It’s a brand-new month, and so during August we are shifting gears and talking about how culture (particularly church culture) depicts a man’s sexual nature.
Are men really the way we tend to depict them sexually speaking?
In other words…
- Do men only (or constantly) think about sex?
- Are men always wanting sex and women not so much?
- Do all men lust and is that just part of their jacked up sexual mindset?
- Is porn primarily a man’s issue?
- Are men the ones that tend to cheat the most?
- Do women need to have sex with their men to keep them from straying?
And so on.
I know growing up I heard this type of messaging in one form or another often. For example, here are just a few of the common myths floating around out there that you may have run into (and the truth to those myths).
Myth 1: Men think about sex every 7 seconds… and women, not so much.
Fact: In 2011 Ohio State University conducted a study to track of how often a sample of 283 college students thought about sex, food, and sleep throughout a week. On average, men reported thinking about sex 19 times a day as opposed to women who reported a frequency of 10 times a day.¹
Worth noting, another similar study indicated numbers of 34 times a day for men and 19 for women. Regardless, both studies fell well short of the once every 7-second rule and indicated that the gap in preoccupation with sex between men and women is far narrower than one might assume.
Myth 2: Men Have More Sex Partners Than Women
Fact: In 2003 Alexander and Fisher conducted a study asking men and women the number of sexual partners they had while attached to what participants were told was a lie detector. As it turned out, women reported slightly more sexual partners than men.
Conclusion? This sexual stereotype is probably false.²
Myth 3: Men Are More Likely Than Women to Be Unfaithful
Fact: Ok, so on this one studies have shown that men hold a slight edge here. But it’s not the chasmic sized gap one might preconceive. In fact those same studies indicated that men and women under 40 reported similar rates of infidelity and also showed that the gender difference in engaging in extramarital sex is narrowing.³
Understand that while a bunch of “harmless myths” about men and sex may not seem like a big deal, they create an unspoken expectation for behavior that men then carry with them throughout their life.
In other words, they become a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Think about it.
If as a man you find yourself living in a sex saturated culture, and you grew up believing that sex is not only something you always want, but also always need, the prospects for maintaining a life of sexual integrity don’t look so hot.
It’s as if the cards are stacked against you and everyone already assumes you’re going to lose the hand anyway (including yourself).
The recipe for sexual brokenness is all around you.
- Advertisers and entertainment sell you sex.
- Pornography seeks to trap you with the lure of sex around every corner.
- Culture tells you that as a man you should always want sex.
- And then everyone paints you as the person who will eventually succumb to sex in the end if given the opportunity anyway (including the church).
What chance does a man have if he grows up believing he’s some sort of sexual beast that can’t control himself while everyone echoes the same sentiment?
After all, one of the keys to living a life of sexual integrity is the awareness that you can indeed do so in the first place. That you have choice in the matter and your fate isn’t sealed.
But so many guys (and especially Christian guys) lack this basic understanding.
And that’s unfortunate.
But what’s even more unfortunate is that the church tends to perpetuate these unhealthy mindsets.
In fact just this week I saw this Reel on Instagram.
I watched the clip, anxious to see what they said.
I won’t type it all out (you can watch it if you want here), but the basic two points were this.
Women – you don’t need to settle for men who look at porn or accept the cultural message that all guys look at porn, and it’s ok.
Men – porn is a poison and an addiction, so you need to stop it.
Now, while I don’t disagree with either of these sentiments at all… there is an issue here with stereotyping and the perpetuation of the idea that men are the only ones who really need help controlling their sexual urges.
- Why do only women not have to settle for partners who look at porn?
- Why do only women not have to accept the cultural lie that porn is ok?
- Why do only men need to stop their addiction (and btw, how do you do that anyway )?
The speakers here didn’t say this of course, and I’m not saying they meant to imply that only men deal with porn. But, the message still comes across that way and feeds into a very problematic gender role that much of the church buys into (men and women included).
The purpose of this post (and the ones to follow) is not, and will not be to simply bash how culture and the church views male sexuality stereotypes.
Rather, it is our intention to challenge some misconceptions out there regarding men and sexuality to provide hope for both men and women that we all are creatures made in God’s image with full authority over our sexual choices.
Men are not helpless, sexually voracious animals.
Women are not the gatekeepers standing in the way of sexual fulfillment.
Rather, we are both sexual beings that were created to enjoy and pursue sex in healthy ways. It’s just in our world, sometimes the path to doing this can get a bit messy, and so occasionally we all need a little help along the way.
And as always, if you have any questions about this or need any advice on your sexual and/or recovery journey, ask us anything you want HERE and we’ll answer your question in an upcoming Office Hours segment.
¹ Zane, Z., & Razor, C. (2021, June 9). Here’s How Often Men and Women Really Think About Sex. Men’s Health. https://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/a28483383/how-often-think-about-sex
² Fugere, M. (2017, February 2). 4 Myths About Men and Sex. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dating-and-mating/201702/4-myths-about-men-and-sex
³ Fugere, M. (2017, February 2). 4 Myths About Men and Sex. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dating-and-mating/201702/4-myths-about-men-and-sex