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Sex & Danger


Will
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The thread about Seroconversion Parties raises a number of thoughts, one of which I offer here. It is based on the following two suppositions, which of course may be incorrect.

 

First, I suppose that most of the men who participate in any form of HIV-risk-taking are young, mostly under forty. Forty-year-olds, born in 1961, were twenty when AIDS emerged, and many of them were infected because at that time we did not understand how the disease was transmitted or how deadly it was. However, men now in their mid-thirties reached sexual maturity at a time when the terror of HIV-infection and of those with AIDS was reaching its zenith. They have lived to see many of their friends get sick and die; they have also lived to see others, even themselves, maintain rather stable health on the new cocktails. For some in that group whom I know personally, fear of infection has begun to fade. What's more, by the time that men now in their early thirties entered puberty, the mechanism of HIV transmission and its inhibitors were well-known; in other words, sexually active gay men under, say, thirty-one or thirty-two have never known what it is like to be able to have sex without thinking that they might die from it. Men in their twenties, moreover, have older friends who have been HIV+ for years without visible penalty.

 

Second, I suppose that most of the men who are frightened and sickened by this form of protracted random suicide – a combination of Jonestown and Community Russian Roulette – are men over forty, perhaps well over forty, for whom risky sex is tantamount to downing a cyanide cocktail or jumping out of a plane without a parachute. For many of these men, the most immediately accessible explanations are internalized homophobia, callous indifference, or sheer stupidity.

 

But I have an alternative hypothesis. I wonder if the danger of HIV-infection itself might not be the "hot" button for a lot of these younger men, wrestling with the Angel of Death as they cum. I further wonder if the differences expressed on the thread don't reflect a generational difference in viewpoints.

 

Anecdotes frequently related on this site point again and again to the fact that, for many men, danger is hot. We read here of sexual fantasies having to do with all kinds of power exchanges between and among men. We know of and participate in acts of burlesqued hyper-masculinity such as fisting, bondage, humiliation, leather, and the like. We read here of the thrills of sex in public places, of sex with anonymous men on the street, of men's lust for men who live, or pretend to live, in the teeth of death: cops, soldiers, heavy-construction workers.

 

This close association of sexual arousal and physical danger is true of most men, I think, whether straight or gay. But because two gay men double the testosterone level of any sexual encounter, power and its dangers in many forms are essential ingredients in many of our ways of hooking up. Furthermore, I think that evolution has hard-wired guys to seek this melding of sex and mortal danger, the marriage of Eros and Thanatos. After all, why do young men rush into pitched combat, hunt deadly animals, leap from trees, wrestle with alligators, or even play brutal sports like boxing and football? Because they enjoy it, that's why. And many of them enjoy it in an erotic way: they "get off on" danger. Might it be the same with HIV? Might this not be another manifestation of the age-old assumption that the young are immune to death, coupled with the undeniable turn-on of sex on the razor's edge?

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Guest bluboy

Yes. This is absolutely TRUE. I am HIV negative BUT it has been an act of strong will not to give in to my desire to have a poz fuck me without a condom. I literally have had to jack myself off fast to be finished before I yield to the dark side of the danger when I have been confronted with it. While it is politically incorrect to say or feel this, I have always had the inkling that there is something different about gay sexuality..something darker...not that we are just men loving men and we want the picket fence with our lovers just like the breeders. There is a dangerously perverse line of attraction that runs through the community that is more "normal" than runs through the hetero community..b/c it is so easy to find. To find perverse sex in heterokand you have to look hard and there is some shame and apprehension. I have found that with gay men, you can pretty much find whatever you want pretty freely in any random bar in any random city. I think we want to believe we are just like heteros except we like men. As I have gotten older and have straddled both worlds intimately, I am increasingly convinced that we are in fact very different. Seriopostive parties are part of that abhorrent strain. blu

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Thank you, Blu, for taking what seems to me a courageous stance. If it is indeed "politically incorrect" to own up to the fact that there is an important aspect of men's sexuality that is not connected with love-bonding and child-rearing, I can only say that political correctness in this case is a form of denial that can lead to despair and even death. As I said in my post, I think that men are probably born this way. After all, human beings are born with all kinds of impulses and instincts that they need to learn how to use for constructive rather than destructive purposes. I don't think it's "wrong" to have these desires. I do think that we need to be frank about their existence, however, and unashamed to acknowledge them. I am sincerely grateful for the dignity, courage and maturity that I perceive in what you wrote, and I hope that your words will have a life-affirming result for others. Perhaps to throw some light into that darkness of which you speak, I might say that we are very, very good at games, fantasies, and all sorts of harmless but hot ways to sublimate the impulse to do harm to ourselves and others. Once again, thank you.

