How Disney Ruined Sex For Everyone

How Disney Ruined Sex For Everyone

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So, stop me if you’ve heard this one before. There’s this guy. He’s like a prince, or an orphan, or kind of a loser — like an orphan-prince-loser-type guy.

And then there’s this girl. And she’s hot.

And then usually there’s a bad guy too. And he’s bad.

So, logically, our orphan-prince-loser-type guy has to save the hot girl, and usually does it by beating up the bad guy. He solves the super secret conspiracy to overthrow the government, or destroys the evil space ship, or has a sword fight to the death where his ear gets hacked off and he barely lives. Shit blows up. People die. The bad guy ultimately loses.

The crowd goes wild. And our former orphan-prince-loser guy is now a capital-H Hero. And what do heroes get as their reward for saving the universe? Duh. The hot girl.

What I just described to you is loosely the plot of practically every story you’ve ever been told — from Star Wars to Iron Man to Good Will Hunting to Super Mario Bros.

And, of course, every Disney movie ever made.

Sometimes there will be a wrinkle in the story too, making it “tragic.” Like the hero will even die for the hot girl (Terminator, Titanic) or the hot girl dies and the hero decides to go on a murderous rampage to for love and righteousness (Braveheart, Gladiator), or the girl turns out to be batshit insane and the hero realizes he threw away his entire life for nothing (Gone with the Wind, Vertigo). And in rare instances, the hero cannot be with the hot girl for legitimate capital-H Heroic reasons and must live a life of solemn “what if?” misery (Casablanca, Shawshank Redemption, etc.)

Yes, this practically is every movie you’ve ever watched, every comic book you’ve ever read, every video game you’ve ever beaten, every story book that your parents read to your drooling face.

And it’s fucking up your sex life.

Yes, Disney is wholly responsible for your lack of sexual confidence. And here’s why:

These stories send messages to us as we’re growing up. Some of the messages are nice, like “Trees are good!” and “Greed is bad!” Other messages are bad. They’re messages that are hammered into our drooling faces our whole lives and they give us really screwed up expectations. One of those bad messages is: You must earn the vagina.

If you want to be with a beautiful girl, you have to do something capital-H heroic, you have to stand out, be someone unique and amazing and awe-inspiring. Otherwise pretty girls will never like you. You have to save the fucking world. Then you are rewarded with vagina. That’s all you are and all you’re worth, a proud vagina-recipient. So start blowing shit up.

Obviously, the vast majority of us haven’t saved the world or blown anything up recently. In fact, the reality is that even if all of us are unique and special, none of us actually feel particularly unique or special at any given moment. None of us feel like we’ve done anything capital-H Heroic. We all feel like, well, just us. And apparently that’s not good enough.

It’s the storybook narrative. And in the 21st century, it really screws up our dating lives:

  1. Men spend their entire lives believing they’re not good enough to be with a woman. Men are taught to feel an immense pressure to impress women, to perform for them, to show off their money or their cars or how many digits of Pi they can memorize, so chicks might like them. This is needy and unattractive behavior and reinforces low self esteem as well as sexual anxiety. There’s a reason most guys need to be hammered to even tell a girl they like her. They all feel like they’re not good enough to like her.
     
  2. Women spend their entire lives waiting for a man to do something amazing to impress her. Or, in other words, she spends her entire life waiting for her prince charming, her knight in shining armor to come “sweep her off her feet.” Women are conditioned to believe that they’re a prize that men are supposed to win through some great achievement. And when no man is saving the world or cutting off people’s heads off with a badass broad sword in the name of her love, then she inevitably ends up disappointed. It sends the message that she’s not good enough. No man is killing himself for her vagina. Therefore her vagina must be faulty in some way.

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The storybook narrative instills sexual insecurity and promotes lofty standards, which, when unmet, causes both men and women to become ornery and unaccommodating to the realities of attraction and the courtship process.

When men feel like they can never be good enough to win the vagina, they decide to come up with ways to take it. Sometimes they do it through manipulation. Sometimes they do it through over-compensation. In extreme cases, they may do it by force.

