gay porn professor
gay porn professor

Yep, Gay Porn’s Important, and Here Are 4 Things This Professor Learned From Studying It

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Dr. Joseph Brennan — a media and communications professor at the University of Sydney, Australia — has done an extensive amount of research on gay porn, particularly how it’s marketed and the online comments reacting to it.

“Beyond talk of the ‘pornification’ of gay culture or the mainstreaming of gay porn,” he said in a recent interview, “I believe more simply that gay porn has played an historically important part in our community.”

He has published a handful of papers on the topic. Here are four things he has learned during his research:

 

1. Guys with smaller penises tend to be marketed as ‘feminine’ bottoms in porn.

Before you file this observation under “duh,” it matters for two reasons: First, it stands in opposition to reality, in which desire — rather than penis-size — determines a partner’s sexual role.

Second, Brennan found that tops in porn are frequently described as “masculine,” “aggressive” or “take-charge,” while bottoms are described as “boyish,” “slutty” and even “hysterical.” These descriptions reinforce gender stereotypes that depict bottoms as more feminine. Such stereotypes affect the perceptions of gay porn viewers and perpetuate porn scenes that exhibit the same sexual dynamics over and over again.

 

2. Viewers like “abuse” and “exploitation” porn, unless it’s too real-looking.

While researching gay porn news sites, Brennan found that “sites with graphic rape simulations and themes of exploitation seem to thrive online.” One such site is Boys Halfway House, a site where the camera uses a first-person point-of-view to put viewers in the role of a predatory social worker preying on poor, younger boys in need.

Gay porn viewers get turned on by taboo power dynamics, but Brennan adds, “Viewers make distinctions between ‘good’ (stylized) and ‘bad’ (uncomfortably realistic) abuse porn.” A recent article on this study concluded, “There seems to be a fuzzy line that, when crossed, makes viewers feel like they’re participating in rape culture.”

 

Jake Lyons
Jake Lyons

3. A “discourse of disposal and disgust” surrounds condomless twink bottoms.

Unless you’re a voracious porn fan, you may not know about Jake Lyons, a twink performer who began as a bottom and eventually starred in condomless (“bareback”) porn before leaving the scene around 2012. Brennan found that online commenters treated Lyons as worth jerking-off to and little else. He also found they reacted with disgust once Lyons began his condomless porn performances — a notable reaction that contradicts the increasing popularity of so-called bareback porn.

Granted, Lyons existed before the advent of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medications — medicines that reduce the transmission of HIV up to 99.9%  — and many online commenters at the time judged performers for perpetuating “risky” sexual behaviors.

Brennan said he found the reactions to Lyons worth studying, not only because “It relates to sexual health concerns resulting from high-risk sexual practice facing the industry and gay community, but also because it has something to tell us about the consumption of gay porn and the objectification and disposal of gay male performers, twink bottoms particularly.”

4. Some viewers get off on capitalists exploiting men from former communist countries.

Gay porn sites like Czech Hunter, Debt Dandy and Dirty Scout all feature a common theme of Western tourists pressuring needy ‘Eastern European’ men into having sex for cash. It’s an ‘exploitation theme’ similar to that of Boys Halfway House.

Brennan argues, “Such themes are the result of a residual attraction associated with the opening up of Eastern Europe to the West in the 1990s and that the promise of these sites is access to the (not-so-)newly available, particularly vulnerable, young men supposedly easily exploited by the money of Westerners.”

Such porn sites also reinforce a regionalist view of Western superiority and military might, which plays into American and Euro-centric depictions of the Cold War and hints at the ongoing tension between Western countries and those closer to Russia.