As a relief from politics, let’s take a shallow dive into a delicate subject.
I have always been a bit confused about heterosexual interactions, and I sometimes wonder if others are as perplexed as I am. What do women really think of men? What attracts them? What repels them? At this stage of my life it is much too late for me to learn anything useful on the subject, but it would be intellectually satisfying to get some input from those who may be better informed.
First, let me ask some questions. Where is the difficulty? Why the hullabaloo? Should it really matter whether or not a young man or woman is chaste? What is the problem with promiscuity? For me, the answer is this. The casual treatment of sexual relations cheapens this most expressive and intimate act of love. It makes marriage less meaningful and lessens the likelihood of its success.
As I confessed in a long-ago post, I was never a ladies-man. I had girl friends as a young boy, but the relationships were always entirely innocent. I do not remember any specific instructions on the subject of sex at home or church, but somehow I got the strong impression that it was wrong to engage in sexual activity with a member of the opposite gender. My immersion in certain types of literature reinforced this opinion. I loved the tales of honorable men and virtuous maidens that somehow, at the end of the story, rode off into the sunset together. I was entranced by the vision of a beautiful, pure-minded damsel, and I hoped that someday I would find her.
The Romantic Dream
I had considerable difficulty in my search. It was not that these paragons of femininity did not exist. The problem came when I identified a virtuous maiden and she did not respond to my interest. I worshiped many a fair lady from afar. Perhaps I did not reveal my attraction to her in the proper way. I was very reluctant to show my true feelings to a young woman for fear of rejection. What’s the old maxim, “Faint heart never won fair lady.”
I did date girls, of course, but there was only one long-term dating relationship in high school, and I was not really enamored with the young lady. The girl I truly loved had turned her affections to someone else. Most of my boy-girl activities were in group settings. I was always respectful toward my female companion, and I did not engage in what was referred to at that time as “heavy petting.” I was aware of the “naughty girls”, and I avoided them like the proverbial plague. I did not belittle them, but I kept my distance. These were the 1940s, long before the so-called sexual revolution, and I had a rather high view of what my conduct vis-à-vis females should be.
Even as I lived this somewhat monastic life, I tried to represent myself as a sophisticate, especially in my relationships with other young men. I did not want to appear prudish, and, above all, I did not wish to be labeled a prig. I did not condemn or preach to my more wayward companions; however, I was somewhat straight-laced, and I believe most people who knew me, male and female, saw through my worldly façade. In my high school yearbook one of the female editors described me as “naïve.” I should have congratulated her for her perspicacity.
When I finally met my future wife, I found someone who was as sexually naïve and inexperienced as I was. She was truly a virtuous maiden. We had 66 beautiful years of friendship and love, 63 of them as man and wife.
My Fair Lady
Now, let me express some thoughts about men, women and heterosexual interactions. There is no X-rated material included, and the treatment is admittedly superficial. I will state my opinions, ignorant and wrong though they may be, and hopefully await informed feedback.
Although we are all sexual beings, and the sexual drive is very strong, I believe that both men and women have very wide-ranging attitudes and practices as it relates to sexual conduct. It is foolish to generalize, but there are a few recognizable types.
A very small number of males are extremely active and aggressive sexual predators. Perhaps it is in their nature, or it might be learned behavior. Often they are bisexual and amoral. They hunt for willing partners, and, if none are available, they will go after anyone who is vulnerable. They may have sexual intercourse with literally hundreds or thousands of females over a lifetime. If confident that they can get away with it, they will not hesitate to use force. If married, they will be unfaithful to their wives. If they are in a position of power, they will take advantage of it. They often engage in other sorts of criminal activity.
Another type of man is more numerous but less aggressive. He has a very low opinion of women and of sexual mores. He considers any female to be fair game and might be bisexual. He will take advantage of targets of opportunity, and he will not be bound by the bonds of marriage. If powerful, he will not hesitate to use his position to push for sexual favors.
There are other men who are simply morally weak. They have a loose view of sexual relationships and often a low opinion of women. Most of them marry and have a family, but they are prone to erotic fantasies and are easily led astray, sometimes resulting in an affair with an office worker or a neighbor that leads to a possible family breakup. They may want to do the right thing, but their convictions are not strong enough to protect them from a fall.
Men I am most familiar with are honorable individuals who have a high opinion of their wives and of women in general. These are the men I normally associate with. They are usually men of faith, subscribe to Biblical standards (Christian or Jewish), and are devoted to their families. Of course, even these men are fallible. Sometimes, they succumb to temptation and destroy their families. At other times marital troubles and divorce arises from circumstances beyond their control. Nevertheless, most of them enjoy long, stable marriages and are respected by all who know them.
One more thing about males and sex. It is a well-known fact that men are very vulnerable to visual sexual stimulation. If it were not so, pornography would have no market. Women should understand, however, that men have varying degrees of discrimination. Gross sexual displays are repugnant to many of them, and oversexed and obviously promiscuous females can be a turn-off. The average man may be somewhat fascinated by these hypersexed creatures, but most have no desire to pursue them.
As for my observations about women:
I know that certain women are attracted to dangerous men. I do not understand the attraction, but it exists. Indeed, there is a medical term to describe it. Hybristophilia is a psychological disorder in which female sexual arousal, facilitation, and fulfillment are responsive to and contingent upon being with a partner known to have committed an outrage, cheating, lying, known infidelities, or crime—such as rape, murder, or armed robbery. These poor women are proper companions for the active, aggressive male sexual predators described in a preceding paragraph. Unfortunately, these women will never completely satisfy the appetites of the predators, and their own lives are often filled with emptiness and misery.
I’m certain that there are milder degrees of hybristophilia. I have known some very respectable females who seemed strangely attracted to the “bad boys.”
Also, there are women who are strongly attracted to men of fame or power: princes, generals, political figures, sports heroes, etc. A former secretary of state once remarked, “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”
Certain women drift into the world of loose sex, pornography or prostitution. Many of these women may be propelled into the demimonde because of sexual abuse by some family member or boyfriend. For others, it may be a free choice. I am not familiar with studies on this matter, but, regardless of the motivation, it is difficult for women to escape from this dark and dangerous existence. Outside observers, especially cinematic producers, sometime try to paint these women’s lives as glamorous and exciting, but that is gross distortion of reality.
Women are sometimes guilty of initiating inappropriate sexual contacts with males. Men are not always the aggressors. These women might be single, divorced, or locked in an unhappy or unsatisfying marriage. Their male targets may or may not be married.
Women are not often sexually aggressive, and man is the one who usually pursues. Nevertheless, attractive females are aware of their sexual power, and they may derive a certain satisfaction by simply flaunting their obvious charms and provoking a male reaction. This occasionally leads to misunderstandings and unwanted attentions.
Rarely, there are men and women who appear to believe in so-called “open marriages.” These individuals avoid exclusive commitment to any one person, and they are usually very promiscuous. I was distantly acquainted with one couple I knew to be in such a marriage, and I considered their life-style strange and repellent.
I believe the great majority of women have traditional views of love and marriage, and these women tend to be more constant and reliable in marriage relationships than men. Based on my own observations, I am convinced that most men and the great majority of women desire a stable relationship with a person they love and respect. Most couples I know seem to have that sort of relationship and appear happy in their marriages. Many of them have been married fifty to sixty years and more. I admire them and applaud their devotion to God and each other.
This ends my brief essay on heterosexual relationships, love, and marriage. As I confessed, I really know very little about the subject. My own experience is very limited, and the opinions I have expressed here are based on observation rather than study. Please feel free to instruct me.