I don't think that it is one of the century's best-kept secrets that many, if not most, men in America struggle with lust on a fairly continuous basis. Our culture is saturated with it. There are constant encouragements of it, and outside of our Christian friends, there is almost an expectation of it.
So imagine my surprise when while conducting a Bible study and talking about those things that most threaten us, I gently suggested that the major difficulty in the world today was the plethora of beautiful women. Some women have merely physical beauty--but almost every woman I see is beautiful in some substantial way. That's just the way God made me and I'm not ashamed of it.
Now, I'll readily admit that despite the huge number of beautiful women, I have little chance or real-life temptation. (This is by the grace of God--I'm not one of the more attractive men around--nothing particularly hideous, just nothing prepossessing.) Nevertheless, the number of women in the world is like a constant low-level intoxicant. And the number of physically gorgeous women who are forced upon our senses by the media is truly astounding.
Anyway, I think I've amply explained one man's view of the world. Well, you can't begin to imagine my chagrin when the women in the group said, "That isn't how men think. That doesn't describe all men. What about gay men?"
Well, I can't really speak for gay men. Nor can I speak for all men. But let me say in my limited circle of acquaintance (admittedly not high-powered CEOs etc.) one of the things I hear quite often is that lust is a top (if not the top) temptation they face day by day. Most of them, like me, having no real opportunity, thus no real temptation, acknowledge nonetheless that it is a constant problem. Some indulge in pornography, others in other means of addressing the problem (read here sublimation, if you buy Freudian theory--which I don't). But the heterosexual men of my acquaintance all admit to facing this problem and trying to deal with it. Now my observation of homosexual men and their world suggests to me that this may be even a greater problem amongst them. (Although homosexual promiscuity may be a by-product of no way to recognize and affirm a committed relationship--about this I cannot speculate, nor can anyone else at this time. And, we must also keep in mind that the heterosexual world only ever gets a glimpse of the true excesses of the homosexual world. It's entirely possible that there are a vast majority of non-promiscuous homosexual men. However, living inside a man's body, I can tell you that this seems unlikely to me.)
Anyway, I spent the better part of the session saying that for men the presence and presumed "availability" of some portion of the female population represented every bit the temptation that most of the women there were telling me food presented for them. Now, I suspect that food is not so pervasive a temptation in the female world as lust is in the male world--but here again I enter upon sheer speculation--in fact my thin ice has become for all intents and purposes nonexistent. I don't know that a majority of men are assailed by lust on a regular (if not daily basis), no more can I know for what percentage of women food represents some sense of comfort and security. And I refuse to speculate as it is none of my business. All I can report are the anecdotal evidence and numbers supported by the very small bible study.
Now, let me say, I don't think lust as a temptation comes as much of a revelation. It drives the reason for a great many things--becoming successful, powerful, wealthy; buying the cars men of a certain age buy; certain, shall we say, "mating plumage" behaviors usually involving minoxidil/rogaine or hair transplants; and the extraordinary success of the drug Viagra (which if one is to trust one's spam e-mail must be the product of choice for half of the men in the world.)
I don't know what part lust plays in a woman's world. I suspect that for most women it is neither the predominant nor the most difficult vice to overcome. But again--what can I say? I live in the wrong body to give any speculation as to that. I do know that our society (driven in large part by men's concerns) does try to foist off on women what men would like them to be and to think. Thus we cultivate the image of the "unchained" woman giving free vent to her caprices. I have to wonder whether that is true or an image superimposed on the world by men who would like it to be true.
Let us end by saying, that I don't think it should come as any surprise to women if men admit to being tempted by lust. It should also not come as any surprise that relatively few of those I know act upon the temptation. I know the numbers are larger in the world at large--but some of us have wonderful wives and families which always serve, by the grace of God and the sacrament of matrimony, as the counterbalance to our wildly swinging urges. Nevertheless, it shouldn't surprise any woman to find that "her man" is appreciating the bounty served up every day by a merciful, loving, and extremely generous God. My only defense is that God made women beautiful--it's not my fault if I find them endlessly fascinating, endlessly appealing. But the rule, as in a shop of expensive translucent china, is look but never ever ever touch (if'n it don't "belong" to you.)
Anway, it surprised me to hear that women did not believe that men very often are distracted by women. I get the feeling that women don't have any idea just how much power they wield by simple existence. The feminist movement bought into the male fantasy and did their best in some ways to remove this power base. Smart women still know they have it and wise women seldom condescend to use it.