Masculinity connected to misogyny
Social pressure to lose virginity causes boys to use violence against women
A teenager from the United Kingdom was recently found guilty of attempted murder on three counts. Ben Moynihan, like Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodgers, enacted his revenge on random women for being ignored and “denied” by the women in his life, the chance to lose his virginity. As both of these acts of violence demonstrate, for boys, losing their virginities can be seen as an affirmation of manhood and masculinity. Unfortunately, the quest for manhood and gender norms surrounding virginity has caused men to lash out in deplorable ways against women. The fact of the matter is both girls and boys are stigmatized when they are virgins. Boys get made fun of and pressured by their friends to lose their virginities, and a similar scene plays out for girls. However, when boys and girls do eventually engage in sexual activities, boys are met with praise, and girls are often met with slut shaming. A boy will be congratulated and high-fived for the number of girls he sleeps with, therefore, the more the merrier. Yet, when a girl has more than one sexual partner, she is automatically considered loose, becoming the subject of derogatory slurs –– a modern-day scarlet letter.
In general, college culture is infatuated with sex –– it’s the goal at the beginning and the end of the night, it’s what everyone talks about on the weekends and what everyone waits for during the week. Yet there is no one conclusion that can be drawn about the importance of sex. It seems that everyone is pressured to do it at some point or another, but that choice ultimately rests with each individual. When it comes to losing your virginity, no one knows what to think or what to do, because there is no one way to go about losing your virginity. Everyone is different, and rightfully so. Sex is a personal interaction that people do or do not do in their own time, but the idea of sex is so heavily stigmatized in American culture that for some, there is no winning the debate. For women on one end of the spectrum, girls are told to hold on to their virginity for as long as they can, only losing it to the love of their life in a bed of lilies while the sun rises over the horizon. Yet, other girls are taught sex positivity, which may be the lesser of two evils. Girls are told to do whatever they want to do with their bodies, as opposed to living by some set of invisible societal standards. Alternatively, boys are taught to become sexually active sooner rather than later.
Gender norms affect men and women in distinct ways. In this sense, there is a visible connection between masculinity and misogyny, one that perpetuates the manifestation of rape culture and violence against women. The concept of masculinity and becoming a man is deeply rooted in how men are defined in terms of the women they associate with and whether or not those women are sexually attracted to them. Misogyny on the other hand can be considered to be the hatred or mistreatment of women. When a man can’t get what he wants, he may be driven to take extreme action, i.e. raping or killing women for not paying attention to them sexually. In the cases of Moynihan and Rodgers, both men reacted violently to the lack of attention they received from women. Alternatively, masculinity is still intertwined in language used to explain why women should not be raped or hurt. The term “Real Men Don’t Rape,” is still based upon masculinity, and how the characteristic can be defined in relation to women.
Everyone could stand to be a little more humane in their interactions with potential love interests or sex partners. Turning someone down is a personal choice that should not be influenced by others, but the way in which those situations are handled should always be handled with the upmost of care. It is important to be conscious of feelings and fears people experience while putting themselves in a vulnerable state when seeking a partner. It is impossible to judge how your interactions will affect someone else and their sense of self, but remaining courteous and straightforward may prove to be the most humane of options.