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111. The hardwired impulses I have, but seldom talk about

I’m going to be a bit controversial, and say something which may set some people off.

I’m heterosexual cis-male. I identity as a feminist. I also discuss anything and everything, and am constantly trying to learn new things. This means that I get into fights on the internet. A lot.

A recent one was about men, who are “tempted” by women. It’s a classic. Since we men can’t control ourselves, the women we desire need to make sure they don’t tempt us.

The arguments are many, and they all have one thing in common: Men can’t control their desires, so women have to do it for them.

It’s not one I’m proud of, but it’s one I acknowledge. Maybe I’m the only who has it this way, but I doubt it. I’m sure there are many who don’t share my experience, but I’m pretty convinced there are some who do.

When I see a woman for the first time, my brain automatically supplies me with a “Sex/No sex” impulse. I see a man and get a “Fight/Flee” response without thinking about it. “Trust/Distrust”. It comes fast and it comes unbidden.

It’s still there, though, briefly registering in my mind before I squash the thought. I sat down in an airport waiting area (where I am now) and I look around.

Men are sorted into “Could probably beat in a fight if necessary” and “If this guy tries anything, I’m going to lose”.

This happens instantly and without me thinking about it. It happens even if I try NOT to think in these terms (and I have tried). It’s annoying. It’s not like I’m going to hit on every woman I find attractive, and it’s not like I’m going to fight all the men I think I can beat up. Most people are part of my life for mere seconds. Why do I need to sort them like this? It’s just a fact that I do.

It’s also not like I can’t change my mind, if I get past that first impression. Someone might have a smile I like, but a horrible sounding voice, or an annoying personality. A hulking guy might seem skittish and make me think “Huh. I could take him.” after a minute of conversation.

As said, it’s not that I WANT to label people this way. It happens completely without my intending to. And I can’t shut it out.

What I can do is control how I act. I can tell my brain to ignore the signals, and try to be a decent human being. This way, I can be served a beer by a smiling waiter, even when every bone in my body is screaming “He could snap you like a twig! RUN!” and I can answer a question from a lost tourist with “You should go that way.” instead of “You should kiss me.”

Luckily, it’s not like these impulses are in any way uncontrollable. It’s not that I’m a ticking time bomb of penis and fists. It’s just information that my mind feeds me; just like it tells me that the plane is white, the carpet is grey and the music I hear in my headphones has a nice guitar riff.

For me, this is part of how things are. Trying to deny it won’t make it go away. It’s not something that prevents me from functioning. It’s just part of life.

Yet, sometimes when I read internet debates, I get the feeling that others feel what I feel, but somehow feel dirty because of it. That simply by feeling these urges, they are transgressing. And then, instead of looking inward, they blame others. That teen girl with the hotpants and tight t-shirt. That shirtless guy. That person, you don’t know where to place on the gender scale, but who still gives you goosebumps.

It isn’t. It’s just how you’re hardwired. At least, that’s how I think of it. I can’t make the SAS folder in front of me stop being blue, and I can’t help but think “The guy in the seat next to me? If things get ugly, I can take him.”

And I think that’s worth talking more about. That it’s actually not a problem that I sometimes want to strangle people who annoy me, trust people because of how their eyes look and want to have sex with random women just because I spot them across a city square.

It’s not the info that’s problematic. It’s how I act on it. It’s what I DO with the information my brain feeds me that matters.

And it’s not thinking thoughts that make me a monster or a decent human. It’s how I act on my thoughts that counts. Because of course it’s not anyone else’s fault if I can’t control my urges. It’s mine. But maybe the reason I feel like this is because I’m so used to having these filters be a normal part of my existence.

Or is it only my head that functions like this, and have I unwittingly made myself into a monster by sharing this?

If you like my writing, and want to free up my time, so write more, you can do exactly that, by supporting me via Patreon.

If you want to get into contact, I’m easy to find online. So if it’s worth your time, search me out. I’ll do my best to answer. ;-)



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Claus Raasted

Director at The College of Extraordinary Experiences, Coach at McKinsey. Author of 34 books.