Sigmund Freud’s philosophy may have fallen out of use in professional circles, but his ideas seem to be alive and well in the American conscious. I’ve seen a few articles that sort of orbit around the idea in the title of this post, but nothing yet that ties them together.
I started thinking about it after reading this Gospel Coalition article. Yes, the modern openness about homosexuality has made heterosexual men self-conscious about their relationships with other men, but I think there is a lot more going on than that. Americans, and I presume other westerners, are scrutinizing a man’s every action for sexual motivation, as if sex drive is what defines him. Have a close relationship with a non-related man? You must secretly be gay. Volunteer to play with children? You’re on pedophile watch. You’re on the computer at home alone? Better clear your browser history when you’re done! Do you and your friends go to the scantily clad women, or do they come to you?
I don’t really care about people’s opinions, but the worst part of this attitude is that it soaks into good men’s minds and alters our view of ourselves. We are nervous about being with our male friends one-on-one because of the ideas people might get. We think it might look weird if we volunteer for the nursery at church. If every other post-pubescent male seeks out porn, and all they get is a stern sermon from the pastor, then why do I bother to discipline myself?
And the results are children who grow up afraid of men, teenage boys confused about sexuality, young men who believe that sex defines them, and mature men who don’t talk about their struggles with the only other people who would understand and share those burdens.
I don’t have some sort of cure for the morals of society. Nobody does. But I do have some opinions about what individuals can do to combat these destructive mindsets. If you’re a man, look yourself in the mirror every morning and say, “My sex drive does not define who I am, and it does not motivate my every action.” Learn to talk to other men about your thoughts, good and bad, and then teach that skill to younger men. For both men and women, respect the time-honored tradition of presumption of innocence, because the odds of any given male being the perpetrator of assault are vanishingly small; and I think the suspicion we cast on men we don’t know well perpetuates the sexualizing of culture and at the least does not show the kind of grace, mercy, and humility Christ has called us to give others.