Today’s men: brutes and fools in the sack
Those French. One second they’re burning cities down in protest of having to work two years more, and the next they’re re-publishing – without so much as an ironic smile – an etiquette book written by Barbara Cartland in 1962 that advises women to apply lipstick before making their husbands breakfast.
But it’s not the publication of Les Bonnes Manieres: L’art du chic selon Lady Cartland (Etiquette Handbook: A Guide to Good Behaviour from the Boudoir to the Boardroom) that gave me pause for thought. I mean, those French will get all serious about the most extraordinary things (Cartland advises men not to discuss polo or the stock market at the dinner table or to allow their wives into the bathroom while they’re showering; women must constantly praise their husband’s sexual prowess. It’s a little hard to see where a 2010 re-publication of this book presented in a straight facedly helpful fashion fits in).
No, it was something Cartland says at one point, that hit home like hell, and that the women of 2010 would do very well to note. “A man who makes love and goes to sleep without telling a woman he loves her and how greatly he has enjoyed himself is a fool and a brute,” she says matter of factly.
How far we have come (down) – can you imagine consciously and explicitly classifying every man who gruntingly fell into snoring slumber after releasing their load as a brute and fool? No – even though it rankles every time. Alas, sex that is greedy, self-serving and – post ejaculation – monosyllabic or mute on the part of the man is the norm these days, at least in casual encounters. Brutes and fools – by Cartland’s unequivocal standards – are shamelessly numerous in the unmade, computer-rammed, weed-filled bedrooms of 2010.
I’m not suggesting that every encounter requires an avowal of emotional attachment that simply often isn’t and can’t be there. Women have casual, non loved-up sex too and don’t expect an “I love you” after sex. But men still need to take care to be nice, for want of a better word, to the women they sleep with. Instead, they are often brutes and fools (yes!) who show how little they ever saw the act of sex as an interaction between two people rather than as a masturbatory aide. Some men seem genuinely irked, or at least inconvenienced, by the fact that after they’ve orgasmed, there’s still a woman there. What a nuisance.
But the crowning offense among today’s rude men is a disregard for the woman’s sexual comfort. In a nutshell, a callous attitude towards safe sex that always results in the woman feeling compromised. If she insists on a condom, she’s ruining his arousal and experience. She’s spoiling the moment .Of course many, many men practice safe sex without discussion. But the fact that quite a few still don’t is an absolute shocker – I’ve just returned from a great trip to Israel where more than one friend told me that Israeli men have little regard for condoms. All the girls said it got them down but they often capitulated because the men were stubborn. Some had caught things.
Expressing an aversion to, and then trying not to use, a condom is still socially sanctioned because women allow it to happen. But it’s the most brutish thing of all, and reflects a deeply troubling failure among many men to behave decently, simply because it’s not the most instantly gratifying route. Wearing a condom shouldn’t be a matter of decency – it should be a matter of course.
And so, fresh from several tales of men who “don’t like” condoms, and indeed, having encountered a few of them myself, Barbara Cartland’s notion of male brutishness concerning inconsiderate, self-serving and impolite sex rang a bell.
I’m not advocating wearing lipstick to cook breakfast (or even cooking breakfast – necessarily), but I do think women let men get away with too much in the bedroom. Maybe if we began being more liberal with terms like “brutish” and “uncivilised”, attitudes would change. While we may not begin to receive ornate post-sex, pre-sleep oratories, at least the condom question would cease to be a question – ever. And who knows, maybe the next step would be a true connection between sex and two personalities.