Introduction to “Male Sexualities” by Ken Plummer

I want to fuck. I need to fuck. I’ve always needed and wanted to fuck. From my teenage years I’ve always longed after fucking.

-A male friend speaking to social psychologist Wendy Hollway (1996)

Men have an overwhelming desire to relieve themselves upon a woman’s body.

-Roger Scruton (1986)

I just like screwing. I can remember going back when I was six, seven, eight, nine, ten, we had a pub in [country town]. Saturday, Sunday morning, I’d lay in bed and flip myself ten or twelve times, get the thrill of not being able to ejaculate. I’ve always been highly sexed.

-Barney, a gay man, speaking to Gary Dowsett (1996)

For a man, sex instinctively is a testosterone drive towards the ultimate release of climax. When he becomes aroused, he automatically seeks release. His fulfillment in sex is mainly associated with the release of tension leading to and including the orgasm.

-John Gray (1998, May 8)

I have started this chapter with these quite provocative quotes because they capture the very common and very simple story that is most frequently told of male sexuality. It is powerful, natural, driven; it is uncontrollable; it is penis centered; it seeks to achieve orgasm whenever it can. The truth of this is often not very nice. After all, we have seen depicted and been told many times, it is overwhelming men who rape, who buy pornography, who develop sexual fetishes, who engage in sexual violence of all kinds, and who become the serial killers. It is men who are driven to seek sex in all its diversities. They are the assertors, the insertors, and the predators. Of course, some women–perhaps a growing number–do these things. But overall, sex is seen to have a much more driven quality for men. They are pressured to have sex as some intense inner need and, in turn, they may well pressure others into it.[Note 1; see bottom]

Image result for prostitution

Thus, men are much more likely than women to become sexual consumersThey will pay for sex in all its varieties–prostitution, pornography, striptease, sex tourism, massage, lap dancing, telephone sex, fetish sales. They are much more likely to feel that they can assert themselves to take sex when they want it, not just in obvious rape situations, but more routinely, with their wives (wife rape), girlfriends (date rape),  children (son or daughter rape), and other men (homosexual rape). They are much more likely than women to feel they have a specific turn-on–a little out of the ordinary–which must be met. Where are all the women who “must” steal male underwear, who must expose their genitals to men passing by in the street, who must make obscene phone calls to unknown men? “Perversion,” says Robert Stoller (a leading psychiatrist of sexual diversity), “is far more common in men than in women; women practice almost none of the official diagnoses” (Stoller, 1976, p. 34). Men are much more likely than women to be driven to break the sex laws and become sex offenders; male sex offenders overwhelmingly outnumber female sex offenders in all areas except one–prostitution–and although women may commit crimes of passion, they are not the same as the so-called lust murders of men (Caputi, 1988). Most recently, with the creation of the new so-called diseases of “sexual addition” and “sexual compulsion,” it is again overwhelmingly men who identify with this category and seek help through compulsive anonymous groups. Patrick Carnes, the guru of sexual addiction theory, has described the seemingly extraordinary lengths to which some men will go to get their sex (Carnes, 1984). Many become “sex addicts.” Again, only a minority of men may be involved in all of these, but it seems that many, many fewer women are.”


Plummer, Ken. 2005. Pp. 178-195 in Handbook of Studies on Men & Masculinities, edited by M. S. Kimmel, J. Hearn, and R. W. Connell. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. [From the “intro” section, pp. 178-179. References reproduced below in chronological order as they appeared above. Note from the “Notes” section. Italics here and above in original.]

Hollway, W. (1996). Gender difference and the production of subjectivity. In S. Jackson & S. Scott (Eds.), Feminism and sexuality: A reader (pp. 84-100). Edinburgh, Scotland: University of Edinburgh Press.

Scruton, R. (1986). Sexual desire. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Dowsett, G. W. (1996). Practicing desire: Homosexual sex in the era of AIDS. Stanford, CA: University of Stanford Press.

Gray, J. (1998). Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. The book of days: 365 inspirations to enrich your relationships. New York: Harper Collins.

Stoller, R. (1976). Perversion: The erotic form of hatred. New York: Pantheon.

Caputi, J. (1988). The age of sex crime. London: Women’s Press.

Carnes, P. (1984). The sexual addiction. Minneapolis, MN: Compcare.

[Note] 1. There are a number of studies on male sexuality, but many of them, such as Larry Morris’s (1997) The Male Heterosexual, have a tendency to depict the sexuality of men as unproblematic and to see it passing through various key stages: from early acts of penetrative sex through marriage, fatherhood, and divorce. My article treats the whole idea as deeply problematic.

[Plummer leaves the following note on the references section:] A useful bibliography on male sexuality, “The Men’s Bibliography: A Comprehensive Bibliography of Writing on Men, Masculinities, Gender, and Sexualities,” compiled and recently updated by Michael Flood, is available on the Internet at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: