In this column, I address male woundedness that results in their sexual exploitation of women. Dr. Peter Rutter, author of “Sex in the Forbidden Zone”, states: “Masculine woundedness is an elusive but absolutely crucial ingredient in the fatal conspiracy between men and women that leads to exploitative sex. The wounds of men remain hidden behind a vast cloud of masculine erotic fantasy and folklore that organizes itself around the masculine myth of women, including their sexual availability.”
Yes, far too many men who often end up exploiting women sexually, emotionally and psychologically, are coming from a place of brokenness that has its genesis in early childhood. This is certainly not an excuse for abusive behavior, and it is certainly not a reason to disregard punishment for wrongdoing. It is to help us understand how to provide help for wounded men and how to be better parents or guardians. Many men who exploit women have been, as children, abandoned, sexually exploited and psychologically and emotionally abused.
Here is another point. Fantasy plays a major role in men who exploit women.
“Every act of sexual exploitation between a man and a woman has been shaped and nourished by countless hours of masculine sexual fantasy. A man’s fantasies of women are in large part inner images of his own self that he can experience in no other way because those elements have been rejected as ‘feminine’. These qualities include receptivity, vulnerability, inner-directedness, nurturing and non-competitiveness.” Our culture does not allow men to get in touch with their inner being, their pain and their feelings. Men who sexually exploit women are usually engrossed in emotional pain camouflaged over years of sexual fantasy.
The missing dad in the life of our boys today is a major reason many of them will ultimately seek intense intimacy through sexual exploitation of women. A large percentage of our male prison inmates are from fatherless homes. The majority of them are incarcerated for futile and destructive behavior because they were trying to fill a void created by a lack of parental love. Many others who do not break the law and do not end up in prison are still slaves to their drives and passion in their search for a meaning to life. Many of them seek to massage their fragile egos by exploiting women.
Fathers who refuse to love their sons can influence them to become over-dependent on the feminine for intimacy. When fathers distance themselves in matters of intimacy, they leave their sons with no way to develop their own inner resources. The life-giving, healing elements that they might have found inside themselves are instead sought out through sexual contact with women. The void in the father-son relationship is filled with a dependency on the feminine.
We cannot leave out the role of mothers. If a male childhood relationship with his mother is an unhealthy one, it can predispose him toward exploitation of women. If a mother refuses to participate in the painful moments of her son, she will heighten his vulnerability to becoming exploitive of women. If the mother herself is deprived of love and affection from her husband or significant other, she may distance herself emotionally from her son.
“The depriving mother shares neither his happiness nor his pain. She lets him cry alone, without supplying comfort; she ignores his joyous discoveries about himself and the world around him. As he grows older, his emotional life may become deadened because of her lack of involvement in it. If a mother does not, to some degree, anticipate her child’s pain, but only involves herself in his emotional life after he has lost control of himself, she is encouraging a pattern in which he may become wild and destructive in his desperation to win a response.” – Dr. Rutter
To reduce the risk of our boys growing up and exploiting women, we must take the time to love them when they are young. This love must include sharing, touching, freedom to cry and expressing emotions, listening and plenty of conversation. The challenge we have today is that too many parents do not know how to love. They are only good at making babies but not at raising them. I encourage all parents reading this article to make sure that they genuinely love their children. If you do not know how to, or if you are wounded yourself, then seek ways to heal your heart. Read a book, attend a seminar, seek God’s help or go to counseling.
Men, if you are using women sexually, please remember that your behavior is not normal or healthy. Seek help.
• Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and board-certified clinical psychotherapist. Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org; write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas; visit www.soencouragement.org; or telephone 242-327-1980.