When women feel like they can never be good enough to have their vagina won from them, they try to trick men into earning it. They play hard-to-get, create a bunch of unnecessary drama, or always keep the man guessing as to their intentions.

Sex as Transaction, Sex as Performance

But I’ll be real for a second, Disney isn’t actually responsible for this stuff. The storybook narrative has been going on for most of western civilization. It’s littered throughout Shakespeare and medieval texts. Even the Trojan War in The Iliad is started because of a beef over a hottie named Helen.

Hey, girl. You want me to build a giant wooden horse and ransack an entire ancient city for you?

Hey, girl. You want me to build a giant wooden horse and ransack the ancient city of Troy for you?

The reason this narrative has existed so long is because marriage was the economic and political building block for most of the existence of civilization. In feudal societies, the way you guaranteed security to your estate was through marrying women of wealthy (and often competing) families. If you were a man of one of the underclasses, the only way to “marry up” into wealth or greater power was through accomplishing some amazing feat, usually in war. Hence, the epic tale of valiant knights saving the princess that is so often repeated.

But we live in the 21st century. Our politics and economics are no longer arranged through marriages. No one marries for political power. Women have jobs and earn their own money. We live in free-market democracies. 99.9% of us will never see a battlefield in our lives.

Years ago, sex writer Clarisse Thorn introduced me to the idea of sex as performance versus sex as transaction. The idea was originally put forth by Thomas MacAulay Millar in Yes Means Yes (a book that, I won’t lie, made me cringe a little the first time I read it). The idea is also backed up and expanded upon in books such as Sex at Dawn and Marriage: A History.

The idea goes something like this:

Anthropological evidence suggests that in pre-history, hunter/gatherer societies were, umm, rather “loose” with their sexual morals. The idea of marriage or sexual possession was (and still is) largely anathema to most of these groups. But with the rise of agriculture, humans, for the first time in our species’ existence, had surpluses of resources. And not only did we have surpluses of resources, but men, due to their size and strength, gained a large competitive advantage at acquiring them over women. Men began to compete against one another economically, hoarding surplus resources and then using those resources to dominate the others around them. Economic hierarchies were born. City/states followed. Monarchs and lords and the feudal system followed from that, as did organized warfare and the first empires.

(Famous scientist and author Jared Diamond went as far as to call agriculture “The biggest mistake in human history.” I’m not sure I would go that far.)

The problem with this new social structure was that men, for the first time ever, had two major concerns: 1) they needed to guarantee paternity of their own children and 2) they needed to manage their political competition through marriages, alliances and familial bonds.

Thus female chastity began to matter. Fidelity began to matter. Fertility began to matter. Sex became an economic and political transaction, and women — who were now useless for war and physical labor — became pro-creating assets for men. Women provided sex and procreation. In return, their families were given resources, dowries, political alliances, land, etc.

Men now had to win the vagina.

And so they did, for about 7,000 years plus or minus.

But as I mentioned earlier, times have changed. We don’t arrange our society through marriages anymore. We can will our resources to anyone of our choosing when we die. We have legal systems in place to guarantee our assets. Women have jobs and their own incomes. STD’s are no longer lethal. Women (and soon men) have birth control and can dictate their own procreation. We live in the most non-violent period of human history. People are living to almost 90.

Treating sex as a transaction no longer makes sense. In fact, now that the economic deck has been shuffled and largely equalized, treating sex as a transaction harms the self-esteem and emotional health of both men and women.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

In terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we no longer need to use sex to fulfill our physiological and security needs. Now we can move on to using it to meet our needs for intimacy and esteem.

What Millar proposes — somewhat radically — is that we should treat sex as a performance, as an activity that is done for the sake of doing it, for the sake of self-expression and pleasure and intimacy.

When sex is treated as a transaction, it’s often in both men and women’s interests to hide or misdirect their intentions, creating the perception of higher value so they can earn as much as possible from the interaction. As I’ve detailed before, this leads to all sorts of unpleasant processes that makes dating a pain in the ass and interferes with intimacy and self esteem.