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Guest Merlin

For many guys, and perhaps a majority of gays, there is a sexual thrill in submitting to another. S/M is the extreme form and the best illustration, but I suspect every bottom enjoys submitting. Submission would appear to be a primary sexual feeling among females, and inherent in that relationship. The male is naturally larger, stronger, and more aggressive and women seem to be attracted to larger, stronger and more aggressive guys. Gays who are turned on by being submissive can be seen as playing a female part. We probably won't understand that until we understand why some guys are gay.

Gays who intentionally submit to HIV infection by another may be getting a sexual turn-on similar to submitting to being tied up and tortured.

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Guest Joey Ciccone

>>I wonder if the danger of HIV-infection itself might not be the "hot" button for a lot of these younger men, wrestling with the Angel of Death as they cum. I further wonder if the differences expressed on the thread don't reflect a generational difference in viewpoints.<<

 

I think it does, but I don't think the gap is limited to the bedroom or even the gay world. It's a whole new, dangerous age we live in. The elevation of the thrill of crime committing/risk taking and the non-chalant attitude toward punishment/consequences has risen exponentially. For example, it was a big deal and a dangerous thing to bring a knife to class when I was in high school. Now knives are for chumps and guns are the weapon of macho teen choice, with the threat having gone from "I'll cut you," to "I'll kill you." And they ARE killing each other in high shool these days, and on the surrounding streets in record numbers.

 

The same kind of shift in thrill-seeking/disregard for consequence is also evident in the sporting world, where nothing less than bungie jumping or snowboarding down sheer, rock-raced cliffs will serve as fun for some. And I've actually seen guys jump out of planes with no parachute, hoping to catch up to the guy who IS wearing a parachute on the way down. They do this for fun. Shows like MTV's Jackass can give unwatchable glimpses into the mindset (or is it mindlessness) of the latter day male. Guys will jump off the roof of a house with nothing to break their fall but a folding card table set up in the backyard, videotape the resulting broken tailbone, and send it in to the show hoping to become the next Johhny Knoxville. We've gone from EXTREME! to extremely stupid in a few short years. Also look at Ultimate Fighting competitions. It's become a no holds barred kind of world.

Even family entertainment is getting in on the act. Amusement parks are all in competition to build the scariest, highest, steepest dropping rollercoasters known to man. Faster than ever without seatbelts. I saw a ride in Atlantic City recently that took the rider straight up a couple hundred feet in a flimsy chair, then just dropped them. Not a "ride" at all, simply a deathfall which induced some chemical in the brain to flood as you frantically hope the ride is going to slow your descent. A literal flirt with hereafter. I saw a news piece that claims the death toll at amusement parks was down last year. I forget the actual numbers, but the body count was only down from the year before's, which was at an all time high (in the US). Amusement and death should not even be in the same sentence, yet the people still flock to the killer rides.

 

Regarding sexuality in general, recently a very popular rock singer (Micheal Hutchins?), a knockout hetero guy at the top of his game was found dead, apparently having accidentally strangled himself during some masturbation ritual. This stud could have had (and presumedly did) anybody, gay or straight, but instead chose to dance with death alone in his hotel room. I guess for a guy who's seen it all, that was the next logical thrill for him. But to many, gay or straight, this fellow was a role model. What are his idolizers left to think? Certainly some will heed the warning, but others, I'm sure, will find the fact that Hutchins even went to such a dangerous sexual place to be an irresistable temptation, and will follow suit. That aping may manifest itself as partaking in a seroconversion rite, or some other foolhardy act. There are plenty of places to choke on an eros-thanos sandwich these days (or tangle with that "angel of death.")

