In short because they have great difficulty not looking at women who can use their bodies as bodies and not just as sexual manipulatrixes.
That may take some explanation. So, from the beginning:
When I “signed up” for a live-in partnership with Heidi, I accepted the expectation that I would care for my body, including my abysmal posture, all stoop -shouldered and pot bellied – generally just plain very slack.
So i began attending weekly Pilates “lessons” with her and a couple girlfriends and with Giovanni, the husband of one of them. His role modeling saved my butt.
The instructor was/is one Libera Ceccharelli, a lithesome almost 50 with a dancer’s body that would be the envy of any woman in their 40’s, or 30’s! I didn’t take my eyes off her, and only in part so as to imitate the positions and movements she demonstrated as the session progressed. That was necessary in part as my ear was not used to her Italian, but also just because she excited me as she moved all her parts seemingly oblivious to how she affected me sexually.
The fact was, however, that it was not how she affected me. Rather it was how I reacted to her from where I was coming from at that time. Fortunately, I took my cues from Giovanni who had been a student of hers for about two years before I arrived. His presence gave me permission to just stay and deal with whatever I was feeling as the sessions continued (now for nearly another two years).
He was, or at least had become, able to see Libera primarily as our instructor during our sessions rather than as a beautiful woman moving her body in ways that often touch deep chords in men. I am happy to report that I too am able to see her beautiful body as that of my instructor and not as something my dick says that I’d like to fuck.
Not that there’s anything wrong with my dick seeing her like as an object of lust. That’s what dicks are programmed to do and I’m not trying to repress or in anyway ignore that basic function. It’s just that I don’t HAVE to see her that way! Hurray! To be crude but only to make a point: If I should see a table loaded with wonderful food, maybe I would try to eat some, or fill a bag and take some home. But I might also just see a wonderful display of things to eat, a few of which I might learn to prepare at home. I certainly don’t have to steal anything from the table.
But two years ago, her lovely figure was a definite distraction from the exercises I was learning. There’s my personal history and also my cultural context involved in that distraction.
Of course I absorbed growing up all the usual attitudes toward women, their appearance, what role they served in my life, what their body language was saying or implying, etc. Unchallenged, these views more or less continued for decades. And just now are they becoming clear enough for me to “publicly” discuss them from a relatively healthy perspective. Sorting out what is “nature” and what is “nurture” is coming into the sunlight just now.
The basic sexual response of boys/men to a particular type of woman (which type can vary from culture to culture) is centered in the penis. It tends to become erect. Simple! That erection DEPENDS on the specific “object” it has been “taught” to respond to. When those objects appear in unusual contexts, the sexual response and the conflicting context becomes confusing or upsetting to men. I see this as why men don’t like Pilates (or perhaps also Yoga, but I have no engagement with that and can’t speak to that).
First, for men to engage in Pilates, they may need to assume “femmy” positions. No push-ups or crunches but just stretching and allowing the body to relax into “unusual” positions that don’t require much simple strength – though strength does develop! This can apply to both straight and gay men to various degrees.
And second, men can actually fear losing masculinity by NOT seeing attractive women as sexual objects. Who am I if not a sexual being? How would I have to redefine myself? Would I still respond adequately to my actual sexual partner? Would I still be able to “get it up” when needed?
Women have an advantage here. Their sexual response is more subtle and roundabout. the clitoris is largely internal and, so to speak, needs to be coaxed out of hiding. Their sexual wiring requires a few more loops through the brain in contrast to the relatively simple circuit that operates from a single on-off switch in men. Women can employ a wide variety of approaches when selecting a partner. I would say they can be more consciously manipulative than men. Not that men cannot be manipulative when seeking sex, but they are usually much more transparent about it. And men need an erection in order to have sex while women don’t need to be particularly excited in order to participate.
Sexual relations between men and women (or among men and women) have a long , complicated and entwined history. Now we all have the possibility of redefining our sexual selves in new ways which can both free men from NEEDING to operate from just the basic and biological imperatives. And simultaneously women can be freed from the NEED to manipulate men sexually with their own “ulterior” motives.
I thank Giovanni for helping me cross this threshold in development.