own sexual desirability, and who can “look forward to the probable occurrence” that his sexual desires with be fulfilled by – or I should say with – a woman, is a man who has more psychological space within which to develop into someone who not only enjoys his own sexuality, but who has a greater understanding and respect for women as well.

That’s why I think it’s destructive when some feminists merely tolerate male sexuality, and act on the belief that occasionally throwing cold water on men’s desires is somehow socially therapeutic.  E.g. Friedman’s gratuitous aside in her otherwise good essay:  “Surely some of you reading this now will… take this as an invitation to hit on me.  (Hint:  IT’S NOT.)”

(The expression “hitting on” is a nastily ambiguous phrase.)

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One Response to Expecting one’s needs to be met by others.

  1. April says:

    That’s why I think it’s destructive when some feminists merely tolerate male sexuality, and act on the belief that occasionally throwing cold water on men’s desires is somehow socially therapeutic. E.g. Friedman’s gratuitous aside in her otherwise good essay: “Surely some of you reading this now will… take this as an invitation to hit on me. (Hint: IT’S NOT.)”

    I think an important consideration that not only (female) feminists, but all women haven’t yet admitted to (collectively, anyhow) is that we really don’t understand male sexuality. What we understand is based on two things: our experiences with male sexuality (which are really only readily available to the heterosexual women) and what we read, hear, and see about male sexuality.

    I’m currently reading a book called Transforming Rape Culture, which is great, but the only images of male sexuality that I’ve come across so far are those that paint it as something predatory, or bred badly. This simply isn’t true, and it’s not only unhealthy for men to be painted as such, but it’s unhealthy to reinforce the idea to women that men’s sexuality is, by nature, predatory and insatiable. It causes us to feel as though men are only interested in us sexually, that men are just barely restraining their desire to brutally rape us all the time, and that they are naturally going to be turned on at the mere sight of us. All of these erroneous assumptions that are reinforced time and time again cause such enormous confusion and tension between women and men.

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