Friday, December 4, 2009

Dudes Don't Moan While They're Fucking

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.

The End.

7 comments:

  1. Forgive me if I miss the forest for the trees, and obviously one's own experience is simply anecdote, but I wonder if moaning just isn't how men vocalize pleasure during sex.

    I definitely try to talk as much as I can, but I don't think moaning comes naturally during sex. On the other hand, I'm a big moaner during other pleasurable activities, such as back rubs and head scratching. Which is to say, I neither moan during sex, nor feel inhibited about vocalizing pleasure.

    Whether or not many guys are needlessly inhibited about displays of pleasure I can't say, but I'm not sure that moaning/the lack thereof is a good indicator.

    Aaaand now I think this has come off as needlessly tendentious. Balls. How about I try to make up for it by asking if you read the excellent Caster Semenya piece in The New Yorker and what you thought about that, especially in light of the earlier football post?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think the whole look at the dudebro socialization is pretty spot on, and I have no idea on how many dudes (dudebro or otherwise) actually moan or vocalize during sex, but I think if you're looking at depictions of sex in the media (porn, mainstream films, etc), the reason the men are relatively quiet is that usually the media is meant for straight guys (the dudebros?).

    From what I've heard from other guys (as well as my own experience), if you are watching porn to get off, you want to put yourself into the scene (thus the popularity of gonzo porn) and hearing the dude moan breaks the fantasy of being in the scene yourself. Additionally, I think the lack of vocalization by men is due also to the fact that with our homophobic society it isn't sexy for straight-porn-watching-dudes to hear some other guy moan.

    Not really knowing much about gay porn, this field might be something interesting to look at as I assume there might be more moaning by guys shown there?

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  3. Two potential alternative points of view:

    As far as porn goes, most "straight" porn is specifically targeted at straight men. Those men probably aren't interested in hearing another dude moaning and making a lot of noise. He's just a stand-in that can easily be replaced with a mental image of the viewer.

    I'm also going to assume that most men masturbate most of the time in private, where making a lot of noise would likely draw unwanted attention; so they condition themselves to be quiet while getting off, and that transfers to coitus.

    I think your explanations work well with the dude/bro subset of the male species, but they're an awfully shallow bunch with apparently little resistance to societal pressures.

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  4. Todd: I think that #1, I would not categorize you as a dudebro, which means that this particular theory doesn't necessarily directly apply (although theorists would argue that because the dudebro's masculinity is the hegemonic one, that it affects all men ... but whatever).

    It does however, raise the question: If the dudebro doesn't express his pleasure through moaning ... how does he? And does he feel like he can express pleasure during sex in any form?

    As per the two folks commenting on Porn:

    Interestingly enough, in the actual academic work, my analysis of the difference between male and female vocalizations was based on videos of real couples sharing their sex lives in a therapeutic sense. These weren't porn videos in the traditional sense of the word.

    And all the men (whether in straight or gay couples) were remarkably silent, minus a grunt here or there. It was crazy.

    And while I do agree that porn is generally based on male fantasy, why is male fantasy structured that way? Like, why isn't the representation of male pleasure a part of male sexual fantasy? Does the lack of vocalization of pleasure in porn actually influence whether or not men feel comfortable doing so in real sexual encounters? If there were more male vocalization in porn, would men moan more often as well?

    And while I agree that some dudebros are pretty shallow, I also think that navigating masculinity in this culture is really difficult because of the extremely strict and narrow definition. Some folks don't know there is an alternative, and perhaps are hiding great complexity behind a front of shallowness because they have never been presented with another way of being that also makes them feel connected...

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  5. You raise a lot of excellent points - definitely a lot of food for thought. It must be fascinating to study human sexuality.

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  6. very, very interesting blog post, and i agree - i think your analysis of how men get socialized is totally dead-on. fyi, though, i would actually love to read the un-translated academic paper - i'm a sociology grad student in the midst of writing my own papers that no one is never going to read, so i can commiserate. :p

    ReplyDelete
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