 

>>Anecdotes frequently related on this site point again and again to the fact that, for many men, danger is hot.... Furthermore, I think that evolution has hard-wired guys to seek this melding of sex and mortal danger, the marriage of Eros and Thanatos. Might this not be another manifestation of the age-old assumption that the young are immune to death, coupled with the undeniable turn-on of sex on the razor's edge?<<

 

I think so, and in our current age and social demographic, I believe AIDS is the ultimate risk when it comes to sexual thrills. What's most apalling to me about it all, is that people don't seem to be oblivious to the ramifications. Rather, they are indifferent toward them. Which tells me that folks are willing to view death as a state equally welcome to life. A tragic viewpoint, highlighting the zombifying (and incestuous) nature of the eros thanatos school of wedlock.

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Guest jizzdepapi

Although I wouldn't classify them as exactly Neanderthal, I do think there are some notions about the opposite gender on this thread that are fairly retrograde.

 

Certainly, there are notions of sex and danger that are unique to the experience of gay men. I think it's fair to say that the notion of being "outlaws" has always informed our sensibilities and desires. Even in the days of Alexander the Great when there were socially-approved longstanding and expected same-sex relations between men, these relations were not commonly spoken of. Certainly notions about our diffent desires in an overwhelmingly heterosexual society have informed our valuation of concepts like monogamy and appropriateness of sexual behavior.

 

But the idea of sex and danger and even sex and control are common to breeders and GLBTs alike. An old, but at the time very popular, music video springs to mind: Pat Benatar singing "Stop Using Love as a Weapon." The video was produced in a meat freezer in which carcasses of attractive young men hung from meat hooks. It was an atmospherice, stunning production, positing the existence of predatory females. The scene appeared sexy, though forbidden.

 

Two other pop icons spring to mind: Madonna and whoever-that-fabulous-lead-singer-with-the-Eurythmics-was (sorry, don't remember her name).

 

Madonna's entire career has explored gender bending and role reversal, at least on a performance level. I'm not a Madonna fan so can't say much about her notions of danger but she certainly sets a stage for women taking control of men sexually as agressors.

 

The Eurythmics, in the late 1980s, produced a very popular (maybe someone could share the title if they recall--"I Need a Man" maybe?) video in which the lead singer expresses strong sexual need for a man in very visceral terms and treats the whole concept of "man" as just an object to satisfy her lust--certainly a strong statement of role reversal and, again, on the part of a very agressive female.

 

An excellent movie, "The Last Seduction," starring Linda Fiorentino, portrays similar notions. A very tightly drawn plot reveals a woman who truly is a predator of males both sexually and socially. I won't say more because I don't want to give away the plot for anyone who has yet to see this film. I would say that the film presents a woman who feels free to use a man to meet her diabolical ends, along the way using him as a sexual plaything.

 

I would highly recomnmend a trip to the Vault on a weekend night to anyone living in or visiting the NYC area. The Vault is a sexual club in the Village for heteros and GLBTs. There is a large interest in S&M activities at the Vault and participants from all ranges of sexuality. My own dabbling in S&M, though decidedly lightweight, has made me question traditional sexual roles and ways of lovemaking. It's also made me think that we're talking about something beyond the range of traditional gender or sexual orientation roles. To me, it's been very refreshing to explore these roles and try to assimilate that experience into my own life and worldview.

 

Best,

JIzz

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Inasmuch as I raised the issue of gender on this particular thread, perhaps I might be liable to the accusation of having retrograde, if not exactly Neanderthal, ideas about the opposite sex. I don't really care about my political-correctness quotient, frankly, but I do care about misleading a reader. Therefore, please allow me to clarify a few points.

 

First, you'll notice that I was quite specific in claiming that my understanding of certain aspects of male sexuality included all human males, whatever their sexual orientation. I was talking about men in general, not gay or bisexual men. I was also talking about men in a global and historical sense, not about middle-class American urban males in the twenty-first century.

 

Second, I would never overlook the role that dominance/submission -- in other words, power -- plays in the courtship dances of heterosexual men and women. For breeding purposes, women, far more than men, seek sexual partners whom they regard as powerful, dominant, potent.

