Gritty. Bold. Brash. Yeah, that’s a man.
Vulnerable, emotional, transparent? You won’t find those words in male vocabularies. They’re kryptonite and go against our male ideals. But male ideals are often unhealthy stereotypes, falling far from reality and creating crippling insecurities.
No doubt women struggle with insecurities, with airbrushed images of beauty magazines everywhere you look, but that’s not an admission acceptable for the alpha male culture.
Sweeping things under the covers only allows what’s toxic to grow. Insecurities, like monsters under the bed, weaken and disappear when confronted.
Here are five ignored insecurities that cripple men:
1. The Boogie Nights Performance
The mega doses of Viagra and selective editing of adult films creates a complex when the lights go out. When it comes to sexual endurance, statewide research tracking 10,000 couples revealed in New Mexico, men last seven minutes before spilling the beans. In Alaska, the ice is spilled after 81 seconds. It’s a sigh of relief for many.
In addition, 50 members of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research were asked to dig into their decades of experience and chart intercourse times:
- "too short," from 1-2 minutes - "adequate," from 3-7 minutes - "desirable," from 7-13 minutes
Sex researcher, Dr. Harry Fisch, says women need five to seven minutes to reach orgasm. So while many men may drop their insecurities, fitting comfortably into “adequate,” it seems we could all use help getting into the “desirable” range. Perhaps those pelvic exercises aren’t such a bad idea.
2. The Brad Pitt Body
More men are coming out of the closet when it comes body image issues. Sixty-three percent “always feel like they could lose weight,” 53 percent dislike having their picture taken and 41 percent worry about others judging their appearance.
Male body image dissatisfaction is now almost on par with women. As Barbie dolls present unrealistic and unattainable body proportions for girls from a young age, the same is happening with boys.
If the G.I. Joe action figure was life size, he’d have a 55” chest, 29’’ waist and 27’’ biceps. In 1964, he had a 44” chest, 32” waist and 12” biceps.
No doubt there’s a disconnect between culture’s portrayal and the average male body. Using CDC anthropometric data, Dr. James Hamblin grafted an avatar of the average US male: 5'9" with a 39-inch waist. His body mass index (BMI) is 29.
Of course, nobody should strive for average, especially when average is just shy of the medical definition of obese. But the figures -- and the figure -- should place many guys' insecurities into the realm of ridiculous, and allow some room to relax.
3. The Dusty Black Book
This is the history lesson on each other’s sexual past. Digging out the dusty black book makes the skin crawl on many, but it's a conversation that inevitably surfaces.
The insecurity manifests in many ways: Men feel inadequate with limited sexual experience, or despised for having too much. Then there’s the jealousy of your partner’s extensive romances.
Whether it’s in the context of pre-marital counseling, during marriage or prior to an exclusive relationship, there’s a ton of debate over what to discuss. Some couples prefer a "don’t ask, don’t tell" rule when it comes to previous partners; of course, anything that may harm your current partner, such as STIs, must be disclosed.
Ultimately, any decision, and any conversation should be done in light of making your current relationship the best it can be. Any insecurities can create a road-block for the healthy conversations and necessary decisions.
4. The Wolf on Wall Street
Traditional patriarchy is still well ingrained in our culture. Men are meant to be the breadwinners; when our partners succeed, it’s a subtle low blow to our financial prowess.
Dr. Kate Ratliff’s research tracked subconscious self-esteem responses to achievements and failures among couples, and found that men automatically interpret a partner’s success as their own failure. Men also felt worse after being asked to recall their partners' achievements.
It comes down to the inability to compartmentalize our competitive nature. Our hunter-gatherer survival instincts need to see partners on the same tribe, rather than competition.
5. The Woody Allen
Whether it’s the size, shape or appearance, a man’s penis is the epicenter of insecurity. Even considering that the male penis was once covered in spines doesn’t help the major kryptonite for all men.
As you whip out the tape measure, here’s the average American man’s penis size from the Journal of Sexual Medicine -- drum roll: 5.6 inches. That’s 95 percent of all penises. The average adult vagina is 4 inches deep, which is why many women complain about cervical bruising from oversized penises.
It seems the wounds of penile insecurity are self-inflicted. When women were surveyed on what they desire in a partner, very few mention penis size. Instead, they mention attractiveness, kindness, caring, listening, sense of humor and shared interests and values. And in bed, women will always choose more skill over more inches.
Making a connection between a bigger penis and being a better lover is akin to a woman judging her abilities to please a man by the size of her breasts. It’s about mastering what you have, and there are ideal positions for every penis size.
It could be worse; if we were like our fellow primates, you could be a 400-pound gorilla and possess the average erect penis of 1.5 inches. And hey, if Mr. Chow is comfortable enough to let it "hang" loose in "The Hangover," that should be enough to free many from some insecurity.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It