Can Gay Porn Undo Body Dysmorphia?

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Gay porn is usually seen as causing body dysmorphia in gay men. But could recent moves towards more diversity in porn actually lead to a decrease in dysmorphia?

Good Porn/Bad Porn is a semi-regular series looking at porn from different angles. It aims to challenge assumptions, question beliefs and expand the conversation about gay porn. Got a topic you’d like to see covered? Let us know in the comments!

 

Gay porn is often blamed for the increasing rates of body dysmorphia within the gay community. While some relationship does exist between the amount of porn we watch, and how we feel about ourselves and our appearance, we shouldn’t get too ahead of ourselves either. To be clear: there hasn’t been a large scale, scientific study measuring the effects (both positive and negative) of watching gay porn on men’s perceptions of themselves and their bodies. The most often cited study was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2017.

The study looked at the porn habits of 1,071 gay and bisexual men. It found that we watch more porn than straight guys (no surprise there), usually about 3 hours per week. It also found that the more porn we watch, the more negatively we view our bodies.

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The issue with that finding is about causality. In other words – do men who watch more porn have lower body self-esteem because of the porn they’re watching – or do they have lower body self-esteem already, irrespective of the amount of gay porn they consume? It’s a classic chicken or the egg scenario, with no real clear answers at this stage. But let’s for a moment, assume that gay porn does play a role in shaping men’s perceptions of their bodies. If that’s the case, surely a move towards more diverse casting should see a subsequent improvement in the way men view themselves? And that’s what they gay porn world is starting to see right now. With the dominance of gay porn studios starting to fade, and the continuing rise of digital technology, the gay porn landscape is becoming more diversified. While it would be great to think that there’s some altruistic reason for this, it probably just comes down to user demand.

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Basically anything that you can type into Google, from ‘heavy guys with small cocks’ to ‘hairy bears eating cum’ will lead you to a website, Tumblr page or app suited to  your sexual desire. People’s needs and desires are in some ways, becoming more nichified. Gay porn, as an industry, needs to adapt to this or die.

Personally, I think more diversity in gay porn is a good thing regardless. People are clearly wanting to see more than just the stereotypical gay porn star of yesterday look (meaning: white, muscle jock basically). Whether it’s a bit more body hair, a bit more body weight, or a wider range of skin colours, gay men come in all shapes and sizes. Gay porn is starting to realise that, and cater to it; Leading the charge towards increased diversity are the porn stars . 

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Gay guys are notorious early adopters. These days, getting into the porn industry means you just need a webcam or a smartphone with a good camera, a social media platform and the desire to share what you’ve got with the world. This ‘take it into your own hands’ approach, is disempowering the studios who used to be the gatekeepers of porn castings. By bypassing them entirely, a whole new generation of guys, representing a wide variety of ages, body types and sexual preferences are reaching a global audience in real-time. And look, it’s not as if demand for traditionally good looking guys is going to go away anytime soon. The reasons we admire, worship and jerk off over muscle gods, jocks, dudes in their 20s will always remain. It’s just nice to see a bit more diversity thrown into the mix as well.

Lastly, it’s also important not to single out gay porn for its perceived negative impacts on the gay community. We don’t experience porn in isolation. Look at the cover of any gay magazine, or any of the advertising or marketing geared towards our community. What do you see? Typically, it’s a white, muscled, young guy. So, it’s not just a gay porn issue. It’s important to take a wider view, taking into account all the different digital, media, apps and online spaces we find ourselves in. Are we seeing diversity across the board? In most cases, not really.

Gay porn might in fact, be leading the way when it comes to diversity. But it still has a long way to go.

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Does gay porn play a role in body dysmorphia? Would you like to see more diversity in porn? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

For more from this writer, please visit the Little Gay Blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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