It Naturalizes the Pleasure Gap
When it’s made in a sexual context, the claim that “men are simple” conveys that men are easy to please, while women require lots of work. This belief makes it seem as if it is only natural for men to get more enjoyment out of sex than women.
As of now, this is what’s happening. A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that only 4.3 percent of men but a full 15 percent of women said their last sexual encounter was barely or not at all pleasurable. Another study in Archives of Sexual Behavior found that 95 percent of straight men but only 65 percent of straight women orgasmed during every or almost every recent sexual experience.
If women are more complicated, then these discrepancies seem to be justified. If women’s bodies are just more difficult to please, they cannot expect to have an orgasm every time or experience sex as uniformly pleasurable.
This belief system obscures the reasons women actually experience less pleasure in bed: that men are more likely to receive oral sex and other forms of pleasure; that too many people conflate “sex” with “intercourse” instead of participating in activities that bring women more enjoyment; that many women are dealing with body image issues and/or sexual trauma that affect their ability to stay present during sex; that women are more likely to suffer from chronic pain and illness, which can kill your sex drive; the list goes on.
We cannot fight these problems and rectify the situation if we keep pretending that it is just nature taking its course.
It Stigmatizes Men’s Sexual Issues
Many men struggle with sexual issues typically attributed to women, like trouble getting aroused or reaching climax. One study of men ages 16-21 in the Journal of Adolescent Health, for example, found that 10.5 percent experienced a lack of interest in sex, 8.3 percent reported difficulty reaching orgasm, and 7.8 percent struggled with erectile dysfunction.
Saying that men’s sexuality is simple discourages these men from getting help by leading them to believe they’re abnormal. It also makes their partners feel as if it’s their fault that their partners are struggling. They may think, “If men are so simple, why can’t I figure them out?”
There’s a double standard that says that if a woman is struggling sexually, it’s because her body was just not built to enjoy sex, but if a man is, it’s his partner’s fault. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy in men’s partners when it’s really nobody’s fault at all.
It Contributes to Rape Culture
Claims that “men are simple” are often accompanied by the saying that “men only want one thing.” Wherever they are and whatever they appear to be doing, the thinking goes, men are plotting and scheming and waiting for the opportunity to get someone (especially women) to provide them with sex.
This is a very dangerous view of sex. It makes it out to be a commodity that women owe men, and it gives off the impression that men cannot help but objectify women.
When we teach women that “men only want one thing” from them, we are teaching them that they only have one thing to offer. We are teaching them that half the world views their bodies as the most important thing about them.
And when we teach men that they only want one thing, we teach them that it is normal to behave in manipulative and coercive ways in sexual situations. We deprive them of the chance to experience their sexuality in a multi-dimensional way that involves emotion and connection.
It is only once we acknowledge men not as innate sexual predators but as complex human beings who want more than sex and can form genuine bonds that we can end rape culture.
It Creates a Hierarchy - With Men on Top
The first step toward creating a hierarchy is creating a binary. And when we say “men are simple, women are complicated,” that’s what we do. We reinforce a gender binary that in turn enforces a power hierarchy. This hierarchy not only oppresses women and non-binary people but also shortchanges men.
Rather than seeing any gender as exclusively simple or complicated, we should understand that we’re all a combination of both. We have many complex emotions, ideas and experiences, but there are a few simple desires beneath them. And in that way, we’re all the same.