Sexual acting out made the news recently when United States’ Secret Service men and military personnel were accused of misconduct for their alleged trysts with prostitutes in Cartagena, Columbia.

Prostitution is legal in Columbia so this is not a question of legality. According to news reports, the men paid for the services in advance but then disputed the charges after having received those services. Perhaps if there had not been such a dispute, none of this would have hit the media. (Most people who commit these and other types of sexual acting out don’t get caught.) But here we are.

These are not your everyday men. As part of the Secret Service and the military, they are seen by many as “elite” and “honorable.” They are professionals who handle delicate, privileged, and secret information. They are in a job that demands integrity and valor. Despite this, their male socialization trumped it all and their code of conduct fit the man-pact; “we are entitled to pay women for sexual gratification despite our familial and professional commitments and honor.” As far as we know, no man in that group stood up and said, “No, this isn’t the right thing to do.” It is often the case, that pack mentality can make bad behavior seem “normal.”

Is sexual acting out the same as sex addiction?

Are all of these men sex addicts? No. Are all of these men sexual predators? No. But, sexual acting out moves along a continuum. And while society and the media often focus on the egregious and criminal, normalization of sexual acting out in the male culture (e.g. use of pornography, extra-marital affairs, promiscuity, pay for sex, adult entertainment, Hooters, etc.) receives little, if any, commentary. This helps set the stage for more severe forms of sexual acting out, to which society then responds with pathological and predatory explanations.

I’m not suggesting that the men accused struggle with sex addiction or compulsive sexual acting out. But, many fathers, brothers, sons, partners, and spouses do struggle with these issues. Without effective and specialized sex addiction treatment, they will find themselves powerless over these urges, and eventually find their life in ruin. Consider that several men involved in the recent scandal are now unemployed and their reputations – and perhaps relationships – destroyed.

Shame on them for dishonoring their country, profession, familial relationships, and ultimately for dishonoring the “Few Good Men” amongst us who don’t buy into this form of male sexuality. If we want to change egregious sexual acts by men, then we have to change the overall culture of men. A few good men need to stand up and say, “We need to evolve, abandon our adolescent sexuality, and become adult sexual beings.” Mature men let intimacy and emotional attachment lead over desire for instant and fleeting sexual gratification.

The Men’s Resource Center of West Michigan teaches the basics of sex addiction, relapse prevention, and recovery in a supportive and caring environment. If you are concerned that you may be falling into the web of sex addiction, take our Sexual Addiction Screening Test. Or, contact the Men’s Resource Center. We help men break out of the shame, addictive patterns, and isolation of addiction.