So, academia. Many of you know how this system works. Some of you don’t. In academia, you do research by reading other pieces of research in order to help thought around the subject matter progress. You use language and jargon that is completely inaccessible to anyone but people in your field. You write papers that no one reads. You read books that have nothing to do with what you’re interested in. Your line of thinking works within a theoretical space that doesn’t always align with reality, but you hope someday to make that theory real. And at the end, if you make it, you get letters by your name. M.A. PhD. EdD. Even though what you’ve done for the previous four years probably don’t prepare you for any sort of practical employment, because you’ve put in your time (and your money, don’t forget that part), you’re now legitimate.
I have issues with the whole academic system from K – grad school. But what I learn as I get older is that when you’re working in unfamiliar territory, you have to have a cultural token that is familiar. When I go out swinging and advocating for Sex Education, people will hear Dr. before they ever hear the word sex, and it will work to my advantage hopefully. Maybe then, and it’s still just a maybe, the populous will be distracted enough by the degree I’ve bought to listen.
So what is the relevance of that rant to this blog?
Right now I’m in the ‘writing papers that no one will read” phase. And when I write these papers, they’re written in the hierarchicalized jargon of my field. So people ask, “Can I read your papers?” And I’m like, sure you could read them … but you’ll probably be bored.
So, every now and again, here on this Blog, when I get the time and the energy to write (because nothing has killed my urge to write for pleasure more than being in Grad School….) I’m going to start translating my papers into language that’s both fun and accessible. You may not see my rock solid logic, you may not be blown away by how well my research is done, but you’ll get the important punch line. Should you ever want the original academic work, feel free to hit me up.
My 1st Paper was a 3 pager, so we’re starting small.
The original title of the paper was “Effects of Cultural Expectation on Emotional Expression in ‘Real Men’.”
This translation will be titled:
Dudes Don’t Moan While They’re Fucking
There are lots of different kinds of men in the world, but this paper is talking about the type of man I’ll call the “dude” or “dudebro”. These are the kind of men who walk through life trying to live up to the standards of being macho and never crying and liking sports and shit like that. For the dudebro, the cost of not following those rules can be high. These men are made fun of by those protecting the dudebro way of life, they aren’t considered sexually desirable, and sometimes they even get beat up for it.
If the dude doesn’t want to have to deal with the costs associated with stepping outside the rules, he has to adapt. Most dudes learn how to adapt by only letting anger out. So, let’s say for example a dude’s partner breaks up with him. He’s been taught that crying or talking it out makes it so that he can’t be a real man anymore. So instead of taking out his emotions by crying or talking it out, he punches something or someone or screams or some other sort of anger related outburst. And mothers, fathers, brothers, girlfriends, etc, applaud him and tell him that’s he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing. He still gets to be a real man.
Chill, right? Not really, because here are some places where this whole ‘only being able to be angry’ thing can get in the way of life.
#1 It makes it so that, sometimes, when dudes want to talk to other dudes about their feelings … they can’t. They’re afraid if they start talking about their emotions, the dude they’re talking to is going to make fun of them. These guys also have no idea HOW to talk about their emotions. I mean, they grew up only being able to be angry, so they don’t even know what words to use to describe how they’re feeling.
As a result of this, a guy may never feel a real connection to his best guy friend. They might be able to talk about football for hours on end, but they don’t feel comfortable getting past that moment. And when this dude is lost or hurt or sad, and he tries to talk to his best dude friend about it … they both get all uncomfortable because they’ve been taught that they’re not supposed to even HAVE those feelings, let alone want to talk about them.
So being a dude makes it hard to get close with other dudes, even if one really wants to.
#2 Following dudebro rules also makes it so that dudes don’t understand themselves. There was this dude Herold who wrote this article on how he sometimes feels really alone. He tries to talk to his guy friends about it, and because of #1 above, it doesn’t work. Then, he tries to talk to lady friends about it, but he waits until all this crazy emotion has built up. So then, he spits out everything he’s been feeling in a 5 minute rant, and then she doesn’t understand him. Rather than trying again, he’s like, ‘well I’m not supposed to be feeling these things anyway and because I’m a man, these emotions don’t affect me anyway.” But they do. So instead of working out what’s really going on, he just feels anger. He’s angry that his lady friend didn’t understand him, that his man friends can’t understand him, and that he doesn’t understand himself.
See, because of how society expects men to act, this Herold guy never learned how to express his emotions other than to be angry. So because he doesn’t know how to express his emotions, he can’t talk about them with anyone else. Because he can’t talk about them with anyone else, he can’t get any opinions on what might be going on. Because he can’t get opinions about what’s going on, he doesn’t understand what’s going on.
So he gets angry. Because that’s all he knows how to do. And his conclusion was that it sucks, because he wants to not be angry about things all the time. He wishes he had more emotions to choose from that wouldn’t get him made fun of or get him called non-manly names.
#3 So this whole, not being expressive thing. Real men can have emotion when a) they’re angry, or b) when something awesome happens during a competition.
Women are expected to be expressive. Its okay for them to talk about their feelings and express when they’re happy or sad or whatever emotion it is that they’re feeling, regardless of context.
That why when you see video depictions of sex (porn, etc), you often hear the ladies letting loose and moaning and screaming and praising jesus, or whatever. Because women are expected to be emotional and are allowed to let their emotions take over without that being a threat to their identities as women.
We already know that dudes are supposed to be in complete control of their emotions and can’t express emotion unless it’s anger. So when you watch porn, dudes are allowed noises like grunts, and that one big moan when he comes, but otherwise there’s a tendency toward silence. Because if he starts to express his pleasure vocally, then he’s roaming into lady territory, which definitely means you can no longer be a real man.
Which is why dudes don’t moan while they’re fucking.
End of Paper Translation
Now, my personal opinion is that this sucks.
And the problem is many of us reinforce it either without thinking or completely consciously. We reinforce these random rules by calling men ‘pussies’ when they cry. Or by convincing your mom that your 13 year old brother should join the football team because he’s too sensitive (sorry lil’ guy). Or by telling your best friend that he’s way too gay acting sometimes (sorry doobs).
I’ve perpetuated it, and I feel bad about it in retrospect. Because while I thought that I was protecting the men in my life, maybe I was really just forcing them into this space that’s emotionally devoid and isolating. I want them to be able to break free of that stunted emotional space, and I have not helped that process through my own actions…
As an ally, it’s my job to feel okay when a dude is trying to express his emotions. It’s my job to do my part to try to understand him, and maybe even help him out with the words that I’ve been raised to have and use. To encourage him to do it, and not make him feel guilty when he can’t.
And maybe, just maybe, when dudes start to learn how to express all of their emotions and not just anger … they’ll moan more during all stages of fucking.
Liberating AND super hot. Mmmmhmmmm.