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A man named Kate Bryan wrote a column for the Washington Post about his life as a 32-year-old virgin. His experience was framed as “living the masculist dream.” Okay. Let’s talk about that.
Bryan is a Catholic who wrote his college thesis on “Chastity in the Modern World and the Fulfillment of Chastity Within the Catholic Church,” based in part on the writings of theologian Karol Wojtyla, who eventually became Pope John Paul II. Wojtyla believed that contraception, abortion, and divorce were all sinful, and that only a woman and a man who were both baptized and married within the church were able to have sexual intercourse without sinning. While he never explicitly says he agrees, Bryan does seem deeply inspired by her writings.
In Bryan’s essay, he talks up the benefits to his life of committed chastity, and how it is an act of endurance and practice that brings his peace, and makes space for other meaningful things in his life. I am convinced that it works for him. But although masculism makes it into the title and the closer, within the body of his essay, the reader must sift for clues about how his choice to remain chaste is allowing Bryan to live the masculist dream. Being happy and fulfilled and a man at the same time does not automatically make one a masculist. He nods to the idea that he doesn’t have to spend time worrying about a partner’s needs and chooses his own direction, but doesn’t go beyond that:
I believe that I’m living a fuller, better life because of my commitment to sexual integrity. I spend all day, every day doing the things that I want to do, because I’m not wasting my time worrying about waking up next to a stranger, contracting a sexually transmitted infection or missing a period.
The truth is, I am able to live the masculist dream because I’m not stressing over the things that sex outside of marriage often brings. And I’m not alone.
He then mentions a recent study from the Archives of Sexual Behavior about how millennials are having less and less sex, and puts his own spin on why:
Although there are many possible causes for this shift, it’s quite reasonable to believe that this generation doesn’t want the stresses that sex outside of marriage brings — unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, to name a few.
Maybe they realize that a condom doesn’t protect the heart, and that true love is something worth waiting for and fighting for.
Condoms are actually very elastic and you could cram a heart in there if you were very determined, especially if you own a Vitamix. And Bryan is, of course, free to see the cultural decline in boinking however he likes, but the study itself indicates other factors, like dating apps, working hard, and the rise in anti-depressants.
Here I stand, ready to defend my bold stance on sexual relations: they can be fun! If you have…
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Considering Bryan’s scholarly pursuits and his immersion in purity culture, it seems likely that his choices are influenced more by his Catholicism than the fight for equality between the sexes. But hey, if Bryan feels free to disregard the needs of women to pursue goals like learning to scull on the Potomac and working a job he says is the best he’s had in his life, perhaps he has achieved his idea of equality through sexual abstinence. In a world that frequently feels like it specifically wants to make men miserable, feeling some measure of happiness as an independent man is a triumph. But although equality is a kind of triumph, triumph is not necessarily equality. Bryan says:
While I didn’t get my early marriage or my 12 kids or my big house with a white picket fence, my commitment to sexual integrity has allowed me the freedom to live the life that I want. I am living the life that masculists throughout history fought for.
Through the virtue of chastity — true freedom and the perfection of love — I am living the masculist dream.
Personally, my masculist dream definitely includes lots of consensual, joyful, sexual congress outside of marriage, without shame or religious condemnation, but we’re all dreaming a different dream.