“It’s not so easy being a man,” I was once told by a construction worker who was also a body builder. He was referring to what he thought was the difficulty of living up to women’s expectations. Recently, President Trump remarked that it was scary being a young man today. He was referring to the danger of predatory women accusing them of sexual abuse when no such thing had happened. He was obviously thinking of himself when he spoke. Both remarks indicate a fear of women, a picture of women waiting to pounce if you give them a chance. Put another way, it is an expression of vulnerability.
Such a fear can exist even in men who pose as hypermasculine (“Macho”), such as those who fulfill the criteria of sexual addiction. If asked, none of these men would admit to being afraid of women, but their speaking of “conquests” suggests at the least that their relationships with women always involve conflict of some sort.
They may speak about the danger of being “trapped” into a long-term relationship or, worse, marriage. In a different context, such behavior is called “counter -phobic,” the strategy of overcoming a specific fear by obsessively confronting it over and over again. G. Gordon Liddy in his book Will describes his overcoming his fear of rats by capturing them, cooking them, and eating them. He overcame his fear of lightning over time by tying himself to trees during thunderstorms.
Some responses to my previous blog posts also allude to such a caricature of women. “All they want is to get you interested so they can reject you.” “They’re all bitches…. They’re vicious.” “They are super-choosey. No man is good enough.” These characterizations border on the myth of the “vagina dentata,” the vagina with teeth. Most reflect concerns that are unconscious, although one man told me recently that he was literally afraid of vaginas. Of course, the real fear is the fear of the powerful woman.
Insecure men are more likely than others to be afraid of women. Although their feeling of inadequacy may be reflected in all sorts of circumstances, including work, for instance, they may have specific self-doubts about sex. A common concern is that their penis is too small, or smaller than average, at least. If Lake Wobegon has students all of whom are above average, the dating population seems to have a majority of men who are below average in penis size.
Another common fear is the fear of losing one’s erection. Putting aside the relatively small number of cases of impotence that are physical in origin and that occur later in life, either from diabetes or nerve damage and such, most causes of impotence are psychological in origin. It is fear that leads to impotence.
There are many such fears: the fear of being found wanting on a first date, the fear of being caught in the act by a parent, the fear of doing “a bad job,” and so on. And the fear of failure itself makes failure more likely.
Between one thing or another, most men will experience some degree of impotence at some time in their life. Since failure leads to more failure, this condition tends to compound itself. The longer it goes on, the more likely it is to continue. Worse, the fear of the woman’s reaction, makes them more afraid. If a man starts off thinking women are nasty and predatory, their fears are worsened still.