It’s a moral panic

Male sexuality has become a moral panic in the United States. I’m going to offer a few thoughts on this. Although one cannot quantify the relative influence of each, each has also certainly played a role in the panic.

Without an ideology that states men are categorically the oppressor and women are the oppressed, this panic would be much harder to sustain, or it would at least cross sex boundaries to include both male and female perpetrators. For reasons of culture and evolutionary psychology, it’s possible that men are more likely to commit these acts. However, I guarantee you there are plenty of powerful women who are guilty of the sort of sexual harassment that we are now demanding men lose their careers over, whether that include exhibitionism, touching someone’s leg, giving someone a back massage, etc.

As a culture, we have decided that male sexuality (especially black male sexuality) is dangerous. Part of this is rational, as men are certainly physically stronger than women and probably have higher libidos than women, on average. Combine those two genetic factors and you have a recipe for a problematic social dynamic. Just as people become fearful of black men due to their higher rates of violent crime, people become fearful of men in general due to their higher rates of sexual violence. It is sort of justified on an individual level but has dangerous implications when expressed at a societal level. Since male sexuality is seen as threatening and female sexuality as benign, you get men publicly shamed for the slightest expressions of their sexuality, while females get off the hook.

Men and women are both to blame for this, as are the complex interplay between the various cultural, biological, and ideological elements. For instance, male heteronormative culture does not generally see female homosexuality as disgusting or problematic. Quite the opposite, it is often highly desired. However, it sees male homosexuality as extremely disgusting and problematic. This view is semi-liberating for female homosexuals (although it still objectifies them), while also being deeply oppressive to male homosexuals. In a patriarchal, heteronormative dominated world, female homosexuals are at an advantage to male homosexuals for similar (although not the exactly the same) reasons that homosexual male sexuality is condemned, while homosexual female sexuality is embraced.

Does that mean we should start publicly shaming women, too? No, it means that we should realize we’re all apes trying to navigate in the world, and we should cut each other a bit more slack. It’s hard to say how much slack is too much slack. But if we are absolutely dead-set on going to go down the public shaming route, it absolutely must be one where we publicly shame powerful women for all of their perceived sexual missteps, as well.