I read, recently, a discussion of rape in the comments on a blog post (I can’t track down the blog to send you there, but the truth is, neither the post nor the comments were really compelling).
But among the commenters was a man who gave extremely inarticulate voice to a familiar sensation. This commenter – not a particularly intelligent or sympathetic man – translated a fairly common heterosexual male frustration (“I can’t easily have sex!”) into a totally incoherent, and frightful, argument in favor of rape: rape, he argued, is an inevitable consequence of male sexual frustration borne of women’s failure to put out on (we men’s) demand.
This is such a ludicrous argument that (at least among readers of this blog) it requires no rebuttal.
But, in his deluded anguish, I saw a refraction of myself, at times: it is frustrating as a male mammal not to be able to have sex whenever I want. Not in a way that justifies rape (or harassment, or any sort of misbehavior). But in a way that most straight men will, at a minimum, recognize as an at-times frustrating (and yes, even maddening) aspect of straight male life.
In my late teens and early twenties, I romanticized gay male life in its almost complete lack of this particular frustration: a gay man can find another gay man with whom to hook up very easily. In the days before the internet, there were places where this could happen, where men could cruise one another and, inevitably (or at least close to that) find a mate. Now, with Grindr, it’s even easier.
In my late adolescence, there was certainly a seductiveness to this fantasy. If, every time I wanted to get my dick sucked, I could, if every time I wanted to find a pussy to lick, or to fuck, I could, my life would look, um, very different. (As an adult, and an adult with a history of compulsive sexual behavior, it’s no longer clear to me that this would, necessarily, be better. But it would be different. And certainly cheaper.)
I would wager that there’s not a straight man alive who hasn’t felt this visceral frustration. (Shit – I’ve heard women articulate it, and “obtaining sex” is far less of a challenge for you than for us.)
I do fantasize about a world in which sex (and not just sex – sex with new and unfamiliar partners) is easier to come by. So do other men. This may not be why strip clubs exist, but it certainly has a lot to do with how they exist. Ditto the sex work industry, in general. Think about it: at every strip club (I’ve ever been to?), at some point every evening is a periodic assembling of the “dancers” on the stage, so that the customers can see before them just how much pussy, how many asses, how many breasts, are available to them, all simply for the asking. If you go to any “escort service”’s web site, you’ll see a bevy of beauties (or not-so-beauties) presented for the clients to select among.
(A sidenote: the Emperor’s Club – an online escort service made famous by Eliot Spitzer – practiced a fascinating form of price discrimination while catering to the male hunger for variety and availability by listing its escorts in multiple pricing categories, under multiple names. So a client who wanted a thousand-dollar-escort might well get “Sarah,” a woman available to those who wanted a $500 escort as “Michelle,” and to those who wanted a $5,000 escort as “Xaviera.” Same woman. Different name. Different photos. Different price.)
There’s no real conclusion to this post. Just thought I’d share my thoughts.