How Men & Women are Different: Behind the Scenes of The Man Project
A woman gives birth to a baby and afterward, the doctor comes into the room and says in a formal tone, “I have something to tell you, Mrs. Smith.”
Instantly, the new mother knows that something is amiss. “What’s the matter, Doctor?” she asks worriedly. “Is my baby all right?”
The doctor replies, “There’s nothing really wrong, but your baby intersexed.”
“Intersexed?” Mrs. Smith asks. “What’s that?”
“Your baby has features of both a male and a female,” the doctor explains.
Relieved, Mrs. Smith says, “What? You mean it has a penis and a brain?”
In mainstream society, male sexuality is often dismissed as the punch line to a bad joke. The media’s continuing portrayal of the average guy as a beer-swilling one-dimensional horndog certainly doesn’t promote enlightenment, and as the majority of sex writers are female, the issues relating to the XY-chromosome’d portion of the population get short shrift.
So, just what the hell does it mean to be a man, anyway? And what do the guys who are out there teaching, talking and writing about sex think about it?
This is what I will be tackling in my new series for Sexis, The Man Project. I’ll talk with premier male sex writers, educators, artists and activists to get their take. The first installment went live yesterday, a conversation with writer & host of HBO’s sex inspectors, Michael Alvear. Check out Sexis for the article and here is a supplementary, previously unreleased bit about men and their emotions and how sex is different for men and women.
RW: So what about the stereotype of guys being less in touch with their emotions?
MA: I think it is true. It’s sometimes like, men don’t know where their emotions are and women are fondling them. Here you fall into a trap of saying all men are cavemen, I think it would be more honest to say that men don’t express emotions the way women do and we are not as comfortable talking. That doesn’t mean that our interior life is barren. The inability to express your feelings does not mean you don’t have feelings.
RW: Do you think it nature or nurture?
MA: I think like anything else it is a little bit of both. There is a great need to shut off your emotions, say if you are a caveman and there is a bear. The nurture part is boys don’t cry and girls are expected to. If you think about it, boys are trained not to express their emotions or express them in certain ways, like sports. It’s “you are angry, now get out there and block or kick or hit.” The expression of our feelings and emotions is channeled into doing something.
RW: What about the internal experiences? The emotional, psychological stuff how is that different?
ML: Women are more complicated.
RW: From what I’ve read, if you look at biology our sexual responses we aren’t that different though.
ML: I think that its true to say that physiologically an erection is as complicated. But I think women’s sexual attraction switches are involved with non sexual characteristics– far more than men. Emotion, attachment, self esteem, self perception, body perception. Those things have a huge impact on their sexual response. That is not to say that men don’t have those things. It’s just that it is much more consequential for women and therefore more complicated.
RW: What this also reminds me of are the statistics about how boys masturbate much earlier than girls. And I think in part that is because it is actually more simple for boys.
ML: Boys are Macs, girls are PC’s. Right, if you cant figure stuff out on a Mac, you just kinda figure out where to go. With women its like, well, you’ve got so many options!
RW: What is missing in the discussion of male sexuality?
ML: I think that men are far more multi-dimensional than women give them credit. Even in the bad decisions we make there is an idea that we are black and white. Take Tiger Woods. There is always a sense with males that you are either good or bad. And truthfully it’s the same with women. But for men, it’s the struggle to attain security through marriage, relationships, kids and then excitement, particularly sexual excitement. We think men have to be one or the other when in fact we are both. There is an inner conflict brewing in almost every man about how to do that.
RW: Oh, I am so into this, like a male madonna/whore complex.
ML: With that it’s either you are chaste or you’re just a whore who never met a sausage you didn’t wanna sit on. With men it is more like you are robot, you just want a hole to fuck and if you do that you cant possibly love or experience true intimacy. And it is just not true. Its unfair to both men and women.