Depending on our influences the role of sex in our lives varies. But we are all aware of the stereotypes of the seductive, philandering man who uses sex as a medal of achievement. When we are younger many of us will approach sex as a game. We gain status among our mates for our number of conquests. We compete with our mates to see who can sleep with the most women in the shortest possible time.
Sexual preference still plays a large role in defining ourselves as men. Many from the older generations hold strong opposition to the current openness expressed today to homosexuality. We cannot see how it is natural. There would be no population growth if we were all meant to be gay. We don’t like the idea that it is trendy to be gay. We feel it creates confusion and blurs the boundaries that are so important for healthy sexual expression. In general, our sexuality shouldn’t be a trend.
Yet, we accept that our sexual preference is part of who we are when we are born. The process of puberty introduces us to our sexual identity and is an essential element to masculinity. Even with the changes in society we would rather a man be attracted to a woman but it they are gay then it’s important they can be honest about it. In our time, it was the ‘dirty old man’ that was the face of homosexuality. This is outdated and outmoded thinking but was what we were opposed to.
For many of us homosexuality and gay men are only a threat until we meet someone who is gay. It is the fear of the unknown; the images that are portrayed to us that make us think things about people who are gay that creates those fears. We then begin to understand that it is a private matter; a private choice individual’s make. But even so, many of us question the over the top behaviour displayed by gay men. It may just wreck it for everyone else. We wonder if they behave like this because they haven’t accepted themselves. It would appear that for some of us, whether we are homosexual or heterosexual, we need to express our sexuality out into the world for everyone to see. If sex is the only way we express our manhood, we’re in big trouble.
If we are gay, then we feel deeply that sexual preference is predetermined. It is as natural to us to be who we are, as it is to straight men. Our sexual preference doesn’t determine who we are. It is a part of us, not the whole of us. Honouring our sexual preference takes courage. It instantly makes us a minority; we are the odd ones out. We have to face others prejudice. Because we are men, there are many assumptions made about us before someone even begins to converse with us. Being gay men, we have to overcome those assumptions; those limitations on who we are, to be true to ourselves. Not all gay men are alike. In fact, we are as diverse in expression, as are straight men.
The shadow or negative side of men’s expression of sexuality is the paedophile, sleazy, rapist. We see this as the sick part of society. We believe these men need to see their own illness. They are a threatening presence to other men, women and children. This is who we must protect women and children from.
But there are subtler expressions of our shadow that impact on women in daily interactions.
For some of us, women are scary. They bring out feelings of vulnerability and sensitivity that are not part of our normal manly feelings. As men, we have been encouraged and congratulated, when we don’t feel. Yet when we do this, we remove ourselves from being aware of other people’s feelings.
At the extreme end, this allows us to abuse others. When we cut off from our feelings we turn life into a game. Everything becomes an object we are to manoeuvre, conquer, beat, and out-play. As such women are turned into objects; pawns who we fantasize about, idolise, play with, drool over, cheer and whistle at, leer over and keep at a distance, emotionally. It keeps us safe, emotionally, but severely hinders our connection and communication with anyone who makes us feel vulnerable, in particular women and children.
For those of us able to stay connected to our feelings and move beyond our fears, healthy, respectful sexuality is a beautiful and loving experience. Some of us have been raised with the concept that the penis is sacred and therefore are not so concerned with its size. We have had the importance of safe personal and sexual boundaries emphasised. We have learnt that to honour and celebrate the gender we were born into, is to experience the ultimate culmination of that through a sexual and intimate exchange with a partner.
The sexual act is held with reverence. We partake in it, with sensitivity and dignity. We surrender ourselves to our partner, as they do to us and we become one. There is no other experience in life like this spiritual-sexual union. We are evolving as individuals, and as a couple, when we do this. This isn’t something we can obtain in a one night stand. It is a genuine celebration of men and women’s sexual prowess without connotations of power and without one being better than the other.
Men can’t be men without women. To know ourselves, we must have our opposite. Although as gay men we believe we can achieve this through our relationships because all gay men are not alike. We can’t separate sexuality from life, just as we can’t separate money and assets from our existence. Life is about balance. We must learn to balance all the parts of our lives and who we are to function and lead the way.
A high calibre life is one where we balance our sexuality, our self-confidence and our financial capacity. As men we are expected to be potent. If we can’t perform in any area of our lives we have problems. We believe it is our role to make the difference, even in our most intimate relationships.
What insights has the lover archetype given you? What experiences of the lover archetype have you had?