Crisis of masculinity, now in its 150,489th year

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“The Guardian” publishes something called The Week in Patriarchy, “a weekly roundup of what’s happening in the world of feminism and sexism” complied in the current week by Arwa Mahdawi. The top issue this week is an alarming revelation that  “Men [are] attracted to emotionally unstable women, preferably no older than 18, studies show”:

This week’s peer-reviewed portrayal of fragile masculinity comes to you from the journal Science Advances, which recently published a depressing new study about online dating. Researchers looked at nearly 200,000 heterosexual users and found that while men’s sexual desirability peaks at age 50, women hit their prime at 18. And then it’s all downhill from there apparently. Can I just remind you that 18-year-olds are teenagers, and so this study is basically saying that straight men don’t find women attractive; they like girls.

#NotAllMen, I’m sure. However, this isn’t the first study to find men are fixated on women a lot younger than them. A 2010 study by OKCupid found that “the median 30-year-old man spends as much time messaging teenage girls as he does women his own age”. No doubt Roy Mooremight have a thing or two to say about that.

I promise you I’m not here to promote the gay agenda and undermine heterosexuality, but I’ve got another alarming report to really top things off. A recent study, published in the Journal of Sex Research found that “men whose partners had less emotional stability reported better sexual function”. Sounds really healthy, guys.

While these studies may focus on sexual relations, they’re yet another reminder that we’re facing a crisis of masculinity that is reverberating across every aspect of our society. The far right is dominated by men, many of whom seem to be searching for a sense of identity. For feminism to get anywhere we must seriously address how we think about masculinity.

I’m pretty sure we have been facing this sort of a crisis of masculinity since the time immemorial. For as far back as we have evidence, written or otherwise, men, including much older men, have been exhibiting strong preferences for younger women, often much younger (not the least Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) who, after all, married a 6-year old). There is an evolutionary rationale for that in that younger women are more fertile and more likely to have children (also bear in mind that for most of the human history life expectancy has hovered around 30 years). Of course, however unpopular it is to point out, another rationale is aesthetic. Again, for most of the human history, teenage women were considered more attractive and sexually desirable because the harshness of everyday life with its hard work, all-present disease, poor hygiene, poor diet and frequent childbearing would age women very fast. This is no longer the case, thanks to the social, economic, scientific and medical progress of the past several centuries, but the old evolutionary habits die hard.

It seems, therefore, that masculinity has always been “fragile” according to Mahdawi’s definition. Which means it’s not really fragile; it’s normal, whether you approve i or not.

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