Performance Anxiety And The Hush-Hush
Not only has patriarchal conditioning exhausted a man socially. It has also culturally, and familially, but even on the sexual forefront, men aren’t spared. While a woman faces condemnation for sexualizing herself at all, a man is somehow responsible for a mindblowing sexual experience. It somehow becomes as his life depends on it. While the schism itself is disturbing, it points towards how societal pressures, understandings, and expectations hinder people from enjoying decent sex – something that should come naturally to them. Human beings’ natural inclinations towards sex receive zero importance. However, our culturally placed values somehow override these realities to a point where even nature finds itself baffled. Let’s find out what performance anxiety is and why is it so hush-hushed!
Contrary to women, a man’s sexual proclivities are actually welcome in society. Although with a cost of putting harrowing pressure on him. As much as one would like to think performance anxiety is a deep-seated personal issue, it is largely created by cultural values. We’ve grown up internalizing that a man can do no wrong. This has left some men with a crippling sense of identity under the garb of being a provider and an alpha. Moreover, their inability to shed this Alpha facade only fuels their insecurities even more.
Performance anxiety is when a man feels pressured to please a woman or perform in bed. It can thus, lead to an emotional state of feeling nervous and frazzled. This can also result from negative body image for which we have all the ‘Penis size’ jokes to thank for, of course.
Let’s get one thing straight first and out of the way. The moment sex stops feeling like an enjoyable experience to look forward to and starts feeling like some exam. You need to stop right there and not put yourself in something unfair and brutal.
Sadly, performance anxiety doesn’t just live rent-free in your head. It makes its way to your nether regions, causing much more sexual discomfort and feelings of shame. A study in 2005 determined that there is indeed a clear link between performance anxiety and how it leads to sexual dysfunction in men. So, whether it was triggered by a bad ‘first time,’ porn and its constructed realities, or feeling nervous around a woman you care about – Erectile Dysfunction or ED is real and sadly less talked about.
While this is an old study, it has also been revealed that around 52% of men experience one or the other kind of ED in their lives. However, this does not necessarily have to do with age or bodily function per se. With the kind of mental health issues that have come up over the years or the dramatic shifts in society regarding sexuality. Even on the contrary, that millennials are indeed having bad or less sex than usual, this number doesn’t seem appalling for people even today.
But before you start recalling that one odd encounter and start looking up WebMD to ascertain whether you have ED or not hold your horses (no pun intended). A mishap here or there does not mean that there is something seriously wrong with your mind or body.
Just like sexual proclivities are natural, missteps are equally normal. So if you’ve ever faced some panic during a quickie in an uncomfortable position or have been under the influence during sex – the rush of it all is enough to confuse you at that moment. Or actually, even if it’s a perfectly normal happy day when you’re in bed with your girlfriend, and for once, things don’t go as smoothly as you expected to – that is also not a reason to panic. It is indeed performance anxiety, but not necessarily erectile dysfunction.
You’re not having sex for the world. Remember, neither are you under scrutiny by the woman you’re trying to have a good time with. Being so preoccupied with showing someone else a good time, it can take away from your experience completely and hers too! If you’re unsure of yourself in bed, it is perfectly alright to take a step back. Take a breather and decide whether you want to go through with it at all. Instead of jumping into bed which is just going to turn into a metaphor for jumping into a cycle of debilitating self-worth issues, work it out first. Then, it is alright to come back to it when you’re ready.
Graphic design by: Itti Mahajan