When sex is treated as performance, then it’s in the best interest of both men and women to approach it with clear intentions, without shame, and without judgment — strategies which are proven to attract more members of the opposite sex, to create more satisfying sexual relationships, and to remove any ambiguity as to each person’s intentions.

Is it possible to ever 100% reach a model of sex as performance? Probably not. Despite contraception and medicine, women will always bear more risk for sexual behavior than men. Men and women will always have biologically different sex drives. It’s an ideal. And as an ideal it should be strived toward even if it’s never met. For all of our sakes. And so maybe the next generation won’t have to be brainwashed by the same Disney movies we were.

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177 Comments

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  • Reply

    Brent

    1 month ago

    Interesting article Mark. Have you read The Mating Mind by Geoffrey Miller? It’s about the evolution of the human mind. After reading it, think the reason men show off for women and women screen the men more than vice versa is because that’s how we’re wired. That’s how we’ve evolved over the years, although the trend seems to be that we are moving more towards equality in courtship rituals.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      1 month ago

      HUGELY disagree with this. I’ve researched this subject a lot, and there’s TONS of research that we’re not necessarily “wired” to pursue sex in fixed ways.

      • Reply

        Grant McKenzie

        28 weeks ago

        We’re “wired” by sitting in front of TV watching garbage for our most formidable years. Social heredity has a much more profound effect on us then our genetic dispositions.

        • Reply

          ace

          28 weeks ago

          Just cut the red “wire” and you’ll be fine

      • Reply

        John Colon

        28 weeks ago

        show us…

  • Reply

    Abe

    1 month ago

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s new film DON JON gets into these themes in a big way… Good read!

  • Reply

    PJ

    28 weeks ago

    There is one hard reality that underlies the sexual “transaction”: it’s the woman who has to carry the baby for nine months. A woman wants to know if she is going to get something in return from the man that is in some way equivalent to the effort that she is biologically required to make. And she wants to know that, regardless of whether she is consciously aware of the biological equation of effort and return on investment.

    It’s not just human males that have to “win the vagina”. Males of many other species have to win their vaginas as well, although the rules for winning vary from species to species.

    Maybe for humans the rules are largely cultural. But any culture which doesn’t expect women to have high expectations of their men is a culture that will suffer because too many women in that culture will choose lousy husbands (or lousy one-night stands).

    Even within a culturally defined framework of female mate choice, I’m guessing that there is a hard-wired tendency in the female brain to latch onto some criterion of “is he good enough?”, whether that criterion is supplied externally from the culture, or thought up internally. If the culture doesn’t supply criteria, then women will start making up their own criteria, and women will become aware of the criteria that other women apply, and the most popular of those new criteria will become the new culturally defined criteria.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      28 weeks ago

      I think PEOPLE are hardwired with a “Is he/she good enough?” Sexual attraction is largely dictated by the perception of status, which is true for both genders. Ironically, status is best displayed by feeling that you have nothing to prove to someone.

      I don’t think you’re necessarily wrong, but like many men, the observations you’re making about female sexuality are very applicable to men as well.

  • Reply

    ribbonrebel31

    28 weeks ago

    Interesting article, but just about ‘the Disney Factor’, almost all the ‘typical’ Disney stories are adaptions of centuries old fairytales, they’re not exactly propagating ‘Princess types’ rather than emulating and bringing stories that may very well have died off in the past to a more modern audience. The have a whole repertoire of Princesses because a lot of the fairytales generally do cover Princesses, and even then I’d say they’re very reflective of the way attitudes and thoughts towards women change. Cinderella and Snow White for example happened towards the beginning of the 20th century, Rapunzel and Tiana, both princesses that end up saving their ‘Princes’ happened more recently. This is a bit of a long comment, but I’m wondering if it’s not Disney that’s affecting what women think about their ‘Prince Charmings’ and what not, but rather the other way around?

  • Reply

    Drew

    28 weeks ago

    Just a note, having read the first parts: THE “HOT GIRL” DIDN’T DIE IN GLADIATOR!!!!!!!

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      28 weeks ago

      Maximus’ wife was raped and murdered. It inspired the entire movie.

