Men Have Frontal Lobes Too

I’m new to therapy, so I don’t know if it’s kosher to share quotes from my therapist, but I’m going to anyway. We were talking about why it is I am so easily frustrated/ angered by perceived inequalities. The topic of the moment was “rape culture,” and my frustration that most of the time the onus is on the woman to avoid being raped (via “modest” clothing, although that doesn’t actually work), rather than on men (also members of our “civilized society”) to avoid acting like Neanderthals. I’ve been frustrated by this a lot, and not just with rape.

As a teenager I remember being told that the responsibility to keep things chaste in a relationship usually falls on the girl because once boys get going “it is hard for them to stop” (that is something I was told at 15 years old). Even if you weren’t raised in a religious abstinence-only environment like I was, you know this line of thinking. Women are the responsible ones who are disinterested in sex, and men are horn dogs who can’t control themselves. As a side note, the U.S. ranks 98th in the world for female representation in government. So the same group of people (men) our culture says can’t control their sex organs are the same people disproportionally leading the country.

People talk about this in terms of it being unfair to women, but I’ve always thought it is also a pretty unfair stereotype for men. Men are not wild animals, they are raised and live in the same society as us responsible girls. The disconnect here is not with the nature of men, but rather how we nurture them. When my therapist heard my qualms she chuckled a little and said, “Yes, because men also have frontal lobes.” A simple fact. The frontal lobe is the place in our brain where the functions exist that separate humans from the rest of the animal kingdom.

Obviously there are outliers – people who don’t have full command of their frontal lobe, people who will commit crimes anyway. I’m inclined to believe that has no gender barrier. So why do we tell boys and men (explicitly or otherwise) that it is not their responsibility to control their own sexuality? That makes zero sense, and it plays right into the trope we’ve really run with recently that says men are just overgrown children. I am not a fan of that narrative – all of the movies and TV shows that have a buffoon of a husband against a rational wife consistently annoy me.

On a related note, if a man is intelligent enough to attend college he is also intelligent enough to understand what constitutes consensual sex. If that’s not the case university admissions offices need to do some serious overhaul.  There is no excuse for the high prevalence of rape on college campuses. Unless of course there are other reasons universities are protecting the status quo, like influential parents.

I have smart men in my life. They have FULL control of their mental faculties, so I know it is possible. This is not a conversation about the “nature” of men. We all fight against our nature every day. But guess what, WOMEN LIKE SEX TOO. And sometimes we don’t want to have to be the ones in control of the sex all of the time.

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