Men want what women want – love. Love does not mean sex. It means connection. Where does the myth come from that “men only want one thing” meaning sex?
It comes from the way we raise boys.
Boys start out as touchers and feelers and lovers. Over time, they slowly learn to shut all this down.
Girls and women are permitted, even encouraged, to be nurturing. The words “male” and “nurturing” are seldom used together. Boys and men are raised to be uncomfortable with touch, with their own feelings and the feelings of others.
As they grow into adolescence, all desire for love, connection and touch become reduced to genital sex. This is how you show love, and you can only “do it” with women. All other expressions of nurturance become suspect.
Sebastian Junger, in his book, Tribe: On Homecoming, says the thing men value most in war is not the pleasure of killing other people but the pleasure of close connection with other men. Men bond in battle in a way they bond nowhere else. Soldiers report that their main goal in combat is to protect and take care of each other. He believes the high rate of PTSD and suicide among veterans is caused by the loss of deep connection upon returning home to the isolation all men experience in North American culture.
A panel of five authors who have all closely studied the life of Donald Trump and each written a major biography about him was asked “What really motivates Donald Trump? What is he looking for?” All five authors answered the same way in one word – love. He was raised by an emotionally absent father, sent to an authoritarian military school at an impressionable age, and has been looking for attention, affirmation and love ever since.
To say that men are only interested in sex is like saying women are only interested in hair and make-up.
Men have as broad a range of interests as women do, but they share one deep core need with women – the need to connect. And not just with women, but with other men and their own children.
When this need is not met, men’s lives are reduced to a lonely, harsh world of one upmanship. They turn to work, money and possessions to find meaning. They numb themselves with video games, alcohol and drugs.
We need a men’s liberation movement lead by men who are able to express love in all the ways women do. Men need to claim their capacity for nurturance.
Media and popular culture depict men as violent, irresponsible, sex-obsessed predators. Men need to talk back to these images of themselves and redefine what it means to be a man – kind, nurturing, loving.
When your son shows sensitivity and nurturing behaviour, honour it. It is not weak or feminine. It is one of his greatest strengths. It’s what will make him resilient. Shutting down emotions and acting tough do not make a person stronger. They make a person weaker.