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Male Sexuality: Why Women Don't Understand It-And Men Don't Either Hardcover – Oct 3 2008


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Review

Dr. Bader calls us back from our current temptation to censor and judge sexuality and reminds us that understanding erotic life is the best cure for what ails it. (Kim Cattrall, Star of Sex and the City)

Michael Bader's ideas are original and provocative, grounded in scholarship, and illustrated by ample case studies. He argues persuasively that sexual pursuits that look perverse and have been fodder for fear mongering and censorship might be better understood as fantasy play that reassures one against hidden fears. That he arrives at a place of optimism and compassion for our relationships and ourselves should give hope to us all. (Phillip Freeman)

Michael Bader's Male Sexuality is a fascinating and brilliant book that will appeal to men and women who wish to understand and improve their sexual relationships. The topics range from conventional marital relationships to internet sex, the use of pornography and prostitution, to romance novels, explored within the social context that conditions our attitudes toward male and female roles. Clearly and beautifully written, enlivened by vignettes from Dr. Bader's extensive clinical practice, this book is a must-read for everyone interested in what makes both male and female sexuality what it is. (Louis Breger, The Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis; author of Freud: Darkness in the Midst of Vision)

Michael Bader knows men. He probes the multiple layers of male sexuality with a kindness and compassion that are rare. This book is such a good read—I kept thinking 'Yes, he gets it.' (Esther Perel, Columbia University, author of Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence)

Two themes dominate: most fantasies and hang-ups are rooted in childhood, tied to men’s formative relationships and the examples set by their parents; and the exacerbating effect of feelings like guilt, responsibility and isolation that many men don’t understand. Using numerous case studies from his 25-plus years in the field, Bader returns to these themes repeatedly to explain why men are drawn to the anonymity and relatively consequence-free arena of internet sex, infidelity and younger women. He makes a number of reasoned points when it comes to sexual politics and what makes men tick....Bader’s clinical studies should prove accessible and thought-provoking among couples, singles and academics. (Publishers Weekly 2009-01-01)

With the publication of Male Sexuality Michael Bader firmly establishes himself in the forefront of therapists writing about sexuality. Dr. Bader seeks to understand something that is not generally understood, something that is off-limits to many, guarded by cultural dragons and censors. But he's a courageous and intrepid adventurer in search of a Holy Grail: the very core of male sexuality. His discoveries are wise, thoughtful...and controversial. (Phillip Kaufman, Director of The Unbearable Lightness of Being)

In this sophisticated and gripping analysis, [Bader] shows us why male sexuality behavior is often shaped by needs for love and safety that are frequently misunderstood. (Tikkun 2009-02-01)

Most useful to therapists who do insight-oriented therapy and nonacademic readers interested in this subject. Recommended. (CHOICE)

About the Author

Michael Bader, DMH, is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst who has been in practice for over 25 years. He is a widely respected teacher, public speaker, and therapist and lives in San Francisco.

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Amazon.com: 22 reviews
38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Amazingly Illuminating, A Must Read for Men Nov. 12 2009
By AS - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was one of the most revelatory books I have read in a while. Even though it is under 200 pages, it took me a long time to read because there was so much in it. Culturally, men are supposed to be these sexual automatons (like the main character on HBO's "Hung") but the reality is that male sexuality is very psychologically complex and this book flushes out the reasons why in a sympathetic and understanding voice.

The book really gets into the dichotomy of being male - the simultaneous instincts for intimacy and security and one hand and freedom and limitless on the other. Bader believes that guilt - guilt for being a male, for showing love for someone besides his mother, for having desire for women who ostensibly look at male attraction as something that is domineering - is principally what ails men so much in their sex lives.

"Boys grow up with the belief, however irrational, that one of the most basic ways they can potentially hurt women is by simply being male. (23)." "Unfortunately, boys often grow up with the false and painful belief that their separation has hurt their mothers or that their own pride in being masculine is the object of maternal envy. The resulting guilt can cause a range of problems: it can force some boys to play down their difference, suppress their pleasure, or mute their pride in their masculinity (24)." One of the main consequences of this is that men often think that being sexually assertive is distasteful and turns off the opposite sex.

