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    Wednesday, August 31, 2005

    Apparently, this stood out to other folks too

    See my post on men observing childbirth and check out other discussion on Slate and The Examined Life.

    Meghan O'Rourke writes:
    The bloggers clearly felt that the men's desire (or lack of it) was objectively wrong, like that of a pedophile or a rapist, and ought somehow to be controllable. The animus against these men illuminates how powerful even relatively new cultural norms can be—and how dramatic the conflict is between what we think people should want and what they actually do want.

    First, I don't at all believe that the desires of pedophiles or rapists are "objectively wrong", but I do believe that child molestation and rape are wrong. Desire, in and of itself, is not what is being judged here. Second, like Ms. O'Rourke, I find one of the most fascinating things about sexuality to be the way in which one's desires avoid confirmation of one's most deeply-gripped beliefs.

    But here's the thing about the lack of desire these men feel: when women express a lack of desire for sex after childbirth, it is treated as something they must simply "get over", despite the fact that their bodies have gone through a seriously intense nine months, whereas the mainstreaming of these men's experiences via The New York Times legitimates them and comforts men in wallowing in something they should do everything in their power to get the fuck over.

    I do feel a certain amount of sympathy for men in that desire is trained in them via bizarre impossibilities from childhood and many spend their lives trying to reconcile actual sex with the sex they were schooled to want. But men can rise to the challenge or they can complain about the lives they feel trapped in, just like women can, and are expected to.

    Women learn to "settle" early on. These men feel entitled to rapt sexual frenzy. Women learn to find what's desireable in a man they care about. Men learn that months or years later, when their child pops out. It's those moments of arrested development that make women comment on how stupid men are.

    And finally, I think a lot of what I feel is sadness for the woman who thought she had a partner and found out she had a husband.

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