      • Reply

        Schuyler Hunt

        27 weeks ago

        I think he’s implying that the hot girl was Caesar’s sister.

  • Reply

    Erdumas

    28 weeks ago

    The problem with your article is the fundamental assumption that everyone takes the same message from the media we ingest. The story that you read, or watch, or otherwise consume, is not the same story that I consume. It is colored by a whole bunch of different influences, including what other stories have been consumed before. When you watch a Disney movie, the story that you consume is very different from the story that a child will consume. While I don’t deny that “save the world, get the girl” is a common theme in many stories, it is a stretch to say that this is the lesson everyone learns from these stories.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      28 weeks ago

      It’s simply a fun example used to make a broader point.

      • Reply

        Edwin van der Sar

        27 weeks ago

        Then why is it in the title if this is not your main argument and merely a fun example?

  • Reply

    Ricardo Donoso

    28 weeks ago

    A lot of BS. If people based their lives on disney movies everyone would be just waiting for that miracle turn over that leads to the happy endings, not living their miserable lives. You just want the classic “find someone else to blame for my failures”. Grow up anda ccept that your problems are yours alone, not problems that the TV gave you. Sorry for being too honest.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      28 weeks ago

      I think you missed the part of the article that says “I’m not actually blaming Disney, but culture does affect us.” It’s merely a fun example.

  • Reply

    Lindsey

    28 weeks ago

    I’m still not convinced that there’s a significant difference between the male sex drive and the female sex drive, beyond cultural expectation. I think that since the perspective of research done in the area of libido has most often been conducted by male scientists (as even now the ratio of male to female scientists is still significantly more heavily weighted with men), the research has largely been conducted with unconscious male bias.

    There are a lot of cultural expectations specific to men, and they start at birth. Blue is for BOYS. Trains, cars, rocket ships, dinosaurs, explorers, adventurers, conquerors… yes, as your article states, the Winners of the Vagina. Pressure to WANT to win the vagina. After all, isn’t that the pinnacle of male achievement under this standard? So yeah, a lot of guys really really want to be Casanova. Or at least, they think they’re supposed to want to be Casanova. To prove something. Oh yeah, to prove he’s not only winning the vagina, but that he’s winning more vaginas than the next guy.

    So in a survey or study where men and women answer candid questions about their libido, the men are going to feel the leviathan weight of all these decades of social pressure to have a “strong, manly” libido, whereas the women are under an entirely different set of cultural standards of womanhood (which, although they subject us to absurdly unrealistic standards of attractiveness and sexiness, oddly tend to undervalue female libido).

    So, given that cultural bias, it stands to reason that men will be more likely to exaggerate their stated libido than women, and since male scientists are subject to the same cultural bias (and many of them will have been frustrated trying to engage women sexually on at least one occasion), it’s what they’ll be expecting to see.

    If we were able to approach libido from only a physiological perspective, in a hypothetical society where women and men have not been indoctrinated with our same cultural biases and instead were accustomed to a couple of thousand years of genuine social equality, men’s libidos might indeed be slightly higher (considering mitigating female factors like the 4 or 5 post-partum weeks, where libido is often zero and sex is not advisable anyway) But I don’t believe the difference in genuine male and female libido is as significant as everyone in this real society believes.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      28 weeks ago

      Lindsey: Culture certainly does play a large part, but actually some of the most prominent sex researchers today are female (and feminists) and testosterone does cause predictable differences in sexual behavior and arousal. You also see these differences in all dimorphic primates, in homosexual cultures, and cross-culturally across the planet (even in non-patriarchal cultures).

      The variation between individuals is greater than the variation between genders, but there is still variation between genders. As I say in my most recent article, though, none of this matters really. If men on average want to have sex 5 times a week and women on average want to have sex 3 times a week, that doesn’t tell us what’s right for certain individual relationships or what is ethical or not ethical. It simply informs us to expect certain patterns in across a population of heterosexual encounters.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      28 weeks ago

      I’d also like to note to be careful in brushing aside male sex researchers simply for their gender. In the researcher I’ve done, I’ve yet to come across sex research that wasn’t well-versed in feminist theory. Everyone (worth their salt) in academia is well aware of these biases these days. Brushing aside a man’s research simply because he’s a man can, dare I say, be interpreted as sexist.

