Men, Sex, and Relationships: Writings from Achilles Heel

Men, Sex, and Relationships: Writings from Achilles Heel

Men, Sex, and Relationships: Writings from Achilles Heel

Men, Sex, and Relationships: Writings from Achilles Heel


Men, Sex and Relationships follows on the success of The Achilles Heel Reader also edited by Victor Seidler in being a judicious mix between the academic and the personal. Drawn from contributions to the magazine Achilles Heel it provides the reader with helpful and illuminating material on men's relationships with others.


The Public and the Private

Men have grown up to identify with the public world of work. We have learned to be independent and self-sufficient. We have learned to go it alone and to do without the help of others. We have learned to identify with our work, even when it is not a matter of finding personal fulfilment but simply earning a wage. Class, racial and ethnic differences are obviously significant in men’s relationships to work, but male identity is in general an identity which is wrought within the public realm.

Often there is little that prepares us for relationships, for in learning to be self-sufficient we learn to do without others. Often our very sense of male identity is sustained through our capacity for not needing the help of others. We learn to take pride in our selfsufficiency and we experience it as a sign of weakness to need the help of others. If we call upon friends, it is often to help us with a particular task. As men we often have little experience of our emotional needs or a language within which to express them. Growing up within a competitive male culture means that to have needs is a sign of weakness and a compromise of our male identity.

As boys, growing up into different class, racial and ethnic masculinities, we learn constantly to diminish what has happened to us, and even when we are hurt we tend to say, ‘it was nothing’. We learn in diverse ways to minimize hurt and pain and to take pride in this as a sign of our strength. It is as if something really terrible has to happen, for instance, like crushing a leg, before we can feel entitled to reach out towards others without somehow compromising ourselves. Often as children we have learnt not to expect much from others. We have embodied a fear that others will take advantage or somehow ridicule us for reaching out: ‘What’s wrong with you then?

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