Growing up in a world that emphasizes enduring romantic love, fairytales and love marriages indeed influences us. In the West, we are socialized to believe in love that is everlasting and monogamous; we expect that our lovers should stay faithful and honest to us. In current times, expectations on love are very high, which often leads to disappointment. Where did these expectations come from? Why do we assume that relationships MUST be monogamous? Why do we assume that humans can only love ONE person? Is fidelity a realistic expectation if we consider the worldwide statistics of divorce?
My view towards love and relationships are changing. As an escort, I see countless men who are ‘committed’ — often men who are in loving relationships with girlfriends and wives. What can explain why these men are cheating on their partners? Many of these married men love their wives, but their wives no longer have sex with them. We label these men, or anyone, who cheats as selfish and weak because they cannot ‘control’ their desires. Yet isn’t it unjust when men, and also women, are stuck in a relationship that lacks intimacy? Many men and women feel ‘stuck’ in their marriages, so rather than divorce and face all negative impacts of divorce they end up choosing infidelity.
Men, just as women, also face oppression from modern gender role expectations. Previously, I used to feel that I could never trust men (because my experience as an escort saw too many ‘nice’ men who were cheating their wife/partner). I was once bitter; I thought that most men were liars and cheaters. But my thoughts have changed as I try to understand the dynamics of society. My view now is: Social expectations and social pressures have forced men to lie and ‘cheat.’ Men are not at fault. Women also lie and cheat. But the problem is society and UNREALISTIC social expectations placed upon us. Contemporary European-style monogamous marriage, alone, simply doesn’t work in the modern context. One must be mindful that marriage has many variations and interpretations cross-culturally. For this topic, I am referring to monogamous marriage (in modern times, the ‘love’ monogamous marriage).
“To hold and proclaim that a man and a woman (who may not even have chosen each other) are in duty bound to satisfy each other in every way throughout their lives is a monstrosity that necessarily gives rise to hypocrisy, lying, hostility and unhappiness” (Simone de Beauvoir, 1949: The Second Sex (1974 edn. p497-8).
Basically, Simone De Beauvoir, the pioneer French feminist, says the concept of Western monogamous marriage is invalid. Marriage, in her view, gives way to lying, cheating and hypocrisy because of the unrealistic expectations placed on individuals in a relationship (such as promising a lifetime of fidelity). I agree with her that contemporary marriage in modern context is problematic, but I do not agree that marriage in other contexts (culturally and historically) can be degraded. Marriage in other historical contexts (non-Western) was not oppressing, as it meant something vastly different than it’s usage today. Yes, marriage used to have a vital purpose for the society, but it’s meaning has become diluted and shallow with modern capitalism. Even the concept of polygamy once served an important social function. Yet today, polygamy is marked with negative connotation. Polygamy is still taboo in Western societies. When polygamy does exist, it is only men who have the ability to have multiple wives. Women, of course, are not supposed to have multiple lovers…..because society does not recognize that a woman’s desire IS just as powerful as a man. The irony of it all is that our society embraces ‘serial monogamy’ (having a relationship, breaking up, and then starting a new relationship with another), yet polygamy is still stigmatized?
My stance on marriage is undetermined. I do feel marriage in other contexts served an important purpose, yet the contexts have changed. On one hand, marriage is the only institution that has provided better security for children (yet one must also be mindful that other societies, organized in vastly different ways, had other ways of maintaining social structures, such as family — so, in essence, there is no universal ‘proper’ way of having a relationship). But for the moment, it seems, marriage is the safest institution to hold families together. It still holds symbolic meaning in non-Western cultures. But Western marriage, in particular, has lost it’s symbolic purpose –it has unrealistic expectations that contradict the context. With my experiences of seeing countless men cheating on their spouses, I really question the concept of fidelity. Even for myself, I have never been ‘faithful’ to any of my partners (mainly because of my work) ; but I have also had multiple lovers all at once. Many would probably label me as selfish, and unable to appreciate being with one person, or having a lack of self-control. Of course, our so-called ‘great’ modern society has so many degrading terms to apply to those who do not conform. But I ask: who wants us to be monogamous and why? Ideally, the concept of open relationships and marriages sound ideal, but we are far too egotistic to accept sharing our partners. We’ve internalized monogamy to the core. Even I am hypocritical: despite having multiple lovers myself, the idea of my men being with other women is unfathomable (but this is probably because I can’t let go of my ego and superiority complex).
