Recently, I've been talking about men and feminism a fair bit, and not just in what I write, but in other places online and in real life. This is pretty normal for me, but what's a bit interesting is that a lot of these conversations have been around the relationship of men to feminism and in particular, what role men can play in supporting feminism and women in general.
The title above refers to a famous series of fitness and bodybuilding advertisements from the 1940's & 50's. The not so subtle suggestion in these ads, and many male-targeted ads and products since, is that masculine identity is primarily about being strong, about having power; often, masculinity is seen as something literally embodied. But that's not the case: masculine identity is so very much more than what can be seen, about so much more than expressions of power and dominance. And it cannot be bought from the back of a magazine.
Talk, images & representations of men and sex are EVERYWHERE in culture and society.
One recurring and dominant theme in our understanding of male sexual behaviour is the idea of the male "need" for sex. The common narrative for this concept of men's needs is one based on some sort of biological imperative, be that a study about some fundamental wiring in a male brain (or genitals) that requires men to regularly engage in sexual intercourse to maintain physical well-being, intimate relationships and a healthy sense of self. Or perhaps it is some essential part of the male brain, left over from our ancient forefathers - for whom constant procreation ensured the survival of the familial line, if not the entire species.
What strikes me again and again is the frequency with which cultural understandings of sexuality are reinforced and legitimised through this language of science.