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A Perspective on Male Sexual Entitlement

16 August 2017 Posted by No Comment

‘Surely it’s a lady behind the wheel!’ is a phrase I’ve heard being used many times to describe rather discordant drivers on the road. Is it because women are generally reckless drivers or that men are always proper in their driving? The accident rate in the country and the stories behind them may actually say otherwise. Nonetheless it’s always the women that get the blame for problematic driving. This got me thinking, is it because throughout history it’s the men in our families that have been the professionals? In our patriarchal society, boys are groomed to be tough, encouraged to take up lucrative careers and work hard; because after all they need to take care of their family and parents. More often than not, women are given a backseat as they are supposedly meant to be in the kitchen, taking care of the family – sometimes even from a very young age. This is probably why, when we see a woman driving, that too being reckless, we feel it is okay to pass such remarks!

After much thought, I have come to realize that male sexual entitlement too can be associated with how one is brought up. In our case, we expect men to be the breadwinners and we often see them higher up on the hierarchy of companies. We have sculpted for ourselves a model where, we are dependent on the males and in such that we create the mentality that women cannot do without them. It is rare to see women in skilled industries such as engineering, IT techs or drivers. We rarely see a lady tuktuk drive. Sometimes when women are seen higher up on the executive ladder, their decisions are deemed ruthless and bitchy too! But had that been a man, the very same people may have turned around and congratulated him for being business minded.

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Recently, a friend of mine who is also a successful business woman chose to expand her business and embark on a new venture. In doing so, her branding fell very close in line with that of someone else who was in an entirely separate field. Let’s just say the exchange of words and the social media commentating was rude. Harsh enough that, ‘the bitch without creativity’ had to look at an entirely different approach. I’ve wondered time and time again if it would have turned out the same if my friend were a man. I think the other party would have subdued to him and heard him out when he explained that their businesses were separate!14907027_1153138944762417_8078298224821444913_n

Although the correlation between our upbringing and entitlement may have the earmarks of being seemingly harmless and easily shut down saying ‘this happens only in extreme cases,’ the numbers of sexual assault cases and rape culture is growing. What we fail to realize is that, while rape is on the extreme end of the spectrum, simple acts like catcalling, and sizing up women on sight still fall within the scope of rape culture. The ‘ah nangi’ or the signature whistle at a passerby attractive woman are not the only forms of catcalling, the ‘nice ass’ or ‘I’d tap that’ for the banter and sizing a lady up (visually undressing her) also does fall under such. I’m not denying having done so, but I have neither stopped people from doing it. Why?

It’s probably because as a boy my surroundings have imparted on me that it’s what we should do and if you don’t, you’re probably not entirely right up there. In simple words, we have been influenced as youngster from different sources like television, music, pop culture and friends and peers alike that men are superior sexual beings and women just exist to please them – which makes it okay to do such and even feel that women enjoy it.

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Within some social circles in Sri Lanka, dating below the age of 18 is accepted and I come from one of those. Of course, my parents made it very clear that studies come first on the list of priorities, and I do agree with them. However, what I’m actually trying to get at is that girls and boys alike, scale the extent of their relationship by how much they have achieved sexually. I’ve been in the midst of countless conversations where girls contemplate having sex with their boyfriends. Some of their reasons are simply that, ‘guys need it’ and that’s how they grow closer in their relationships. This is also what leads men to believe that they are entitled to their partner’s body in an intimate partner relationship – it becomes almost a duty for the woman to please the man sexually.In fact, we live in a country where marital rape is not even a criminal offense unless and if in case of a divorce/separation.

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At the risk of sounding extremely feminist, I have so far penned down my thoughts on how women are affected by male sexual entitlement. But let’s not forget that it affects men too! There are certain precedents set for boys while growing up. They are expected to be tough and strong; loud and boisterous! Many times, I’ve seen and heard parents let their children get away with things, simply because ‘boys will be boys.’ My parents always pushed me to do sports simply because I was a boy and that’s what I should be doing. While it is all good and well that I should be fit and acquire the skills of teamwork and team spirit that sports offers, I never saw the female cousins in the family being forced as much as the boys were. Boys are expected to conform to this general notion, so much so that even in their young years it shows.

As a very young boy, I loved to read, but a lot of my friends thought it was a bit funny given I’d rather curl up with a book than join them with their game of cricket. Of course this changed as time went by and they realized how important reading was, but the fact that young boys are driven into male entitlement from a young age is rather unsettling.14715637_1111388672270778_3321193401107043723_o

As men grow up, they also tend to suffer from side effects of entitlement. For instance, rejection is always a hard kick to the ego. It has become almost unnatural for some men to be rejected, so when they do, they lose out on the opportunity to remain friends with the women too. Those who cannot or do not know how to handle the denial of sex can be a part of and reinforce rape culture. In a serious case of ego wounding, the might even turn into angry misogynists, which is never an ideal situation!

In short, male sexual entitlement is an issue that everyone seems to grapple with. It is a gray area that is hard to understand and equally, if not harder, to get rid of! So how do I feel about this as a young man who is constantly in the hot seat? Simply put, it is wrong solely because, no one is ever owed sex – not when they’re nice, not when they’re manipulative, not when they’re decent, not when they’re attractive and certainly not because they are a man. Dealing with it is also not as simple as black and white, so I think it’s simply up to us to check ourselves whenever we feel entitled to anything just because of our masculinity.

Courtesy bakamoono.lk 

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