      • Reply

        Jake

        25 weeks ago

        Great article, and great discussion. I wish to comment on the last part of your comment. I do not believe she was “brushing aside a man’s research simply because he’s a man”, I think she is acknowledging the power of interpretation which is heavily influenced by the way we experience life, which in many respects is very different for men and women. That does not de-legitimize male researchers (there are plenty of male researchers who do a great job of being objective), but as someone who is involved in research myself, it is important to think about that possibility. She calls it the UNCONSCIOUS male bias (just as there is unconscious female bias) because these days it is not always a deliberate action, but that does not mean it still does not happen. I would be careful to brush off this possibility as well. While women have and continue to make great strides in science, it is still a heavily male dominated field, and this environment still has an impact on research, especially in cases where women have to gain approval from male superiors to publish their research (I know MANY women in my research program who struggle with this).

        Although I am a male, I will not pretend that gender bias is gone in science. And while this bias exists on both sides, one of the evils of sexism is the imbalance of power, and the privilege to exercise that power to influence. As it stands today, the power is STILL in hands men in may scientific arenas. I can imagine you are frustrated by such comments as a male researcher, but these comments are not for no reason. Many women have reason to look more closely as male researchers. I am not justifying deliberately dismissing a respectable article, rather I warn against dismissing the many years of blatant sexism that have lead to this suspicion. As a male, I fully acknowledge the severe imbalance of research and I fully expect and understand the resistance some women may have. That is the first step to solving the problem and the first step to having an exchange of knowledge.

        Peace

    • Reply

      eve

      25 weeks ago

      I don’t think it matters if gender roles are a “socially constructed” or not because face it many human behaviors are socially constructed for example language is socially constructed but does that mean we should stop using it? The question is not whether or not these human behaviors are constructed or not because for one we can never really know what is dictated by nature or by nurture and also it’s why that really matters. Let’s say that gender is completely socially constructed by humans, why did we assign the roles that we did to men and women? Obviously assigning these roles was beneficial in some way otherwise it would have been somewhat detrimental to continue using them. Women are expected to be more “picky” then men, they are expected to have lower sex drives, and to be more concerned with their partners investment, Men are expected to earn women, and provide for them and their children, whether these expectations are constructed or not makes no difference because ultimately women who exhibited these behaviors were more likely to produce healthy offspring which survived. And so humans became inclined to use this “social construct” much in the same way we use language. Are we born knowing how to speak? no- but the use of language has benefited humans in a huge way so we continue to use it and so long as gender roles benefit us we will continue using those as well.

  • Reply

    Jru Harris

    27 weeks ago

    This article was written very declaratively for something that cannot be verified easily. It could have been much easier to write asking questions and attempting to answer them. That being said, I’m pleased with the firm stances you took because it evoked feedback and discussion from readers. We’ll done! A breathe of fresh air indeed.

  • Reply

    Kenny

    27 weeks ago

    Very good read. This is something I’ve been trying to articulate for a while, and you did it, I think, much better than I could have. I also looked around and am enjoying your articles. Keep it up- I’ll definitely be back for more!

  • Reply

    Brett

    27 weeks ago

    Hey! Awesome article – these are a lot of thoughts I’ve been having lately, and I loved reading it.

    One quick comment – in the last paragraph, you have ” Men and women will always have biologically different sex drives.” This implies that the amount of sex drive is tied to the gender (which might be true), but sort of instantly re-emphasizes the stereotype that the guy will have a higher sex drive than the girl. I think the intended implication is that our reasons for wanting sex are different (yes, no, maybe so?) but I don’t that message comes through in this line.

    Anyways, fantastic article, and I think more people knowing about this stuff will reduce a lot of anger and self-esteem issues.

