Male Libido As An Analytical Reference Point

Recently, I was having a conversation about the question of sexuality during which I found myself explaining how I use the theory on gender binary, where male is imagined as active and female is passive to explain the culture of mahremiyet in the context of Turkey and of the Eastern Mediterranean. The person I was speaking with was an especially flirty man in his sixties. Later on in our conversation, he decided to make a statement. As we were leaving the venue, just before we turned to different directions, he took one step up on the stairs (appearing taller than me), approached really close to me, leaving only an inch between our faces (an attempt of intimidation), said with a big but grinning smile, that "women do pose beautifully on photo shoots, they are being active there".  His intimidating body language would not work on me, because I grew up in a city where personal space simply did not exist. That is daring, I told him. He continued speaking. "And I try to lose weight every year before going to a beach because I want women to look at my body."

It is pleasant to live on the moon, where "sexual harassment" does not exist. It is pleasant to live in a (heterosexual male) body and walk on earth with that body, where proudly presenting it (to the opposite sex) would never, not even hypothetically, result in legitimising the rape you might become the victim of*. That way, comparing male and female norms would sound unobjective, as the objectivity would be achieved by assuming the norms will never lead to gendered violence.

I would like to take a step back and revisit this thinking: "men lose their power over women if the woman is attractive." What sort of power are we talking about? It sounds off like a random rapist's claim that he lost control of himself. Even if that losing control or power does not result in any form of sexual harassment, it still puts a man's libido at the centre of analysis. As if power is not about a social mechanism, but a man's ability to desire and to resist temptations. Expecting their libido to stay at the centre of analytical canon keeps popping up even in scholarly conversations.

*Men do become victims of rape and the fact that it is silenced makes male rape especially difficult subject to handle for the victims, legally and psychologically. That is the subject of a much longer debate I am very much looking forward to bring forward.


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