I’ve been thinking a lot about gay male culture specifically with regard to sex. This is mostly because I would argue that sex is the one cultural act that unites all gay men and that it is our primary cultural export.
We do naturally have our own issues when it comes to sex as a community. It’s not surprising that a community as wrought with self deprecation as ours is would find itself immersed in silent forms of internalized oppression, and that those oppressive ideals would then work their way into our cultural practices. This particular post from a porn tumblr brings to the table some interesting problems that many of us face not from outside our community, but from within. At the risk of being pedantic, let us begin by first enumerating these issues, followed by explaining their roots in homophobia, heteronormativity, and misogyny.
After reading this account of two men finding one another online for a night of what was to likely be mostly anonymous sex on the website bbrt.com, a website designed to help users locate partners to engage primarily in unprotected anal sex, we see some immediately relatable situations as gay men. Firstly, online dating is very commonplace for gay men. The majority of this “dating” is centered around finding sexual partners rather than romantic partners. While widespread online dating is something that is relatively new for heterosexual people, queer persons, especially queer men, have been engaged in this activity since the inception of the publicly accessible Internet in the early 90s (and in the face of an epidemic, I might add). We also see that there is an emphasis here that is placed upon bareback sex. This is a taboo that is much more common now that advances in HIV treatment exist which remove it as a harbinger of death to inhabitants of wealthier countries. While there are many persons who could potentially have issues with the activities taking place here (anonymous sex, homosexual sex, Internet dating, and bareback sex) not only are these activities ones that homosexuals come into contact with on a regular basis, but they are completely acceptable behaviors. I’m not saying that all homosexuals engage in bareback sex on a daily basis. I’m saying that it has become something of a norm in our community that is regularly discussed in online dating situations and viewed in pornography. Not everyone who identifies as SGL participates in these activities, but they are familiar to our community from a cultural perspective. As with any sexual activity, consent is key. I essentially want to make it perfectly clear that I have no issues with these activities, and I go so far as to support them so long as the participants are consenting adults. I simply wanted to make note of some visible and recognizable cultural happenings here with regard to our sexual activities as gay men.
Now let us move on to the more nuanced issues in this original blog post which caught my attention. We have as characters in this story Big Daddy Breeder (BDB) who identifies as an “Alpha Top” and we also have the power bottom or “Alpha Bottom” (AB) as OP describes them. BDB (OP) apparently went to a man’s house expecting them to engage in bareback anal sex more than one time “making babies.” This is a fairly new popular fetish among gay men, playing off the idea that our primal minds believe that our sex is procreative when in fact and practice it is not. It is further exemplified by the use of the word “pussy” as reference to the bottom’s anus. OP begins telling the story by saying that ‘this and similar stories are why Alpha Tops don’t smile,’ and proceeds to tell a story in which his sexual partner, after getting off one time, loses steam and decides that he is no longer interested in sex with OP. OP is very unhappy with this, implies that he is now plotting the death of his former sexual partner, and gives this as a reason for him not smiling.
This encounter is wrought with misogyny, or hatred of the feminine, which means that it is also wrought with homophobia. Firstly, both of these men are designated “alphas.” It is often implied in popular culture that men who submit to other men are lesser, but if we designate both men as “alpha” then that removes that shame and implication, right? The later occurrences in this story seem to prove otherwise, as is demonstrated by OP’s anger and frustration with AB’s refusal to give up his “pussy” for more sex. OP is showing something commonly referred to as “male entitlement.” This is common in heterosexual culture, the idea of a man getting frustrated to the point of violence for being denied what he views as his right to a woman’s body. This idea continues to propagate itself through the connected idea that a woman is less than a man because she submits to him sexually. Here with OP’s story, we have an Alpha Bottom. This is to show us that this bottom is not like most men who submit to other men, he’s a REAL man. He’s an Alpha. But, this Alpha is still less than, and should be subservient to, OP because he is still a bottom. Thusly, the consent of the AB may be legally and morally necessary to continue the sexual interaction, but the lack of his consent also deserves anger, frustration, and threats of violence/murder as a response.
There are other subtle examples of misogyny in this account, starting with the idea that “Alpha Tops Don’t Smile.” OP says that he doesn’t smile because he is a violent man who holds onto his anger for the lack of consent given to him by sexual partners. I would argue that he doesn’t smile because he is living in a reality in which the display of emotion is seen as an indication of femininity, and femininity is something that is lesser than, and unacceptable. How many smiles do you see on homosexual dating sites? In a world where masculinity is the decided top-rung (no pun intended) ideal, of course a lack of displays of emotion would follow. Feelings and emotions have long been associated with the feminine. Don’t cry, be a man. But now also: don’t smile, be a man.
The threat of violence against AB here could also be seen as misogyny not against AB, but rather OP himself. How is OP the victim when he is the one making threats? Well, I would like to note that violence has always been a source of proof of masculinity. If you go to Twitter and check out the #masculinitysofragile hashtag, it is easy to find men who are threatened by this hashtag so much that they threaten violence against women. This is essentially because these men, like OP, do not understand that they are trapped in an oppressive understanding of what masculinity is. They have been told through images and examples that masculinity is violence.
A final example of misogyny found here in this post would be in the idea that
in order to be really a masculine man, a man must always be ready and willing for sex.
This is an idea that is particularly bad news for men, as it implies that there is no such thing as the rape of a real man. The idea is manifested here in this story by the response to AB’s denial of consent. Expectations are powerful. OP clearly had the expectation of a sexual interaction that would last more than one round, and was baffled and thrust into violent anger when his expectations were not met. On one hand, he is showing his male entitlement to his sexual partner’s body by demonstrating this anger, on the other hand, he is showing that the AB is less than a man for being a “useless bottom bitch” that is not capable of lasting more than one round or willing to try.
This is how misogyny damages men. This is how, by hating the feminine and devaluing it, we are perpetuating violence within our own community and endangering one another to external homophobia by continuing the idea that men who submit to other men are lesser. We must stop placing undue importance upon masculinity. We must work to understand destructive masculinity in our communities and -in ourselves- in order to dismantle the self-hatred and homophobia that has shaped our realities and viewpoints of ourselves and each other.
And to cuminhimdaily: never publicly announce threats of violence to one of your sexual partners again. You have a responsibility to gay men and to yourself. Your threats may be empty, but fucking Christ dude, what if somebody thinks of this and feels justified in their future actions? What kind of community are we fostering here?
As usual, any criticisms any of you might have about my commentary are welcomed.
OP, I’m sorry that I could not reblog your original post but Tumblr would not allow me to write my commentary on it. Since I was so critical of your original post, I’m sure you will not mind.