  • Reply

    Sammy

    27 weeks ago

    Interesting. Have you done or could you do a similar study on sex as transaction/sex as performance in gay communities? Would be interesting to see how/if it differs. Cheers

  • Reply

    Noel

    27 weeks ago

    Perhaps there are generational differences at play here, but my experience is that the men in the dating pool have far more self confidence than their situations inspire. And the women in the dating pool are either having sex for pleasure and being independent or desperate to find a man with a decent job. Is it just me or are men in their early twenties living with their parents, playing video games, not getting jobs that could support a family, and still thinking they’re the hottest shit around?

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      27 weeks ago

      It really depends on which men you’re meeting. And if a man thinks he’s the hottest shit around, it’s merely the same insecurity manifest in a different way.

    • Reply

      john

      7 weeks ago

      I think thats true and it goes both ways, girls are also doing that, probably not with video games but with other unproductive stuff. But again sex must not be based on productivity now, because according to your reasoning, the nerd who developed a videogame himself and now is rich is allowed to feel good about himself, in my opinion men and women should feel good about themselves but society tell us we are not good if we do. Basically we should be able to feel attracted and entittled to fuck eachothers, if you dont then ere is something wrong.

  • Reply

    stephen buck

    26 weeks ago

    Yeah, i liked your article. It was very funny! And good advice to boot. Keep those articles coming. Cheers!

  • Reply

    Shosh

    25 weeks ago

    Cringing at #2. I’m a woman and I’ve never felt like a man was supposed to sweep me off my feet. Now, I *have* felt like I had to be a certain degree of “hot” in order to ever be eligible to touch a man. Luckily, I am engaged now and am not as self conscious as I once was, but still… if Disney has taught us women anything, it’s more that we have to have giant eyes and be the beauty of the town and have a million guys fighting over us in order to be loved at all. NOT that a man has to be some prince charming to be able to be with us.
    I’ve read that you’ve said you’re a “reformed Nice Guy”… I’d do some more work if I were you. If this is how you view women, as waiting for you to wow us, you’re seriously in another universe.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      25 weeks ago

      Your experience is just that: yours. Don’t make assumptions about others based on it. I’ve worked with a lot of women and their dating lives and one of the big common issues with them is expectations. Sure, the cultural norms of beauty pushed on to women harm them too. But just because you didn’t grow up with a specific issue doesn’t mean nobody did.

  • Reply

    Brittan

    24 weeks ago

    A wonderfully written piece! Anyone that took it too literally needs to go back and read it again, and see that the use of Disney is a light example of a more pressing issue. Well done, Mr. Manson. You have a voice worth reading.

  • Reply

    Kylie

    24 weeks ago

    There are parts of your article that I agree with, but there are some gaps. For example, your article makes a sweeping generalization that all women expect to be wooed, and that men are pressured to woo them, yet you aren’t taking into account what people value on an individual level.

    I argue that a woman’s desire to have a man with status is directly correlated to their level of emotional and financial independence. A woman who is self-sufficient is less inclined to hold displays of wealth as a requirement for mating than a woman who has been taken care of by mommy and daddy her whole life. In other words, a girl who can’t take care of herself is going to hold out for a man who will take care of her.

    Also, your article doesn’t make a distinction between the immediate and delayed reasons why people have sex, as in the difference between an initial hookup and a long-term relationship. When people who don’t know each other have sex for the first time, it’s usually because they have chemistry and it’s primarily physical. When people date and THEN have sex, there are other factors at work, and I think you should explore the differences between those scenarios.

    And what about love? You tell us the origins of marriage, you tell us about the perpetuation of these origins in modern sexual culture, but not once do you take into account that people fall in love and have sex as a result of falling in love. The people you are talking about in your article are superficial and are not interested in love – they are the kind of men that don’t buy a girl dinner unless they know she’ll put out, or the type of women that feel that they owe sex to a man because he bought her jewelry. Those are not people in love, those are people who just want sex or jewelry – when you truly fall in love, you fall in love with the way a person is, not with the things they have or do.

    SO, if your article is just about people who want to get sex without any obligation or attachment, then yes, I agree with you. People should just go up to each other and say “Wanna have sex?” and respond with a yes or no. Some people want that kind of sex life, but your article implies that this is the only kind of sex that anyone in society is after, and that is a false generalization.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      24 weeks ago

      There are other articles on the site that discuss these things. This article is specifically about how pop culture affects the sexual narrative.