Upon feeling guilty, men react by either pushing women away by feeling an exaggerated sense of responsibility for women (I don't want to hurt her, I will hurt her feelings and end up repressing her if we get too close) or objectifying them (more of an aggressive impulse, equating intimacy with a weakening of one's masculine boundaries) [all this on pages 32-33 in the discussion of "ruthlessness."]. "The reason that a woman's need becomes the man's obligation is because of the unconscious belief that he is supposed to satisfy a woman's needs. Caught between feeling resentful that they have to suppress their own needs to make women happy, and feeling guilty about their chronic failure to do so, men are often unable to pursue sexual pleasure with even a momentary disregard for their partners (33)."

This is a very illuminating and challenging book that will help men understand what is behind their sexual urges and, hopefully, help more learn to accept themselves with less guilt.

And yet, going along with the taboo nature of it, I felt embarrassed reading it. I always read it alone in my room when everyone was out. I feel embarrassed to talk about things in this book with anyone. I'm hoping that books like this will change that.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Understanding Men Benefits Women April 5 2013
By Sarah Martinez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you are at all interested in looking past old assumptions about the minds and hearts of these wonderful creatures, this is the book for you. If you are just curious, you will still be rewarded by reading. At the very least you will come away with a new appreciation for the "dirty movie".

There was a time when I based what I thought about men's internal lives on what I saw in porno movies, predators I encountered when I was running the streets and badly executed sexual experiences as a teenager. I am sure I was influenced to some extent by the jokes people made on TV and everywhere else about which head guys used to think with, or the bored housewife who contemplated what color to paint the ceiling while hubby was on top of her.

In contrast to this, there were always boys and men that I admired, and appreciated for their thoughtfulness and kind words at certain times in my life. I hoped, but I wasn't convinced, that men were actually capable of thought and feeling while their sex parts were engaged. The ex-boyfriend reinforced this idea by saying all men ever wanted was to get laid and would lie, cheat, steal and sometimes murder to do it. One bit of advice I never forgot: "They all cheat. Put a man in a room alone with a woman who is ready to go. He. Will. Cheat. The smart ones just know how to keep themselves out of that situation." Every single man I have told this to has confirmed the validity of the statement.

Depressing if you've ever taken on a relationship commitment that assumes you, the dutiful woman are expected to be faithful.

What I imagined went on in their minds went something like this: Gooood. Weeeeeeeeet. Soooooooooooft. Tight! Over and over until the big bang. The men I questioned did little to help. Whenever I asked what sex was like I got some variation of this: "Really good! Ummm. Like, it's hot and wet and umm, even when it is bad it feels really good."

Now I see I was asking the wrong question. I still wonder what things would have been like if I had read Marco Vassi as a teenager.

Common jokes and frustrations are explored in this book, from porn addiction, workplace aggression, infidelity, and what one might call plain old selfishness...He's already done, and you Oh My Sister, were about to achieve full levitation. He might as well have dropped you on the cold hard floor. It's Not Fair!!!(Had to reference that great song by Lily Allen)

Bader argues that this behavior might actually be a sign that he is more worried about pleasing you than you might assume as you lay dying. He says that what the guy is really dealing with is an excessive concern about the wellbeing of women, beginning of course with his mother. This results in an additional sense of responsibility, and leads to an increase in anxiety which results in them ignoring their own feelings, and those of the women they are with.

If you're like me you'll have one eyebrow raised as you read this. You may even scratch your head and think, you mean he's not just being a jerk because he has gotten away with it his whole life? By the end of the book, you might find the author makes an excellent case for at least considering the possibility that more is going on.

And if this is true, you've opened yourself up to everything else the book suggests. He introduces the notion that men are only allowed to show their feelings with women who are not equipped to understand everything about them; this burdens women and limits men in their emotional development. Huge! Did you know there were things called Men's Groups? Awesome deals these...

Several topics in the book will benefit women directly. He addresses the power of fantasy (sex is all in the mind, baby) pathogenic beliefs--thoughts that cause you to do things that are unhealthy and one of the most important: ruthlessness, a concept that means you must be selfish in order to get off. He says that excitement breaks down under worry or guilt. Ah-hah! So let go of those miserable thoughts, (often planted by advertisers) that plague the bedroom. Stop worrying about your breath, your jiggling whatever or the noises you make, and as the author encourages, stop worrying about him! You are already in bed, enjoy yourself and he will too.

Chapters that cover youth fantasies, rape fantasies (this one was a real eye opener and I suggest reading this very closely before jumping to conclusions) aggression and pornography, make this book really really valuable.