 

Third, at the moment, I'm persuaded that evolution, not culture, has conditioned men to seek sexual arousal outside the arena of breeding, that is, the arena in which their (largely unconscious) desire to see their sperm impregnate the most desirable females is active.

 

Fourth, and perhaps to repeat myself, I would maintain that men who experience their sexuality primarily as potential fathers, i.e., seeking a breeding partner, would, if they could, seek all kinds of sexual satisfaction that have nothing whatsoever to do with the famous "selfish gene."

 

Fifth, anthropological anecdotes drawn from observing an erotically over-stimulated group of sophisticated and sexually independent New Yorkers are not the kind of data I base my claims on. It's interesting, and it's certainly relevant to the socialization of sex in a particular place, time, and socio-economic group. But I was, and am, interested in broad patterns of behavior that seem to crop up no matter what the time or place or social group.

 

These are more of the suppositions on which I based the idea in my initial post. I'm bewildered why one might find it either retrograde or worthy of extinction alongside our Neanderthal cousins, who were apparently too peaceful to survive the aggression and possessiveness of Homo sapiens.

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Guest jizzdepapi

Hi Will,

 

>... liable to the accusation of having retrograde... ideas about the opposite sex. I don't really care about my political-correctness...

 

Actually, Will, my Neanderthal/retrograde comment did not refer to anything you said. I refer to this ridiculous statment by Merlin, which went unchallenged.

 

>... Submission would appear to be a primary sexual feeling among females, and inherent in that relationship. The male is naturally larger, stronger, and more aggressive and women seem to be attracted to larger, stronger and more aggressive guys. Gays who are turned on by being submissive can be seen as playing a female part...

 

I also have no use for political correctness, which attempts to muzzle free expresson of thought by those on the left and right.

 

Good Lord, how long did it take many psychiatrists to figure out that gay men are not women trapped in male bodies? And the women I know are not attracted to men because they are "larger, stronger and more aggressive guys."

 

 

>...I was talking about men in general, not gay or bisexual men...

 

Point well taken. I see on re-reading thread that specific points about gay men engaging in sexual activities are offered with comments about men in general.

 

 

>... I would never overlook the role that dominance/submission -- in other words, power -- plays in the courtship dances of heterosexual men and women...

 

Your point does not seem to have been picked up on by other posters, though maybe they regarded it as implicit. I posted because I thought there was too much regard for the uniqueness of the gay experience of danger and sex, rather than the universal experience of danger and sex.

 

 

>...For breeding purposes, women, far more than men, seek sexual partners whom they regard as powerful, dominant, potent...

 

I would agree about potent only. Potent is necessary; the other traits may or may not be present. Speaking on relationships, if I had to generalize I would think that women are much more powerful than men; whether or not they appear to be dominant, I think women remain largely in control, both in the family and the community.

 

 

>...Third, at the moment, I'm persuaded that evolution, not culture, has conditioned men to seek sexual arousal outside the arena of breeding...

 

I have no inkling on this, one way or the other.

 

 

>...Fourth, and perhaps to repeat myself, I would maintain that men who experience their sexuality primarily as potential fathers, i.e., seeking a breeding partner, would, if they could, seek all kinds of sexual satisfaction that have nothing whatsoever to do with the famous "selfish gene."...

 

Again, I don't disagree.

 

 

>Fifth, anthropological anecdotes drawn from observing an erotically over-stimulated group of sophisticated and sexually independent New Yorkers are not the kind of data I base my claims on. It's interesting, and it's certainly relevant to the socialization of sex in a particular place, time, and socio-economic group...

 

I posted my suggestion for people to go to the Vault because it can be a fun experience and certainly illustrates some of the points of this thread. If it's not fun or educational, then there is clearly no good reason to go. Also, a small point: The participants at the Vault will cross socioeconomic boundaries, though sophisticated and sexually independent would (hopefully) apply.

 

 

I'm sorry if you took umbrage with my post. I mostly thought that Merlin's statement should not go unchallenged. Actually, I thought this thread was an interesting addendum to the seropositive party thread.

