The Fall of Man: Men's Answers

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The men answered five questions that more or less parallel the women's questions. 

1.  Does [the GQ] article sound like the way you and your friends go about doing things?

The first response I got to this question was a simple: "no."  Several others replied "yes," although disgreed with certain parts of it.  One said: "Yes and no.  Most of us talk a good game..."

2.  Do you think this represents life getting better or worse?

Despite the hypothesis that this represents, somehow, "guys winning," the male respondents were not uniform in their praise for this era.  One friend replied: "Probably better than the puritan days.  Probably worse than what the other cultures have enjoyed" - a tepid endorsement.  That was not the only negative view, either; one respondent definitively wrote: "Worse. But again that's only because porn is part of a broader trend in media culture, which is increasingly making life some kind of weird video game."   

Even those who thought it improved things were not unqualified in their endorsement: "I think that freedom of sexual expression is integral to a good life, so in that regard I think that men and women discovering their sexual preferences is a great step forward to a good society. I think that it is also the start of the feminist generation of women discovering that men and women are actually different in their behaviors and preferences."  The same respondent did go on to say:  "If you are in a relationship like marriage that thrives on mutual respect, is it really best to be symbolically degrading your partner on a regular basis?"

3.  Do you think this is new, or have guys always been this way?

Guys were genereally skeptical that males had really changed that much over time.  In a fairly typical response, a friend said: "The greeks probably had lots of aggressive a-holes doing all sorts of weird things."  Another: "Guys have always been this way."

One respondent pointed out that it is hard to see the counterfactual:

I mean at this point, how could I know what "normal" sex is like versus "porn-ified" sex?  Is there even a difference?  Perhaps, that's the thing that doesn't exist: the idea that there is some kind of 1950s, roses, and sweet kisses-style "Normal" sex out there.  Call me a cynic, but I'm skeptical such a thing has or could ever exist. 

Summing up a point of view shared by man male respondents:

Additionally, there could be another dangerous assumption at work here: the notion that because porn is literally the visual re-creation of sex, it carries more influence on my sexual behaviors/desires. That also seems a bit naive.  Porn wasn't created in a vacuum.

The respondent admitted that the relationship was complex and went on to say: "The relationship between porn and culture is very similar to questions about the chicken and the egg.  But to me, it seems likes a byproduct of everything else... to answer the original question, yes it effects my sex life, but perhaps not as much as the GQ author thinks."

There were a few dissenters on this point.  One respondent said: "People largely choose from the options given to them. And offering guys the choice of dirty sanchez's on demand will definitely change their psyche."

4.  If you think behavior has changed, what causes it?

One friend replied "Seems to me that the big behavior change is that lots of things aren't really taboo anymore."  Another made a related point, arguing that the culture of accepting sexually active women actually then forces them into destructive competition: "The cartel has been broken.  Women aren't supposed to shame each other like they used to.  It's not 'PC.'"

Some, though, refused to admit that anything had changed: "Men are filthy, disgusting pigs. They will do whatever they can get away with." 

Still others pointed to a more practical consideration: While one friend said, "I think that sexual expression has increased due to social [mores] changing over time;" he also added, "and birth control."

5.  How are girls trying to fight back?

This was one area in which almost all the male respondents had the same thought: "They aren't." 

See:

They aren't! If anything they are playing along.  People act like porn is something entirely odd and different from the rest of culture, but deep down we all know it's really just a vivid representation of things already at play in the social world.  Again, Porn is everywhere.  Just go Google "How to look like a porn star" and you'll see a bevy of make-up guides or even advice on how a female should act in bed.  Sadly, I think these trends overwhelm the insecurities of young females.  And low and behold, things like threesomes and anal sex are on the rise.

This respondented pointed to some data to back up his assertion; the article he referenced states:

In 1992, a similar survey found that 16 percent of women aged 18-24 had tried it. Now the number is more like 40 percent. And in 1992, the highest percentage of women in any age group who admitted to anal sex was 33 percent. Now it's 46.

If we make the assumption - questionable, perhaps - that men prefer anal sex and women do not and that there are no changes in self-reporting rates, then this would represent an increase in the success of male sexual preferences. 

Another respondent came up with two strategies he observed women used; one was: "Be like guys.  This strategy is an uphill fight against human nature, but there are some notable successes."  The other: "Profess progressive sentiments but really behave like puritanical ladder climbing yuppified Americans."  By that, of course, he meant "have stable relationships and go out to dinner." 

I will close out this section on the responses of my male friends and acquaintances with probably the most colorful of the remarks on this final point:

Are you kidding me? There are pole dancing fitness classes and educated women are the number one consumers of Fifty Shades of Grey. It's like they are actively trying to bayonet themselves on a mountain of phallus while charging as bare breasted cossacks into a cloud of money shots. Honestly, everybody should recognize that men and women have divergent sexual appetites and preferences, and then go gay. Super gay, and just meet once a year to have children.

That's one alternative.

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