Much can be learned about a culture from the way it portrays (or outright refuses to portray) sexuality.

In the west, porn is a polarizing issue. So is sex in the media. So much so that some reading this already probably like or dislike this post.

If you lean conservative, you might say porn is harmful because sex was meant to be a private act, i.e. one to be shared between partners and not put on display. You might also add that the over-sexualization of the media is harmful because it is breaking important social norms around sex that serve constructive social functions such as controlling teenage pregnancies and regulating cultural expectations around sex. Moreover, you might complain about what you see as a modern crisis of meaningless hook-ups and the consequent devaluation of the body and its sexuality. You might link porn to the failure of relationships and marriages and the objectification of sex and the human body. Ultimately, you might add, porn is simply inauthentic — real life sex just isn’t what it is portrayed as.

Of course, many disagree — some quite vehemently in fact. While for conservatives sex is something to be guarded, for many others it is something to be celebrated or at the very least acknowledged and widely discussed. In this view, the ever more open public conversation about sex is not evidence for the over-sexualization of the media. And porn is good because it depicts what is naturally a source of much pleasure for all humans. Moreover, it is also a kind of social service — one that few wish to openly acknowledge — that prevents sexual frustration from building up and erupting in much more harmful and violent ways. Seen in a more liberal light, porn is hardly doing any damage to the culture. In fact, some might argue that porn does the job many adults simply refuse to do — speak openly about sex, how it is done and what can be done in the first place. That porn is inauthentic is acknowledged but only as a minor point — anyone who has sex quickly realizes this fact and is able to calibrate their expectations and behavior accordingly.

As for the hook-up culture and the objectification of the human body, the opponents of the conservative view would likely say there is no need for the paranoia. After all, what is one man’s objectification is another man’s appreciation. Besides, who has the right to tell others how to have sex and enjoy their sexual freedoms?  Continue reading Our Weird Cultural Portrayal Of Sex

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Part 1 (not strictly required, but makes for good reading too)

One of the unfortunate consequences of today’s lack of understanding between men and women is the ever-greater shift of the debate towards extreme arguments against the (sometimes willfully) caricatured positions of the other side. 

In the warmness of friendly online forums shielded from any form of criticism, such behavior only serves to polarize. An effect only made worse by the fact that extreme ideas breed contempt for the other side and thus gradually build up an conceptual moat around the whole ideological positions. In simpler terms, it’s equally hard to convince a radical feminist to give the benefit of the doubt to men as it is to make a MGTOW want to marry.

Of course, all of this would have mattered much less if it stayed an isolated phenomenon of the fringes. Unfortunately, extreme ideologies tend to seek both new converts as well as power. At this, feminism has been much more successful, partly because there genuinely used to be discriminatory laws that needed to be fixed. Ambitious women throughout history have rightly seen many injustices and sought to reimagine a more fair and just society. Nonetheless, it’s a delicate line between wanting to fix an injustice and desiring it went the other way. Just like with all humans in general, for every few nice women acting in good faith, there will always one deviating from justice and acting in bad faith instead.

At least from where I sit, not all injustices between men and women have been fixed yet. Unfortunately (or not?), modern feminism has never truly appealed to me as particularly insightful. Both in identifying the real issues and in actually trying to fix them with the appropriate attitude and measures. To be honest, I don’t think modern feminism is ultimately concerned with absolute fairness. And yet, modern feminism can hardly said to be worse than the implicit and rarely intellectualized philosophy some men seem to act out when they treat women as less than autonomous humans. As a result, I am stuck somewhere in the middle, searching for truth and fairness and actively trying to avoid falling prey to either ideology or feelings of resentment. Continue reading Is there Hope for Peace in the Gender Wars, Part 2

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Isn’t it a bit strange how inconsistently modern western culture approaches the topic of feelings?

On one hand, in the societal and political arenas, feelings seem to be more important than facts. Being offended is having won the argument, no further discussion allowed.

Yet, when it comes to relationships, feelings are suddenly a sign of weakness. Isn’t it amazing we have become accustomed to phrases like “catch feelings”, as if feelings were a sort of disease to be avoided or cured? 

The truth is, young western people today are learning to approach their sexuality in an incredibly strange manner. It all begins with an open embrace of online dating as primary (hello Tinder) and the subsequent alienation and real-world awkwardness that occurs. Then it all continues with a manipulative fascination with power. Who will message first? Who will message last? At what time? How much time before the next message? How much time before you text him/her after the first date? Continue reading Sex and Feelings Today

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These days it seems ever more trendy to find novel ways of bashing masculinity. The narrative has been so skewed by ideology that any out-in-the-wild masculine behavior is seen as wrong or misguided. Guys are told to be more caring, less aggressive and more vulnerable. They are told they are toxic and that’s the reason why the world is bad as it is.