 

Best,

Jizz

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Guest FirstPlace

>Regarding sexuality in general, recently a

>very popular rock singer (Micheal

>Hutchins?), a knockout hetero guy

>at the top of his

>game was found dead, apparently

>having accidentally strangled himself during

>some masturbation ritual. This stud

>could have had (and presumedly

>did) anybody, gay or straight,

>but instead chose to dance

>with death alone in his

>hotel room. I guess for

>a guy who's seen it

>all, that was the next

>logical thrill for him

HUH? Michael's death was hardly recent. Also, there has been absolutely no proof that he died in "some masturbation ritual." The man had apparently hung himself in his hotel room. Because he was nude doesn't automatically mean that every Internet rumor about him jacking off is true. Also, there is quite a bit of evidence in the public domain that suggests that he had been very distrub regarding his girlfriend and her ex-husband's situation. There are documented calls just prior to his death of massive arguments that also related to his own daughter. He had done a fair amount of drugs and drank heavily that evening. His suicide was probably an attempt to get some attention, not actually kill himself, and not to receive some thrill jacking off. Just trying to bring a bit of sanity and reality back to this thread.

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Thanks, Jizz, for your cogent and level-headed reply. I wasn't sure whether you meant me or not; in any case, almost every time I air views of human behavior that come from the new field of evolutionary psychology, somebody jumps on me. So I suppose I flinch easily. Thanks for your courtesy.

 

We may reasonably disagree, but I still maintain that the primary -- and I do mean that quite literally -- biologically-driven instinct of females is to seek a mate who will not only pass on his genes of vigor, power, and intelligence, but who will also be strong and aggressive enough to protect her and her children. If this sounds like ape-watching, well, that's OK. At the level of big, "natural" patterns of behavior, we are not far from the apes at all. In fact, human beings and Bonobo chimpanzees have something like 99% of their genetic information in common.

 

Most important to me regarding seroconversion and barebacking was the point that men may feel an erotic pull towards life-endangering behavior that is as strong as the pull they feel towards sexually attractive partners. I suppose I might even go so far as to say that perhaps -- perhaps -- it is the danger of infection per se that is the actual sexual stimulus here, not playing at it. Unless I am wrong, for the most part S&M is sublimated behavior in that it signifies more than it actually effects (unless we're talking about snuff). To my understanding, intentionally risky sex itself could be less flavorful than vanilla; but if the threat of HIV infection were there, for some men it would be as hot as Mount Etna.

 

All of this, let me hasten to say, was an attempt to broaden our understanding of why people behave the way they do, in order to find ways to save some gay men from themselves. What people do for fun is their business; but I really don't think that deliberately seeking to infect oneself with a lingering illness that is 100% incurable and extremely costly to treat is private business. But that's another issue anyhow!

 

So is the issue of whether or not there is a particular set of psychological imperatives operating in men's psyches when they are engaging in gay sex. (Notice that I do not say "gay men" but "gay sex.") I guess I don't think it's possible to disregard the gender of a sexual partner, and for that reason alone I would still maintain that men are different sexual creatures when they're having sex with other men and not with women -- singly or in groups. But maybe that's something else we can agree to disagree about.

 

Thanks so much for writing, and warmest best wishes,

Will

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Guest Joey Ciccone

>HUH? Michael's death was hardly recent.

>Also, there has been absolutely

>no proof that he died

>in "some masturbation ritual."

 

Tha article I had read was about sex and danger and only mentioned in passing Hutchence indulgence is such activities on previous occassions. I think it was in Details magazine (maybe Esquire). I never finished the article because I found it depressing. And you're absolutely right, 1997 is hardly recent. It's a lifetime ago.

 

>Because

>he was nude doesn't automatically

>mean that every Internet rumor

>about him jacking off is

>true.

 

I read newspapers for news and I don't assume everything there is true either. I peruse things like Details for their wealth of inconsequential trivia. I don't belong to the Michael Hutchence fanclub and haven't checked the body of evidence in the public domain relating to his death. Unarmed with all the facts, I'm sorry I raised his nude unejaculated spectre.

 

>Just trying to

>bring a bit of sanity

>and reality back to this

>thread.

 

Sorry if you were a fan, but to imply that this entire thread is insane and unreal over the possible aspersions cast on a dead popstar seems a bit intolerant to me.

