Why Does Dating Men Make Me Feel Like Shit?
Emma Lindsay

While there’s a kernel of truth to this — that men can and sometimes do feel shame about having sexual responses to certain stimuli or having particular fantasies and fetishes — it assumes that sexual desire for men is in itself more than a physical feeling, but is instead an emotional feeling. The word “feeling” (which can cover everything from the feeling of having a heart attack, feeling the need to take a dump, feeling lonely, feeling bemused) appears to be applied to both physical and emotional sensations.

Furthermore all this analysis seems to proceed from projecting a distinctly female woldview onto a generalized “Male Psychology”. Being turned on for a man may not be that different than physically desiring say a sloppy looking chili dog when he’s hungry. He may even feel a certain shame about ordering and eating it. But the desire isn’t emotional, the hunger driving that desire isn’t emotional; only the self-reflection afterwards when weighing behavior-versus-societal norms introduces potential emotions of shame and guilt.

I completely agree that men generally assign the responsibility of their desire on an objectified woman’s body. But I would argue that is because it’s an implicit assumption that men are often sexually “hungry” — there’s no reason in a man’s mind to discuss the underlying desire (an incessant biological urge to procreate) and men are culturally conditioned to be “men”, and not draw attention to their needs or feelings.

A guy is more likely to simply state: “Damn, that chili dog looks pretty good” (and he’d happily eat it or maybe a donut or maybe a canister of Pringles or some buffalo wings or whatever) whereas a woman might be more inclined to include her own agency in the statement of desire: “I’m so hungry that chili dog looks amazing to me”.

It just wouldn’t be natural for a man to include a statement of hunger, but that’s not necessarily an omission driven by shame — just conditioning not to waste exposition on obvious stuff that would make oneself appear week or needy. Similarly if he relates: “I’m more of a burrito kinda guy typically, but I’m glad I got the chili dog” that’s not necessarily a guilty confession, just a shared observation.

In my personal experience it’s generally women who interrogate a man’s desire for them as though they always, perhaps from some deep-seated insecurity, doubt that a man could desire them sexually, and not settle for them until the next, more attractively packaged ovaries comes along. They interrogate and interrogate what for a man is a fundamental, yet inexplicable thing they aren’t conditioned to discuss: their own physiological urge to have sex with women. Maybe they’d be more comfortable sharing possible reasons they are or are not attracted to certain body types while laying down on a therapist’s couch — but that’s if they thought there was something inherently perverse about say being attracted to brunettes more than blondes. Again that urge isn’t necessarily shameful (though some certainly might be…), but even having to go try and analyze it at length is awkward for men who aren’t accustomed to deeply explore the psychologcal underpinnings of their sexuality (was his mom a brunette, a harsh first-grade teacher, his high school crush, etc etc).