Frankly, such patronizing talk is quite annoying. Especially so, when no one on the other side seems to consider that there are good reasons why men behave the way they do.

Incidentally, I am far from ecstatic about the term “masculinity” and its use as a prescription of certain male behaviors. Yet, there are certain patterns one cannot help but recognize among most men, the few exceptions to them notwithstanding.

I wanted to write this post because I have spent years trying to understand what it means to be a man and why certain things appeal to me and others don’t. Throughout this journey, I have seen and heard many opinions about masculinity. Sadly, very few of them rang true. At least to a young guy like me, most things said out there about what being a man means seems at best out of touch and at worst a malicious attack on what is construed as an ideologically problematic group of people.

I want to stress this last word: people. It’s a sign of the times that this needs saying, but: men are people too. In other words, we do make mistakes and our views are not always right. But the same applies for women and everyone in general. To single out the bad without acknowledging the good in a person is not only to be biased and unfair, but to demand perfection in a world which has none.

Before I begin, I want to stress out that I understand the topic naturally involves generalizing statements which I’d prefer not to make. But the term masculinity is itself a sort of generalization  which we as men supposedly all possess. And since that is the language of the accusations leveled against men, that will naturally be mine too (even if I’d much rather deal with separate individuals as opposed to abstract groups)

With that said, let’s talk about men. And what better place to start than the much discussed male sexuality. Continue reading Modern Lies about Masculinity

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At the occasional moments when sexuality transcends the confines of one of society’s greatest taboos, it is often spoken in the context merely of a physical act. 

Indeed, in an attempt to redeem as much as possible from the realm of the sexual, we have ended up with a conception of sexuality too narrow and uninteresting. As a result, we do many sexual actions  such as dressing provocatively, staying in shape, covertly flirting while at the same time feeling the inner need to deny their sexual character.

In the past few years, analytical as I am, I have been thinking a lot about sexuality. More precisely, I have been pondering what a life looks like that takes the sexual just as seriously as, say, a pursuit of knowledge or beauty. Elevating sex to such a high degree might seem a strange thing to do, but for me such a view has been the result of a rejection of religious norms and an honest introspective look at what it is that makes my life enjoyable. The way I look at it is this: virtually everyone enjoys sex, but few consciously design parts of their life around it.

Consequently, my view of sexuality has broadened up. A deep and careful look into what makes for a good sex has led me to develop or strengthen multiple new interests. Crucially, the act itself, albeit important, has been transformed into a mere culmination of many distinct pursuits — artistic, intellectual, corporal. Continue reading Sexuality beyond the Act

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Girl leading boy into the unknown

“I can’t. I don’t know you well enough yet.”

There can be no discussion about sex without at some point wrestling with this phrase.

As I talked about in a previous post, ever since the decline of organized religion began, the role of sex in the west has slowly been getting less and less clear. Nobody knows anymore whether we should continue holding sex as sacred and if so, why?

Finding itself at the intersection between the divine commandments of the past and the natural human sexual instincts, the west has thoroughly confused itself on the topic of sex.

The result? 

Incoherent messages stemming from a mixture of highly conservative and radically liberal ideas. As those who read my first post on the topic know, quite a few of these ideas draw out the implications of seeing sex as a form of communication. 

The conservative case has always been one of caution. Yes, sex is great at building intimacy and communicating a deeper part of you to your lover. Yes, sex creates strong bonds. But that’s precisely why sex should best be exercised with caution, within a relationship or, if possible, marriage.

On the other hand, the liberal case takes the bonding power of sex and embraces it firmly. After all, If sex bonds us all so well, let’s have more of it. It’s fun. It harms no one. And it makes life that much more enjoyable.

On the surface, it seems that both sides agree that sex is a form of communication. But look deeper and you begin to see the nuances and the implications of each position. Continue reading Sex with the Unknown: Why I hate “I can’t. I don’t know you well enough yet”

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Woman kissing a naked body

It’s hard to write about youth and freedom while staying silent on the topic of sexuality…

Now, everyone sees sexuality in their own particular ways. Some might try to ignore it or keep it secured away from others. Others, however, as is clear from the media, perceive of their sexuality as a key ingredient to freedom.

Indeed, judging from the newspapers and the TV shows around us, one could imagine that sexuality would also be a key ingredient to our day to day conversations too.

Yet, the opposite has always seemed true to me. The topic of sexuality is still in the high-trust zone of sacred ideas we only ever dare talk through with a few select others. That the topic is in the media might only demonstrate the bottled up demand for a conversation that is otherwise too difficult to have. Continue reading Sex and the West: An awkward symbiosis

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