We also need more openness to other variations of marriage that exist cross-culturally. Also, we need is more awareness and acceptance of the sexual needs from our lovers. For instance, if a wife decides to abstain from sexual intercourse with her husband, how can she expect her husband to give up his desire? That’s unfair to a husband. Similarly, I would suffer also if I was stuck with a man who couldn’t give me intense sexual pleasure. I feel deep sympathy for women who are stuck with men who don’t give them orgasm.
What would compel a woman to stop having sex with her husband? Do most men fail to please their women?
Patriarchy, capitalism and modern gender roles for men and women has conditioned society to ignore or devalue female sexual pleasure. Yet with more acknowledgment of women’s desires, the sexual needs of women become more valued. A common myth is that women have less sexual desire than men. As well, we assume that when women get older, they lose their sexual desire. I disagree. The problem is these women with ‘low-sex drives’ never got to experience intense sexual pleasure. Perhaps they internalized ‘shame’ associated with exploring their sexuality. Some women show little interest in sex, because they don’t even know what ‘good’ sex is. These women may have married early, and had only one to a few sexual partners. Personally, if I wasn’t a prostitute (with the experience of having sex with a variety of men), then it’s likely I would have NEVER experienced good sex (because men who are amazing at sex are still a minority).
Faking orgasm and pornography influence men to perform bad at sex?
Aside from modern gender role expectations of female passivity, I attribute men lacking in sexual skills with two things: women faking orgasm and pornography.
What gave men the idea that it takes MINIMAL effort to make a woman orgasm? One reason is that women often fake their pleasure, which reinforces a positive self-concept of his performance. Too many women fake their pleasure. Even escorts do it commonly, which I have witnessed when clients booked me and another girl together. The result of women faking their sexual pleasure means that MEN will assume their BAD sexual skills are GOOD (and thus these men have no incentive to improve their sexual skills!). Countless men I’ve slept with have this annoying trait: they think it’s easy to make a woman orgasm. The classic scenario: during sexual penetration, the client will say to me, “Did you come yet baby??” Or better yet, after 2 or 3 minutes of oral sex on me, he says, “Are you close baby, did you come?” I, however, refuse to fake my pleasure. If he really wants to give me pleasure, I will teach him how to do it.
The other reason why some men lack sexual skills is because of: pornography. The majority of Porn reflects the gender and sexuality discourses of modern society — where, sadly, female sexuality is reduced to passiveness. Porn is mostly false acts of sex, and the goal of porn is typically for HIS pleasure. When a woman ‘apparently’ has orgasm in porn, they hardly depict the reality. They show a man performing cunninlingus for 1 or 2 minutes, with the woman screaming for ‘pleasure’ and then apparently, she has an orgasm. It’s false. Considering most men watch porn, they are being (socialized) influenced in false ways, giving birth to false expectation. Thanks to ideas propagated by porn, many men will have the expectation that women can orgasm easily and are pleasured by minimal effort. Thankfully, some men reject societal norms of ignoring/devaluing female sexuality. There are great men who’ve discovered that the beauty of pleasure is when both participants are fully enjoying. Yet I cannot say men, alone, are at fault. After all, it takes two to tango: so, if many women don’t discover their own sexual pleasure, how can men know?
Certainly many women may have no sexual desire because their partners or husbands never addressed their sexual needs. Yet we cannot blame the man, because perhaps his wife gave him false impressions that his performance was good. In cases of marriage in conservative societies, divorce is taboo because of social pressures and social expectations. So what happens as a result? Couples suffer passively, and they end up cheating. For many societies, love was not connected to marriage, yet there was also not an unrealistic expectation of monogamy. In a some contexts, some women fear to cheat, so they end up having lesbian relations with other women. A great Indian film titled Fire depicts this very well, where two married women resort to lesbianism because their needs are ignored by their husbands.
In theory, it sounds great that I can be accepting of my partners needs. For instance if I am unable to have sex, I should not prohibit my partner from getting it elsewhere. Just as I would hope, ideally, that my lover would let another man give me pleasure if he was unable to do so. In theory, this sounds great. YET in reality, JEALOUSLY, angst, emotions get involved because we are so conditioned to believe in ENDURING love. We are so selfish to even fathom that our lover might have needs that we cannot meet.
With my ex, I had severe trust issues. He didn’t trust me, as I was his young beautiful lover. And I didn’t trust him because he was, well, a MAN. That made our relationship disastrous. Ideally I want to be more accepting if my partner potentially desires another. But I admit, the idea is hard to digest. It’s my ego that gives rise to these jealous feelings….this sense of entitlement, that I must be the best and the ONLY woman for my man.