There’s this long thread on Tumblr about how men are starved for sexual attention in casual settings. I realize the thread is hard to follow so I’ll summarize.
The argument goes that straight men have very little opportunity to be sexual objects rather than sexual subjects. Most male fashion isn’t geared towards it. There’s some speculation that men send out dick pics because they want any sort of sexual attention even if it’s negative. There’s mention of a journalist who sent out vagina pics on Bumble, and was surprised by the positive reactions from almost all the men. Men have trouble empathizing with women complaining about catcalling, because most men have literally never received a compliment from a stranger, and frankly it sounds like a welcome experience.
By the way, I personally do not want to receive sexual attention in casual settings. I also dislike compliments. So please don’t take this as a request.
Although the discussion is about straight men, I think it’s also key to understanding (western) gay male culture. Gay male culture reacts against these tendencies in straight culture. Many gay male spaces aren’t just places where men can be attracted to men, they are also places where men can draw attention to their own attractiveness.
A lot of the image of gay male culture is basically those topless guys that dance on top of pride parade floats. Have you ever thought why that is? Obviously straight men can dance topless in the streets too. But straight men have a culture where sexually objectifying men is weird, and gay men have a culture where it’s not.
Of course there are problems with this gay counterculture of objectifying men. Body image disorders and eating disorders are fairly common. I’m always hammering on about high rates of sexual violence. And while being a sexual object may be empowering for some gay men, it isn’t for everyone. Gay male culture looms large for queer people of all sorts, and it just isn’t tailored to serving the needs of, say, lesbians, trans women, or aces. A lot of gay men of color or with disabilities might feel poorly served as well.
In the sexual object/subject distinction, we often think of the subject as having power over the object. But it appears that some people like to be sexual objects, and will fill that role if they have the power to do so. It is interesting that in straight culture, despite men having so much power, they seem to have deprived themselves of the power to be sexual objects. Feel free to speculate why that is.