Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The "New Man": best friend, not boyfriend material?

I'm just back from Germany, where a public debate of sorts is taking place regarding the "New Man" and the question how successful this masculine model is, particularly in bed.

A frequent argument, which you may have heard before, is  that women nowadays expect men to be New Men - sensitive, understanding and caring, yet at the same time, they want them to be "Real Men" (whatever that's supposed to mean) in bed, because real men, or machos are allegedly the better lovers. Some even say that the "New Man" isn't boyfriend, but best friend material only.

Among the ideas that are being thrown about is that women and men are and should be different, and that if we mess with this difference, we're not going to have much fun in bed anymore. The cliché is that sexist, macho men have a certain egotistical streak in bed, they do their thing and don't care what she wants, are a bit rough. All of this is supposed to be a real turn-on. Most important of all, however, the assumption is that they all have a humungous sex drive. They're supposed to be just wild in bed, an animal! Their overpowering sex drive is what sweeps women away in a wave of pleasure!

Cliché 1: machos have a huge sex drive, New Men don't
Well, here's the thing. No matter what type of "woman" or "man" you are, your sex drive will not be bigger or smaller whether you are a macho, sexist, a "New Man" or a "New Woman", a Catholic priest or a nun. It'll be a completely personal trait, which will vary depending on your personal circumstances, and over time. First of all, I don't buy into women having lower sex drives than men. That is the falsest, stupidest, most harmful cliché ever. Second, some people don't have a sex drive at all, and some will even refer to themselves as asexual because of this. Others had a huge sex drive as a teenager when they first discovered the pleasures of masturbation. Then they lose their virginity under awkward, painful, embarrassing circumstances, as you do, and they don't really fancy sex anymore. Others have the same experience, but their sex drive isn't affected. For some people, sex is a way of releasing tension when they're stressed. Others find that stress of all sorts decreases their sex drive.

While all of these factors can have an influence on your sex drive, I don't see any correlation between sex drive and being a macho, or the anti-macho "New Man". Maybe what people mean is that for machos, sex has a relatively higher status than for New Men, because a New Man can listen to you, express his feelings, and interact with you in a whole range of ways, and sex therefore is only one among many ways of being together for New Men, whereas machos master a relatively limited range of expressions.

Cliché 2: New Men aren't aggressive enough in the bedroom
In addition, machos reputedly just go for it in the bedroom, whereas New Men think too much, overanalyze things, are too hesitant and not aggressive enough. This leads us straight on to the next alleged sexual characteristic of machos, which comes hand in hand with their alleged higher sex drive: that machos are more of a driving force in bed, domineering, more aggressive, less responsive. One journalist writes about her New Man lover: "I wish he would just grope me and pin me to the wall. Instead we just sit and talk for hours". Or, as Eliza sings in My Fair Lady: "Haven't your lips longed for my touch - don't say how much, show me! ... Say one more word and I'll scream!"

Whether sensitive, New Men really talk too much and whether they aren't forward enough when it comes to sex, I don't know. You could ask the same question about women. Are women not aggressive enough sexually, do they overanalyze things and talk too much? If they are, then how can they expect men to be different? If, as a woman, you think it's ok to expect a guy to have these characteristics, you should be prepared to also accept that he expects you to be submissive, passive, to be the primary carer for your children, to do the cooking and cleaning, and to enjoy what he does to you in bed, even if it isn't really working for you. Awesome, eh?


  1. After I have to realize that I really am a macho, I also have to confess: the more I became that way (as I see it), the less sex drive I had.
    The formular was and is: More stress > less analytical thinking > less self regulation > more sexism/racism/elitism + other shit that helps simplify the world
    And of course: More stress > less sex drive > less emotions&creativity in bed

  2. Thanks for replying:)) I haven't been getting many comments lately!