      Not every article can include everything.

  • Reply

    T. Rob Brown

    24 weeks ago

    “And why is all of that so?” you might ask.

    To understand the Hero’s Journey and the process behind the majority of heroic adventure stories (regardless of genre, sci-fi, fantasy, action/adventure, Western, comedy, etc. — and yes, this includes most romance novels too)… read “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell. It is a study of mythology and early human communication and storytelling that exists within our culture to this very day.

    This is the very basis for WHY Disney, most of Hollywood, and most novelists create characters and stories based on these archetypes and mythic structure. Sure, they vary it, mix it up, and so on… but that is the source and inspiration for most of the modern storytelling techniques. There is something within us (perhaps it is all of those years of conditioning) that resonates and relates to a story that follows the Hero’s Journey. Nearly everything (from “The Wizard of Oz,” to “Star Wars” and Indiana Jones, “Lord of the Rings,” to most everything Disney has released) has been built from these theories of mythology and ancient storytelling. These stories ring true because we’ve known them since we were young — not just us as individuals but “us” as a race, as a society, and as a culture.

    I’m not saying that makes everything OK — I’m just saying, “take a look at this for another angle of insight.”

  • Reply

    Michael

    24 weeks ago

    For centuries 80% of women were always going for the top 15% of men while the remaining 85% remain sexless.This is why marriage was invented in the first place so that the bottom 85% of men would have a girl, hence they would have something to work for and thus contribute to society….and this is how society was built, on the backs of beta males who invent, and do all the jobs no one else wants to do to keep society running.

    Women have reason to be extra picky than men because if they got pregnant, they would risk to lose more. This evolutionary behavior still remains with contraceptives.

    Although Disney did make women extra picky about something stupid as height…you never see a short leading man who is shorter than his female lead that he eventually bangs.

    I think short guys suffered the most unless the short guy is famous.

  • Reply

    Carina Krehl

    19 weeks ago

    I loved this article. I quoted it in a Research Paper that I wrote for my Composition class. This piece tied all of my work together in a comically relieving way. I love all of your work, even if I may not agree with it all. As a psychology and writing addict, I find these articles to be comforting. People like you give me faith in the world and its future.

  • Reply

    Amanda

    19 weeks ago

    This was a great read, though I did feel it leaned a bit heavily toward a male perspective while addressing a condition (BS standards in our ‘universal’ western narratives) that effects both genders under discussion. The fact that “the hot girl” is the only girl ever shown as reward wasn’t really addressed, and is as big a problem for women’s sexual confidence as the pressure to be a Capital H Hero is for men. There are many, many antiheroes, many leading men that do not fit a ‘classically handsome’ mold, who get the girl or suffer for the girl or strive for then lose the girl and therefor become even more heroic, etc. Any man can look like a hero, although the chances of him being white are disproportionately high. There are NO stories I can think of off the top of my head where the woman they strive for or love endlessly isn’t “the hot girl”- in Hollywood films, even if they don’t get the hot girl and discover they wanted the good-girl best-friend the whole time, she will still be a “hot” girl. That fact, drilled into us from birth, is endlessly, indescribably damaging. To everyone, really.

    • Reply

      anonymouskinky

      18 weeks ago

      I have to agree with this. The last time I can remember a woman who was not stereotypically “hot” (Nell Carter from the sitcom “Gimme a Break.” She was a bbw, poc, middle aged woman.) as sexually desirable is from my childhood. And the last few seasons of the show saw a decided turn for the more stereotypical. She was no longer a lady who was always dating someone or having to turn men down. She was, instead, admitting she was undesirable and was depressed about her appearance.

