There is an underserved and neglected segment of the population when it comes to sex education and it is not who you think. Heterosexual, cisgender men. This group within society holds most of the power and privilege and yet, they are seriously lacking when it comes to sexual knowledge. Society perpetuates the idea that straight, cis men already know everything and that their lives are full of amazing sex simply because they exist.
Myths about sex are targeted at straight, cis men:
Sex is about taking what you want.
Sex is about orgasms.
Sex is about penetration.
Sex is a physical act not an emotional one.
Sex is easy.
Sex is plentiful.
You deserve sex.
Sex with women is your right.
You can have sex with “beautiful” women.
Sex is about quantity not quality.
Using protection during sex is negotiable and not your responsibility.
Your pleasure is more important than your partners.
A bigger penis is a better penis.
Body fluids can be put wherever.
Lube is for people who don’t know what they are doing.
You can have sex whenever you want.
How in the world are straight, cis men supposed to overcome these myths without help? The Me Too movement isn’t something that happened in a bubble for one moment. People who are subjected to the taking done by straight, cis men have been fighting back with fists or voices for centuries. This is not new. What is new and revolutionary is the push to educate, to change the narrative, to disrupt the cycle of undereducated men.
Houston, We Have A ProblemThe first step is admitting there is a problem. There is a problem in how we raise little boys to be men who perpetuate these myths. There is a problem with the lack of safe spaces for adult men to have real, truthful, and learning conversations about sex. There is a problem with a society that supports unhealthy, sexual competition. There is a problem when the only source of sex education for men is porn. There is a problem when the majority of women do not have orgasms from penetrative sex i.e. penis into vagina.
Only 18 percent of women have an orgasm from vaginal penetration alone.*
The second step is to find resources and help change the behavior. We have acknowledged that, through very little fault of their own, straight, cis men do not have the education or knowledge to succeed in sex. What does success look like? Success is dispelling every myth listed above and more! The solution to dispelling myths and solving these problems can be found in learning. It is my greatest hope that younger generations will not have to fight their way through misogynistic bullshit to listen to their sexual partners, to emotionally connect during sex, to respect all bodies, to always ask for consent, to accept responsibility for using protection against pregnancy and STIs, to learn more about sex than just sticking it in, and so on.
The third step is action. We have identified the problem, we are learning about how sex really works, and now it is time to follow through with the learning. In order to turn the giant societal boat of misogyny, everyone needs to be turning the wheel. Straight, cis men need to actively engage in the conversations, promote positive sex education, and admit that they have been excluded. As a feminist, I can hear the screaming of fellow feminists that straight, cis men have all the power and all the privileges, why should we help them? Because I stand in spaces surrounded only by womxn who are learning, exploring, and challenging their sexuality. Because I am quietly approached by men who are ashamed, embarrassed and afraid. Do you know that most men who approach me for help, apologize to me? They spend the first moments assuring me that they are not a creep and don’t want to hurt me.
We messed up. We screamed and yelled. We didn’t listen. We shamed. We failed all those little boys who were scared and didn’t know what was happening to their bodies. We left them in silence and something else provided their education.
Help Turn The ShipSex educators everywhere need to be trying to teach straight, cis men. Parents raising boys must allow for emotions and the safe expression of those emotions. Adults need to model consent. Straight, cis men need to come to terms with what their privilege and power has meant for them and then join the fight to dispel these myths.
My goal is to offer safe learning spaces for all humans and specifically, for straight, cis men. I need straight, cis men to show up and remember that they have been fed lies and myths for most of their sexual lives. I need straight, cis men to admit that porn is a source of entertainment not education. I need straight, cis men to be kind to each other.
If we can work together, turning the societal ship is so much easier!
Not All, Not Every, Not MeIt is inevitable that someone will point out to me that as a straight, cis man they have excellent sex with their partner(s) and do not fall into any of those myths I mentioned. Yay, good on you!
Do you openly use sex positive language when you are speaking to your other straight, cis male friends? Do you encourage education and dispel myths when you hear them? Do you ask for consent before touching another person’s body? Do you accept your emotions and speak honestly about your feelings? Are you challenging yourself to learn more about privilege, sexuality, patriarchy, and self-awareness?
You do! Awesome! Keep up the great work and I appreciate your help to turn the ship.
Shameless PlugIn November I am facilitating a sex education class for male-identified folks i.e. straight, cis men. Originally, I was just going to focus on vasectomies and the more I thought about it, the more I realized this needed to be a general sex ed class so that men could come and learn everything and anything!
Terms and DefinitionsIt often happens in my writing that I use terms that some folks may not be familiar with. Here are definitions to a couple of terms.
Heterosexual: sexual or romantic attraction for someone of the opposite biological sex; often referred to as someone who is “straight.”
Cisgender: a person whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth.*https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/neepb8/the-science-of-female-pleasure-still-needs-more-attention
Erin Brandt (she/her/hers) has been a sexologist for 15 years. When she’s not spreading sexual knowledge, Erin can be found learning from her child, hiking with her partner, cuddling with her pitbull, knitting with her cat, dancing with friends, and searching for the nearest hammock and ocean breeze. Want more? Visit www.positivesexed.com