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For My Son, A Kind of Prayer

For My Son, A Kind of Prayer

If the cur­rent, almost dai­ly rev­e­la­tions about the sex­u­al­ly preda­to­ry behav­ior of pow­er­ful men demon­strate any­thing, it’s the per­va­sive­ness of sex­u­al violence–against girls and women and men and boys–in Amer­i­can soci­ety...

from “Male Lust”

from “Male Lust”

Because a priv­i­leged man’s life is “unre­mark­able,” he is less like­ly to know how his social posi­tion affects his life. A “white” man knows he is “white,” but he is like­ly to have lit­tle idea how this iden­ti­ty shapes his social world, much less his sex­u­al­i­ty. He’s rarely forced to stop and think about it. Any inter­per­son­al or emo­tion­al dif­fi­cul­ties he might have are thus made to appear as indi­vid­ual wor­ries. This illu­sion of a ful­ly autonomous self lets priv­i­leged men act with less con­cern about the social impact of their actions—they are more “free” than oth­ers. Yet, this free­dom makes them less able to iden­ti­fy the links between their con­cerns and the larg­er social envi­ron­ment. Because of this hyper­indi­vid­u­al­i­ty, itself social­ly con­struct­ed, priv­i­leged men are vul­ner­a­ble to intense feel­ings of self-blame and iso­la­tion when some­thing goes wrong. It makes them less able to under­stand how their lives relate to the lives of those around them, and less able to respond to the social forces that dai­ly shape their lives.

—Ker­win Kay, “Intro­duc­tion,” Male Lust: Plea­sure, Pow­er, and Trans­for­ma­tion

from “Male Lust”

from “Male Lust”

Think of a judi­cial sys­tem that not only favors het­ero­sex­u­al­i­ty but reserves its favor for spe­cif­ic types of het­ero­sex­u­al­i­ty: not S/M—that could cost you your kids; not polyfidelity—that could cost you your kids too; not for pay—that could cost you your kids and put you in jail. Think of the African-Amer­i­can, Lati­no, and Chi­nese men who have been lynched for the mere sus­pi­cion of look­ing at a white woman. What­ev­er bio­log­i­cal ground our bod­ies pro­vide, “male lust” is clear­ly a high­ly regulated—and there­fore social—affair, shaped through a deployed and near­ly ubiq­ui­tous series of sticks and car­rots. Remov­ing these pres­sures, or adopt­ing a dif­fer­ent set, would rad­i­cal­ly change the way we think about the social/biological cat­e­gories “male” and “sex­u­al­i­ty.”

—Ker­win Kay, “Intro­duc­tion” in Male Lust: Plea­sure, Pow­er, and Trans­for­ma­tion