      The other things I dislike about stereotypical western culture’s social norms surrounding gender and sexuality are that the woman is expected to be a passive part of the whole equation and that it sets up expectations that she is going to fall for “the hero.” This does not allow for the women who don’t want to sit around waiting in their ivory towers for someone to come be heroic at them. Maybe she’d prefer to be the hero who does the majority of the wooing. And it also discounts her opinion of any “hero” who is heroing in her general direction. What if she just doesn’t like that particular guy no matter how many dragons he slays? She’s likely to still get a lot of flack for not falling into his arms. And he’s not likely to understand why she’s not putting out like a proper damsel. So many problems it’s hard to even know where to begin.

  • Reply

    mavis

    14 weeks ago

    Interesting article, but I think there is one point you may have overlooked. You say that men are conditioned to believe that in order to get the hot girl, they have to do something heroic. And that puts pressure on them and lowers their confidence. At the same time, women are bombarded with the message that we have to be “hot” in order to be pursued by a man…and not all of us are “hot” by conventional standards. So what does that do to our self esteem? Throughout the article, you continue to refer to the “hot girl” or the “pretty girl.” Do you believe that all women are attractive, or are those the only ones you”ve considered? Do regular, average girls even have a place in this story? I hope that what I’m saying makes sense.

    • Reply

      john

      7 weeks ago

      This is not a discution about who have it more difficult in that scenario, but since you brought it up, I think that the only thing a woman have to do to get a guy even if its only for one night is to open her legs when she wants to, if the guy says no she can say he is gay or a pussy and society will agree and this also include ugly women, she can just choose a guy and go for it. Like comedian criss rock says penis is free, pussy cost money, or something like that.

  • Reply

    stephen

    13 weeks ago

    nice but don’t you think it’s harsh on the side of movie directors because it is mirror of what is obtainable in our society today so they are just being creative.

  • Reply

    Ferd Berfle

    13 weeks ago

    “No one marries for political power”

    Ummm… Hillary Clinton anybody?

    Well, to be fair to the author’s context – she and Bill *did* get married way back in the 20th Century.

  • Reply

    Bridget

    13 weeks ago

    If by men and women will have biologically different sex drives – you mean that women have higher sex drives than men – then I agree. In my entire life, I have yet to meet a man that can keep up with my sex drive, and most of my friends are in the same position. It is conventional myth that men want it more, and leads to such disappointment.

  • Reply

    Kokoro Dudu

    13 weeks ago

    Hmmm.. can’t wait for that day that shag can be had for the same of shag.

  • Reply

    Marta

    6 weeks ago

    Hey Mark. I generally like what you write, because you just have a healthy approach to many things. This post however, combined with the one about what does it mean to be needy, made me cringe a bit and I didn’t know why. I analyzed it again and I think I found it.

    What if… what if we introduce a revolutionary idea of seing women as another human beings? This someone, sitting opposite to you is not a “pussy” (on-the-pedestal or not), it’s not a “vagina”, it’s a person, with all the complexity that comes with it. I like flirting, I like this pleasant tickling when a guy is flirting with me, but what I like even more is when the guy doesn’t “play the Game” with me, but when he sees a person in me. I’m also much more likely to sleep with a guy who treats me like a human being, is genuinely interested with the last book I read and just likes being around me.

    The truth is, however, that every single time I tried to break the passive/active scheme, things simply didn’t work out. It’s like guys have it genetically imprinted, that if it’s easy to get, then it’s not worthy. You gotta be the prettiest apple on the furthest branch in order to make guy think you’re interesting. Every time I offer to meet for a beer or coffee, I can be 100% sure that it’s not gonna work. Let him invite you – the surefire way of having him interested. And of course, it’s bad. I mean, if only I, as a woman, could openly be the active side, the world would be a much better place.

  • Reply

    RM

    4 weeks ago

    “A proud vagina-recipient”. That made my day.

  • Reply

    David

    3 weeks ago

    “Disney is wholly responsible for your lack of sexual confidence.” – Mark Manson

    An interesting article, but a bit oversimplified.

    Here is an oversimplification on my part: If movies were not about the heroic, no one would pay money to see them. Star Wars, the Matrix, Harry Potter, Snow White use the same basic theme because it is part of human nature.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      3 weeks ago

      Movies can continue to be heroic without objectifying men and women’s sex lives.

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