July 16, 2008

Fleshbot: where men are for ‘gays,’ lesbians are for ‘straights,’ and the viewer is MALE

Posted in double standards, heteronormative, phallocentrism, pornography, representation, sexual politics at 12:00 pm by LB

I was reading a post on Violet Blue’s blog (NSFW) and she mentioned that Fleshbot (Gawker’s Sex and Porn blog) was doing a series on requests for sexual material that the readers want to see. I thought “cool” and checked it out, only to disappointedly discover the series has only been of women bodies. Sure, they had redheads or small-breasted women, but considering how hard impossible it is to find decent quality free pics of het guys for het women, I would have expected some of that.

But, as I would soon find out, my expectations were based on faulty assumptions. Because curiously, the tabs at the top of the main page say “gay” and “straight.” Guess what images are in the “gay” section? Naked men. And to their credit, just glancing down the 1st few archived pages, it seems like most of them are either actually gay or at least do gay male porn. The images in the “straight” section? Glancing at the first few archived pages, all women. One het couple, that was clearly focusing on the woman’s dirty bits. And several female couples or groups.

Silly me. Why should I have expected that “reader requests” would include het men on a site where gay=male viewer and straight=male viewer, and where lesbian imagery is classified as straight, not gay, just like the malestream Adult Video Awards. If my math is right, when men are shown in the “gay” section and women are shown in the “straight” section, that means that the assumed Fleshbot viewer=male, even thought their tagline, “Since 2003: where sex, porn, and the web collide,” doesn’t specify: mostly for if you’re a dude or a chick who only likes mainstream porn made for dudes. I mean, kudos (I suppose) for having a site with both gay and straight porn; if only your definitions of gay and straight weren’t so, well, male-centered.

I’m so f-ing sick of the blatant ignorance and erasure of female desire (het or queer) when it doesn’t comply with the “liberated girls [sic] take off their clothes!” and “liberated het chicks [sic] think other chicks are hot!” bullshit. Not that those aren’t/can’t be true. But there’s much more to women’s sexuality than what appeals to het men’s sexuality. And I find the refusal to allow het guys for het women to mingle in the “straight” section with all the stuff made for men, lest the het men might get threatened, or even worse, turned on! Heaven forbid a guy might actually have to look at a sexualized man’s body, or find out he might actually admire another guy’s sexuality. Or have to deal with his female significant other looking at porn focused on or equally focused on guy parts and not just lady parts. Cuz I guess it’s hot when your het girlfriend recognizes a woman as sexy but gross! gay! if a het guy does. Oh the double standards! Oh the repressive legacy of a half-assed sexual revolution that masquerades as “liberated”!

How about this radical idea, Fleshbot? How about divide your categories by content, i.e. solo male, solo female, group male, group female, and not by subject position, then viewers of whatever gender or sexuality can decide what content suits their desires instead of you heteronormatively and sexistly (yeah, I made that word up) deciding it for them, K?

4 Comments »

  1. sally said,

    The thing that makes issues like this so interesting is that studies have found that more and more women use the internet to explore their sexuality, watch porn, etc. So, one would think that some of these websites would really get with the program and change their male-centric approach.

  2. lindabeth said,

    That’s a really good point. Women are usually looking for different kinds of imagery, and the internet is perfect for finding variety, whether it be porn or shoes! Yet googling porn for women find very limited resources, a select few are good (those are the pay sites), some are ok, but most are less for women and more for gay men, it seems. And the quantity of images on the decent sites is lacking, not necessarily by their own fault, mind you. Quantity in general is quite limited. But even if there were 10, 20, even 50 really good sites, that is peanuts compared to the resources for men. It’s disgusting really.

    And I just get really, really annoyed that the sex industry think that “desiring men” looks the same for gay men and hetero women, and that lesbians and hetero men also like the same kind of imagery. This is another post all of itself, but I think that stems from the lack of recognition that sexuality plays any part in desire–that desiring women or men is the “same” regardless of the gender of the desirer or their sexuality.

    But there’s a sexual politics involved that the sex industry doesn’t take into account. There’s gender hierarchy and power issues that they like to pretend think have nothing to do with the production of pornography. If the sex industry acknowleged this, they’d have to admit that they have been male-centric, and that male-centrism doesn’t typically produce a non-sexist industry and consumption of it, and they won’t do that. Because they bank on the assumption that representations are neutral, that you either like them or you don’t, that women just don’t like them, and that they have nothing to so with gender relations or perpetuating sexual hierarchy and denying the sexualization of men for women’s pleasure.

  3. […] that porn=videos of women doing things that make men feel good or that (het) men like to watch.  I have written before about how all to often porn sites, by their very language and categories, assume that porn […]

  4. K`shandra said,

    Three years later, and it’s heartbreaking how relevant this post still is.


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