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

I’m glad you mentioned the point about women feeling shame for finding men who are not of high social status attractive (in your reply to Brendon Carpenter). That was one thought I had while reading your article. The other thought I had was about historical and cultural context. Have humans ever inhabited a time when we had open and ‘healthy’ attitudes towards sex, as well as gender equality (or an aspiration towards this)? I don’t think so.

In the ‘West’ we are living in an era when sex has been partially liberated (from reproduction and marriage) and has also become an important aspect of relationships in a way it never used to be. Yet our ideas about it are still so shaped by old ideas of masculinity and femininity, or religious belief. Add in consumer capitalism and social media, and it’s no wonder we’re flying blind. Women unsure of what they want and how to tap into their own desires rather than searching for someone who will desire them in the ‘right’ way, and men shamed by and out of touch with their own desires, as this article is about. Remembering too that ‘the homosexual’ was a 20th century invention. Before then, marriage was heterosexual but people apparently had sex with whomever and did not think to attach an identity to this. Sex matters because it connects us with life and sometimes death (birth being dangerous), and it’s therefore appropriate (I believe) that it’s regarded as special, and socially regulated in some form. But placing so much emphasis on it in relationships, especially in their early stages, I am not sure that is so helpful. I think the risk is we lose sight of one another as people, and the challenge of getting to know one another holistically, beyond labels, formulas for seduction, and beyond just one dimension of the relationship.

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