#METOO has changed the landscape of society. It is no longer possible to ignore the widespread extent of male sexual dysfunction.
For too long we—and by ‘we’ I mean men—have pretended that unhealthy sexual behaviour is the exclusive preserve of a few ‘bad eggs’ while most of us are squeaky clean goody-two-shoes. It’s comforting to think that, somewhere, there’s a nice line that divides sexual predators from acceptable society. A nice clear line that no one ever crosses.
There is no such line. There is a wide range of misogynistic behaviour, all of it damaging and disempowering to women and men alike. As actor Alyssa Milano commented, “There are different stages of cancer. Some more treatable than others. But it’s still cancer.”
In our scientific materialist society we like to think that we’re all logical, rational beings in control of our emotions and urges. Tell that to Joanna Yeates, murdered just before Christmas of 2011 when her neighbour Vincent Tabak lost his self-control. Tell that to the victims of Elliot Rodger, who went on a killing spree at a California college over his inability to get laid. Or to all the female actors who’ve had to fend off an aroused Hollywood potentate.
The reality is that we live in a society of growing sexual sovereignty. For the past 5,000-odd years we’ve lived in a masculine-dominant society where women’s sexual rights were routinely trampled into the ground. The rise of feminism over the last century reversed much of this. With #METOO historical attitudes to sex aren’t just on the way out. They’ve gone. A Rubicon has been crossed.
With the rise of feminism in general and #METOO in particular we are moving towards a much healthier society, not just sexually but emotionally. Women are shifting more rapidly than men.
With the rise of feminism in general and #METOO in particular we are moving towards a much healthier society, not just sexually but emotionally. Women are shifting more rapidly than men. In evolutionary terms, they are better adapted to today’s fluid social conditions, where what Dr Travis Bradberry terms emotional intelligence (EQ) increasingly determines who thrives and who doesn’t.
Men need to catch up—except they are hamstrung by 6,000 years of social conditioning that has taught them to bury their feelings, shut down, and never talk about anything emotional. The result of men’s tendency to shut down is a difficulty in articulating their feelings and asking for help. This can make healthy, consensual sexual expression challenging which can fuel a toxic brew of desire, pain and rage. Internal tension rises like a kettle coming to the boil.
We don’t know when this tension will become enough to snap us. Furthermore, the closer we get to snapping, the less self-awareness we have. We zone out. We enter a grey area where our thoughts and feelings make sense to us when in reality we are drifting ever further from the shores of normality.
The recent, dramatic falls from grace of Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey demonstrate just how precipitous a cliff #METOO has created. There’s no coming back if you step off the ledge. So if you have trouble with sexual shame, if your porn use is spiralling out of control, if you’re feeling painful sexual urges raging inside you, talk about it. Get help. Now.
Image: Isabella Nash, Zaff Malik and Elizabeth Beston in The Night Walker. © Mica Films. Used with permission.