The Difference between Macho Sex and True Intimacy

Article excerpt

Despite raw attitudes espoused in pop culture, many say what they really want is an intimate love relationship

Turn on just about any radio station and you will hear them: explicit songs about sex and how today's men and women supposedly want it: Quick and dirty. Fast and hot. No string attached.

And that message isn't limited to so-called "gangsta' rap." During a recent week, two new Black R&B artists - one male (Montell Jordan), one female (Adina Howard) - had the No. 1 and No. 2 sings respectively on Billboard's hot singles chart with sexually graphic tunes.

A sampling of the lyrics of Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It," in fact, effectively captures the essence of what experts are calling "macho sex" - the notion, often contained in popular culture, that when it comes to sex in the '90s, romance and intimacy are a thing of the past. "We don't have to be lovers," the song goes, "we don't have to be friends....I wanna see you naked in the raw...."

Despite the way sex is portrayed in popular culture, however, there appears to be a growing chorus of voices rising from the single Black community from both men and women who are saying just the opposite - that is, before they want to see or be seen by anyone "naked in the raw," they not only prefer to, but insist on being both friends and monogamous lovers.

What is behind this growing trend? Why are many Black singles turning away from macho, hit-and-run sex and attempting to become involved in a relationship in which they can discover true intimacy? According to experts, the answer is a rightful concern for and fear of the often bitter physical and emotional consequences of "macho sex" (i.e., sex that is easy, quick and involves many partners).

"Because he seemed so invincible, the disclosures by Magic Johnson substantially heightened the fear of contracting AIDS among Black singles," says Dr. Larry Davis, associate professor of psychology and social work at Washington University and author of Black and Single: Meeting And Choosing A Partner Who's Right For You. "In fact, Magic Johnson testing HIV-positive struck fear in the hearts of most Black singles."

Consequently, Davis says in his book, when it comes to sex and dating, many Black singles are applying a new, iron-clad rule. "Find someone and limit your sexual activity to him or her: This is probably the most commonly attempted method that singles employ in their efforts to protect themselves."

But it isn't only the fear of contracting AIDS or any other sexually transmitted disease that is changing the casual attitudes and behaviors of many Black singles. On the contrary, many are discovering for themselves the essential truth of what relationship experts have been telling couples for years, a truth eloquently summarized by Dr. Davis: "Sex is often only a byproduct of the satisfaction of some other need, e.g., a desire for intimacy." Dr. Judith Wallerstein, a clinical psychologist whose new book, The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts, explores the relationships of 50 contented couples, agrees. "People say relationships are not that important ['I'm independent, I have a job']. They also try not to admit how lonely they are. But very close to the surface is a great wish for an intimate relationship, to love somebody and be loved."

Macho sex can never fulfill that need, say experts, for one simple reason: its primary - usually only - goal is self-satisfaction. "When sex is easy, quick and involves many partners, its meaning is surely to diminish, developing a 'get it while it's hot' mentality," Haki Madhubuti, director of the Institute of Positive Education in Chicago, explains in his book, Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous. "And the proponents of this approach cannot possibly be serious about anything or anything one other than themselves."

Dr. Julia Hare, a San Francisco-based expert on male/female relationships, elaborates. "Macho sex is nothing more than the old wham-bam-thank-you-ma'm mentality that women are constantly telling me they find so demeaning and so unfulfilling," she says. …