I don't think we realize just how negatively social norms can impact men as well as women. We tend to think of women because they are the most oppressed by them, but men have their share of undue and inhumane burdens placed on them by ridiculous standards of masculinity perpetuated by our modern culture. These standards normally take the form of what we have come to call Toxic Masculinity, which can be just as harmful to men as women.
When I am driving home, there is an electronic billboard as I enter the City. One thing it has advertised in recent times is gambling, telling the viewer that they have the opportunity to win big, and the picture is of a smiling man being kissed by a woman. To a man, this says that if you get lots of money, you'll get the women, so come try for it. Men are commonly told this a lot, "no romance without finance." We are taught that our value is in how much money we have, and the only worth we have to the opposite sex is that dollar amount. If a man fails to live up to the success of being wealthy enough to basically buy a woman, he has failed in his manhood. Once this has been established in the minds of men, all of their self-esteem is in this flawed ideal. It also hurts women because it trains them to look for money alone, and not necessarily a partner who is good for them.
For the longest time, I even viewed myself through this scope. I would think back to some of the women I fell in love with and lost, and convinced myself that if I had been rich, they would have never left me. And for argument's sake, that might have been true in some cases. But it keeps men from finding true love, and creates immense self-loathing the vast majority of the time. Men are bombarded with sexual goals by social norms. Not only are we told the above, but also that our success as a man is marked by how many women we've slept with. That's why as early as middle school the boys bragged about having sex on a regular basis. Of course they hadn't, but that social norm of being a man through sexual achievement was burned into our minds from birth, and so we were willing to even lie about it, if it proved our manhood. Modern sexual and social norms have really made mental prisoners of both men and women.
Part of my work as a writer, philosopher and teacher has been to help free my fellowman of this ridiculousness and exploitation. For starters, I've never tried to "afford" a partner, because if she's only with me for money, she's not really with me. And second, I've had my fair share of sexual partners throughout my life. What matters is the strength of your honor and virtue as a man. I'm certainly not saying that sexual satisfaction isn't important. In fact, I don't think we place enough emphasis on it in relationships and life in general. Humans are sexual beings, and that part of us needs just as much care and reverence as any other. In our 12 years together, my wife and I have never lost our passion for one another, and it's one of the things that makes our relationship powerful and exciting. Sex IS important and sacred. But you can be a great man no matter how much or how little sex you've had.
I am aware that these norms are still abundant in our society, but when I saw the billboard in my City, I was a little more disappointed to see it in the liberal state of Illinois. It is certainly free speech, but I would like to think that the people of our state are more enlightened and dignified.
In the Goodness of the Gods,
Courage and Honor,