Men’s Sexual Fear

A patient bends over an examining table as a doctor squeezes lubricant onto his finger to do a prostate examination.

By Andres Kogan Valderrama

HAVANA TIMES – If there’s one fear us men have, something we fear more than anything else, it’s the loss of sexual potency and performance. This seems to be an inescapable mandate of prevailing hegemonic masculinity, which people have to uphold if they want to be considered and labeled “men”, mainly by our partners.

This conclusion comes from different studies that show the huge difference that exists between men and women when it comes to looking after their health, both physical and mental, where men go a lot less to the psychologist and medical check-ups than women do, which reinforces the patriarchal idea that men are stronger and invincible.

Thus, we can deduce that men going to medical appointments for sexual and/or reproductive reasons is a lot less, at it puts this kind of masculinity in danger because they believe they don’t need help in this area, which is proof of our weakness and inability to accept problems, as we assume our own virility and manly nature is on the line.

It comes as no surprise then that few men know about a medical subdiscipline such as andrology and go to these visits, as it really is a taboo subject for us, making us dread going in our lives, because we are afraid to be the butt of jokes and ridiculed by other men, because we can’t do our job in bed and because we aren’t this ‘man’ we’re supposed to be.

Within this phallocentrism that we live in and that pressures us every minute, any sexual dysfunction we might have (hyperactive sexual desire disorder, erectile dysfunction, orgasmic disorder, vulvodynia, premature ejaculation) is seen as something we have to fix on our own and always in utmost silence so we don’t expose ourselves.

Andropause, for example, which refers to testosterone levels gradually declining, is a real disaster for lots of men, who prefer to self-medicate than go to see an andrologist to receive proper treatment for their situation, which proves our disconnection from our own bodies, which is the result of zero comprehensive sexuality education, both at home and in schools.    

The same thing happens with sexually transmitted diseases, where men go to the doctor a lot less than women, exposing our partners and putting them at risk, which should make us reflect about just how counter-productive it is for us and our surroundings to carry on subordinated to an irresponsible masculinity, which can be seen in how many men still refuse to use a condom, as it allegedly restricts them sexually.

Therefore, when it comes to reproduction, all of the weight falls on the woman at the end of the day, as she is the one who has to take contraceptive pills and visit the gynecologist from a very young age, while us men only end up going to an andrologist because the partner takes us a lot of the time, whether it’s to have children or because of some sexual dysfunction, which drags the idea that we are super fertile and sexually potent men through the mud.

It’s true and undeniable that men have become more aware of our bodies and we are looking after ourselves more now than before, which can be seen in the rising number of vasectomies that were carried out in recent years, but we are still far from where we need to be, which means being able to let go of the many mandates of masculinity, which are still being reproduced in different areas of life.  

That said, it becomes impossible not to talk about the fear men have of the dreaded prostate exam to prevent cancer, which is carried out in the man’s rectum, and just thinking about having it done is sacrilege, more so if you talk about it with anyone else, as it seems the anus is a prohibited part of the body for us, as it is a synonym for homosexuality, and as a result less manly.  

On the contrary, thinking like this reaffirms a homophobic idea full of myths about the prostate, as we know it’s called the P Spot, which has nothing to do with a person’s sexuality, proving once again that it’s the power of someone over another at the end of the day that is more important to many people than sexual pleasure, thereby reinforcing a toxic masculinity that we need to leave behind once and for all.

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