Men: Selfish or Misguided?

Saturday night I attended another Together Apart event–Straight Talk No Chaser—featuring a panel of six males (four single, two married) and an all-female audience.

The goal of the live convo was for men to give women some real answers to the questions they often ask their girlfriends about the men in their lives. There were four rounds of discussion, moderated by co-hosts Demetria Lucas of Essence Magazine and abelleinbrooklyn.com and Chris Kazi Rolle, the mastermind behind Together Apart. Famed Psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere gave a clinical wrap up after each round.

While round 1 was pretty straight forward regarding what goes on in a man’s mind during the dating process—basically if you’d like the relationship to go beyond the first date, then its best you not give up the panties that same night–round two asked the question, why are men such selfish lovers? I wasn’t quite sure which of the many possible routes this discussion was headed down, but the focus was selfishness in the bedroom—as in why are men not concerned about pleasing their partner.

The question operated under the assumption that men don’t want to please their women, which the panelists, for the most part, said wasn’t true—except for one who noted that if he’s not really interested in the woman then he could care less whether she enjoys herself or not—but nevertheless, men actually receive enormous pleasure from knowing that they’ve satisfied their woman sexually. Call it ego or whatever you want, just be glad it works in women’s favor.

Now whether the man actually pleases the woman is a whole different story, and if the answer is no, it really may not be his fault. Something that’s been on my mind since the last Together Apart event, Divine Intercourse, is the fact that women don’t take responsibility for their own sexual pleasure.

The first issue is the fake orgasm, as one panelist pointed out. How is a man supposed to know that what he’s doing isn’t working if a woman is screaming in what is perceived to be ecstasy, when she’s really thinking, oh God when will this be over.

The second issue is not speaking up. This stems from the Divine Intercourse convo as well where the resounding message from women during the open forum was that they didn’t communicate their sexual needs to their partner. Truth be told, this seemed to have less to do with being scared to hurt the man’s feelings and more to do with a lack of comfort with verbalizing their own sexual desires.

Women have come a long way in terms of sexual liberation, but we’ve still got a ways to go. A man isn’t necessarily being a selfish lover if he’s been led to believe that he’s handling his business. If that’s not the case, then it’s time to let him know. One panelist suggested that discussions about sex actually be had outside of the bedroom, and of course, the male ego has to be taken into consideration, otherwise he’ll just hear that what he’s doing is wrong, and you’re not pleased, and all hell will break loose, and then he’ll go cheat—oh wait that’s round three. Anyway, the point is that women can’t only blame men if they’re not pleased. And if all else fails, Dr. Gardere shared this takeaway: men, always make sure the lady comes first (literally).

The last round of discussion before women were allowed to fire back dealt with commitment. Though the dialogue drifted from the ideas of being selfish and misguided, from my view, they still apply.

The question was asked, why do men cheat if they have everything at home? It was pointed out that having everything at home is a big if since people tend to cheat because they’re relationship is not fulfilling. But just to let you know, not being fulfilled could involve something as simple as a woman starting an argument with her man, he leaves the house, another chic pushes up on him, and there’s nothing but space time and opportunity. In that scenario, there’s a good chance ol’ boy may just smash, hit, beat it up, etc and not feel guilty about it. Scary huh?

Then there’s this other issue of men always wondering if they’re missing out on something better by committing to one person. One panelist noted that one woman he was involved with sort of pushed him into a relationship that he wasn’t ready for, but since she was a part of his stable (I was praying he stretched that out to stability but no, stable) and he didn’t want to lose her, he just kept her in the rotation amongst other women. One vote for selfish please.

Luckily the married men had a little more insight into the fact that most times cheating doesn’t have anything to do with the woman. This is not to let women totally off the hook for their antics, but they recognized the fact that cheating is an internal issue. Even when things are right at home a man can still step out because of some inner demon that he doesn’t even realize or think is a problem (he’s just being a man) which is why I say the idea of being misguided applies to cheating as well. If men are looking for sexual satisfaction as a means to solve a deeper issue that they may not be totally aware of, the idea that they’re just “being men” is a false one that shouldn’t be given a pass.

It was added that the more things put at risk by cheating, the less likely a man is to cheat—his relationship with God, children, family ties etc. I struggle with this one because I’d like to think the commitment to the woman would be enough, along with the awareness of how hurt she would be, but here is where I have to bring in the ladies again. Only the married men said that they might be able to forgive their wife for cheating, while the remaining panelists vehemently said that they would leave. When the men were asked if they thought their woman would leave them if she found out he was cheating, without hesitation they all said no. Selfish and misguided. In response, Dr. Gardere used my favorite term—zero tolerance. When it comes to being cheated on, it’s up to women to have a zero tolerance policy for it. If a man thinks that there are no consequences to his actions, then there’s nothing to stop him from doing who he wants to do.

Moral of the story? Men are sometimes selfish and misguided (and need to stop writing books trying to tell women what to do and focus on themselves), and women also need to stand up for themselves and the things that they need in the relationship. Until we do that, we can’t point the finger at anyone else for our lack of satisfaction.

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