The examples he gives of patients he has seen in his thirty year career worked really well to make this book accessible. One example he gave was a man who liked to have sex from behind so he could be spared the inevitable (in his mind) look of disappointment on the woman's face. Another was about a couple who were having sexual problems due to changes in the wife's body. Neither one of them would stop to consider the reasons for what the other was feeling. The wife felt hurt because the husband refused to use extra lubricant as part of their bedroom scene, and the husband felt insulted because she was no longer able to get wet when she was with him. He felt that this was a reflection on him as a person. If you're able to set aside whatever judgments are easy to make in this type of situation, the lesson about communication is a powerful one.

The author is not saying that lying, cheating, and investing precious time in addictive behavior is admirable, but does give excellent reasons why these things happen.

He agrees that wives have a right to be angry when husbands lie, or spend time away from home maintaining extra-marital affairs, or nursing fantasy relationships instead of putting that energy into their own real life relationship. The author also offers (again, setting aside the seductive need to judge) that the wife should be aware that real life may come with the belief, that home and his wife are where he has to face his failure, his inadequacy, his inability to truly make her happy. The fantasy women whether they are strippers, prostitutes, women behind a chat room screen or actors in adult movies represent a place to go to be free of all that and just enjoy themselves.

This is an important book and I hope anyone interested in the topic of sexual issues (the sections on pathogenic beliefs and ruthlessness would probably even resonate with women having sex with women) will give some attention to.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Courageous attempt to understand without pathologizing or overcondoning June 30 2010
By O.L. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Written with a lot of compassion and insight about how male sexuality often gets formed and manifested in American (or Western) culture.

Has very good explanations, among others, of the reasons why men use porn, and why women's reaction to that usage are so often off-base (although perfectly understandable).

Overemphasizes in my opinion the role of male guilt in men's relations with women (tends to see it as the sole reason behind men's use of pornography--i.e. that men are simply looking for an experience in which women enjoy being sexual with men without acting hurt, this is a valid reason in my opinion but not necessarily the only one [I also think men use pornography, for example, because it's a way of having an {imaginary} sexual experience with a woman without any possibility of rejection--which has nothing to do with guilt]).

Other reviewers who gave this work the lowest-possible rating to me don't seem like they read the same book; they seem like they heard what they thought the author was saying rather than what he actually does say (possibly for political reasons). It is *not* an intellectualized exercise in justifying pornography, in fact he touches on what I would consider a reason for this (mis)reading--many women often feel that if they *understand* men's sexual behavior they will be by definition required to *accept* it without any possible of challenging it--this is of course not the case, the point is to be able to confront it in a way which has a higher chance of achieving a mutually satisfactory resolution since 1) it is based on a deeper psychological understanding of what's behind the behavior(s), and 2) it is done more with a compassionate spirit rather than hostile and/or destructive one.

All in all an excellent and healing work, and I look forward to future writings from the author.
22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Eye-opening premise, thorough research Dec 1 2008
By Ogg-the-Bear - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As someone who prefers evidence based psychological stuff over pop-psych Oprah-esque nonsense, Michael Bader's text is solid and revealing. I wish there were more case studies in the work to cover a broader range of the extant continuum of human sexuality and relational differences, but for the mainstream, this is sufficiently thorough. The harder part is finding a therapist who can help couples figure out their pathenogenic beliefs about the other gender and undo them because so many conventional therapists are simply unaware of Bader's work. I fear that much like other men's issues, the mainstream will stick to their pop-psych men are from mars nonsense and perpetuate unnecessary pain in relationships. Bader's work is a must-read if you're a straight man or a woman who loves straight men.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A plea to understand May 1 2012
By G. Stucco - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author of "Arousal", a practicing clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, did a very good job in arguing against common wisdom that men are not "pigs", sexual opportunists, or callous exploiters of the "gentler sex." Rather, men's sexual proclivities and hung-ups often stem from an attempt to counter pathogenic bliefs stemming from the unconscious, and to attain that sexual happiness to which both genders legitimately aspire. I felt he validly upheld the difference betwen sadism and pathological deviances on the one hand, and the need to mantain a certain degree of ruthlessness and un-inhibited behavior, on the other hand.
To demonize men's sexual behavior is to be close minded; one should rather strive to understand it. I felt this to be supremely true in the case of men struggling with fear of rejection and abandonment. Thus, decoding sexual fantasies and preferences (e.g., big breasted women, bondage, seduction, fetishes for skirts and heels) is a process that explores truths buried in the unconscious. I found the chapter on "Sexual Boredom and Infidelity" particularly insightful.


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