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Guest FirstPlace

>>Just trying to

>>bring a bit of sanity

>>and reality back to this

>>thread.

>

>Sorry if you were a fan,

>but to imply that this

>entire thread is insane and

>unreal over the possible aspersions

>cast on a dead popstar

>seems a bit intolerant to

>me.

 

 

Actually my use of the word thread was in error and as I'm sure you know the edit feature is gone. That said this is not a thread I agree with fully in any respect. My remarks were only meant to bring a bit of reality back to *your* post :) Actually I found myself in agreement with several of your statements about escalated "risk and thrills" in general.

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Guest Tampa Yankee

”We may reasonably disagree, but I still maintain that the primary -- and I do mean that quite literally -- biologically-driven instinct of females is to seek a mate who will not only pass on his genes of vigor, power, and intelligence, but who will also be strong and aggressive enough to protect her and her children. If this sounds like ape-watching, well, that's OK. At the level of big, "natural" patterns of behavior, we are not far from the apes at all. In fact, human beings and Bonobo chimpanzees have something like 99% of their genetic information in common.”

 

Will, I’m in strong agreement here. What was true historically remains true today IMHO, but the paradigm has changed some with the times. The ideal mate is no longer the strongest nor the most physically agressive male, rather the smart shrewed knowlegeable male who can work the system and make it pay for him -- power, knowldedge,the sense of timing when to act, be it buy or sell. THe guy who leads the pack, senses the trend before it is a trend, and moves on the next new trend in the wings as the last takes hold among the many -- those few dot.com guys who got out (or broadly diversified) at the top would be a good example.

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TY, I've been out of town and just caught up with your post. You and I are in total agreement. The string of adjectives I used regarding the "ideal male" was meant to be generic and as culturally unspecific as possible. For example, in the thirteenth century, and according to her social rank, a woman might seek the man who was literally the strongest physically. But in the twenty-first century, the man who is physically strong offers his wife no meaningful economic or social advantage. What matters now, as you put it, is his strength in dot-com economic terms.

 

To me, however, feudal strength and internet strength come to the same thing: "power" is socially and culturally conditioned. Not every part of the U.S. population sees dot-com prowess as the ne plus ultra of masculine power; for some groups it might be the toughest drug lord, for others the fastest drag-strip racer. But once the expressions of power have been settled on in a particular social group, most heterosexual women will (unconsciously) seek a powerful mate -- powerful, that is, according to the discourses of dominance in that group. What she will want is a mate who will win her (and her offspring) the most protection from predatory men AND the most prestige among her female peers. Most women: not all, of course.

 

However, the same is not true, I think, of men, whether straight or gay. A man does not generally seek out sexual partners who will protect him from the advances of others in the erotic group to which he is attracted. Like women, of course, some men will seek sexual partners who will protect them in the social sense; but in my experience those men generally seek other men as sexual partners, not women. And people for whom "protecting" (read: dominating) another is highly erotic are usually men. Note, too, that I am not talking here about casual sexual play. I am talking about the kinds of erotic negotiations that are intended to result in long-term unions, or in versions of them.

 

Men as well as women seek partners who will win them erotic prestige among their peers. But that's another story!

 

To men in general, I think, it matters just how power is articulated, how it is symbolized and expresed. Men especially enjoy knowing that the trappings of power can be put on or taken off, like the "costume" they really are.

 

In the immortal words of RuPaul, "After diapers, everything is drag." I think that goes for all sorts of appearances, not just what we wear. That goes for body-carriage, ways of walking and gesturing, facial expression, tone of voice, and so on and on and on.

 

Finally, I would also say that drag in that sense of the word is, for men, almost entirely about sexual power, and nothing else.

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Guest Tampa Yankee

Will.

 

I too have been out of town and just caught up with your response.

 

I take your point about broadening the cultural context of the ‘ideal male’ and agree wholeheartedly -- the key is ‘power’ in the context of the culture or subculture. I very much subscribe to the remainder of your views put forth above including the dichotomy between men and women in seeking a (long term) sexual partner. Thanks for the RuPaul quote and your elaboration on it which seems to hit the mark IMO.

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