Mantalk: Why men are not believed when they turn down sex offer
What you need to know:
Men are socialised to believe that they should always want sex and that their masculinity depends on it
There are not many questions in life I have been asked that have stretched my jaw, but there is one that recently shone a light on my feet of clay.
I was at a shindig—muchas gracias to that hombre who is dishing out long-weekend holidays in Kenya like confetti—when I collided with two gargantuan breasts that were staring angrily against a thin t-shirt upon which was written my generation’s liberation cry: YOLO. (For the unsullied, that means You Only Live Once).
“Eddy!” she said, “How open-minded are you?”
“If it involves wash-wash I am not interested…although how much are we speaking?”
“Well, it’s not that kind of washing…” she said, laughing like a well-fed government official.
“Have you ever tried a strap-on?”
Those words seared through me like tongue-scalding hot coffee. I clenched my two butt cheeks (I swear) and let out a little dog-whistle scream. What would my beloved mother Saumu think of her favourite son who is currently serving the longest streak of 12 weeks (a new family record) as her WhatsApp profile photo? Mind you, this girl was barely twenty-something, myself on the wrong side of 25, a conservative whose idea of rebellion is adding honey to uji and using kitunguu saumu in lieu of kitunguu. (‘Kitunguu ni kitunguu,’ is my argument in public court.)
It’s not that I am a prude per seh; I have my own fetishes. In fact, I am willing to break protocol (and my editor’s belief) and spill the tea. My fetish is you throwing money at me. No, not like a stripper; I am more of an opportunist, a venture capitalist sorta-kinda.
“Look,” she said, interrupting my reverie, “I thought you are a man. Are you not confident in your masculinity? “Aha. That old wives’ tale again? Sexuality is a casus belli, the easiest stick to beat men with because it brings into sharp focus an area of our lives we all have misgivings. Those little snide comments, the ‘a real-man-would’, the ‘boys-don’t-do-that’, the ‘how-would-you-know-if-you-never-try’; all those sticks and twigs, dry kindling, burst into a furious bonfire inside me, I could feel the smoke bellowing from my ears. The more she insisted on that line of talk, the more my cup runneth over, and I in turn developed a distaste for the ‘sexually liberated’.
Not that I am completely agnostic, and while treading the gossamer fine line between being preachy and prim; will the sexually enlightened please turn it down a notch? When was ‘No’ never enough—which as it so happens, when it comes to sex, no is no synonym for yes.
I am not even pinning for the days of yore, the good ol’ days when sexual purity was the gold standard. Nay, my head may be in the clouds but I like my feet firmly planted in the ground. Today, we live in a society that is more secular, highly educated, marry later (if at all), less judgy, and definitely more sexually open. My great-grandfather used to be wary only of the occasional roving eye…but my generation’s men have to contend with everything in the bedroom…from swingers to porn (where the only metric that matters is speed, size, and strength), from masturbation to sex toys. Why do you think Isaiah, presumably with tears in his eyes after having foreseen the future of toys, wrote: “No weapon formed against me shall prosper…” I may have taken liberties with the gospel there but you get my point.
The truth is, being spoilt for choice is actually just being spoilt. This is not a paean to living simply; it is a paean to living sensibly, with moral judgement permeating. To abstain, essayist, Robert Louis Stevenson understood, is not necessarily to simplify; restrictions and repudiations can just as easily complicate one’s life. (Try dating a man who likes his eggs sunny side up cooked on medium-low heat.)
I recently stumbled upon a citation that Kenya records the third highest teenage pregnancies worldwide—worldwide!—and while that is a symptom of the age of the sexual revolution, it is not the malady. I have younger sisters and even if I’d love to pull the ostrich and bury my head in the innocent sand, we have to contend with the fact that this is the world we live in today. It’s facile to become the high priest of morality, but what’s more important is to teach the younger generation how to be responsible in their decision-making. How to say no. We are rotting from within, a flesh-eating disease, which explains my disdain for dating in Nairobi, where sponsors peeping at their graves are robbing the cradle in some sort of vampire love: she needs his money; he needs her youth.
To be absolutely clear, this is not a policing morality article. This is about respecting someone’s wishes when they turn down what you consider a normal request. Society tends to make it seem like all men ever think about is sex—that’s not true! We also think about why does kitunguu have two u’s at the end?
The naïve and wilfully blind tend to think that we revolutionised sex but not we haven’t. If you go down history (hehe), in the 18th century, people were already sexually liberated and the only thing that put a lock on it was the fear of sexual illnesses like Syphilis which had no cure. Women also feared getting pregnant out of wedlock, as it was much harder to get a well-paying job as a female then, and marriage was more or less a wealth preservation tool.
Sigmund Freud, the Austrian neurologist through his psychological sessions concluded that people mostly suffered from psychological illnesses due to sexual repression (Ladies, sometimes the cure to a headache really is great sex. You can argue with me but are you going to argue with Sigmund Freud?) By the time the birth control pill was approved in the 1960s, the stars had aligned and people were bonking each other like the end of the world had come. Lest I add that drugs became a part of the experience of sexuality ergo blurring the lines of consent and leading to many cases of sexual abuse, many of them unreported because how do you prove that which you cannot recall? Porn, that thing in your closet, acts as the agora of sexual maleficence, promoting genres such as incest, rape and bestiality. Porn has eroded the lines of consent, making it harder to see the boundaries. This is acknowledged if ignored as oxygen is acknowledged and ignored.
Talking about this gives perspective, because only now can we see its effects. We are all self-seeking; we are meme lords, the me-me generation, all about us. The message today is that we should be ‘free’ to do what we want when we want with whomever we want. Yet again, the consensus is that you should not infringe your values and views on others. What is this blowing hot and cold catch-22?
Now, like any other man worth his balls, I too am occasionally guided by a nice pair of tits, but the older I grow, the more cautious I tread. I don’t have a program of abstinence for you that may make the Buddha look like a Kardashian, but I will tell you this; it all comes down to choice.
I am not the Wikipedia version of a Christian, but I like missionaries all the same. Which is what I told this hot shot, who had a look of smug satisfaction on her face, hoping I’d acquiesce to her demands so she could do to me things the Sodomites could not hold a candle to. I may have been on heat, but she was too hot to handle. Or as it turns out, maybe the truth is, I am just not that open-minded.