July 29, 2005
Volume 33
Issue 30

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Sex Talk by Simon Shepard
Speaking of Objectification
We all want to be loved for who we are.

But when others look at us, they see what they see. And sometimes what they see - or think they do - is Twink, Leather Dad, Black Guy, Chub, or Hottie. That sort of much-criticized superficiality is called "objectification," and it's - supposedly - overly common among queer men.

Often, objectification is linked to racial stereotyping - and not just by white guys. A young Asian is a "submissive boy," an African-American is objectified as a horse-hung horny homie. Age is often a factor, too: Older men are Daddy Tops, while younger guys are mindlessly submissive twinks. At its best, objectification provides a sort of sexual shorthand. At its worst, it's thoroughly dehumanizing.

Not even the great-looking are immune. One young fellow with a perfect male-model face complains, "I'm tired of people reacting to me solely on the basis of my looks." Poor baby.

But is sexual objectification always so bad?

"We may say we don't want to be viewed as sex objects," says one observer of the queer scene, "but then many of us go to great lengths to become a 'type.' Because, let's face it, in a cruising situation, first impressions - especially visual ones - make all the difference. Who walks into a bar and thinks, I bet that guy over there has a beautiful mind?"

Certainly, there are times when a bit of objectification can be good for the soul. Says one heavyset man in his 30s, "I already know I have a winning personality. But not everyone is into guys as big as I am, so when I catch a chub-chaser looking at me with lust in his eyes, I don't really care if he's thinking about my conversational skills. After all, I know I'm more than just a waistline. He can discover that after we get it on."

On the other hand, men do have minds and souls, and approaching guys as nothing more than pieces of fuckable meat - as much fun as that can be on occasion - is ultimately impoverishing. Someone who is focused on circuit parties and facial peels is unlikely to lead a fulfilled life. But how many men are like that, really?

"I think Gay guys get a bad rap for being sexual objectifiers," says the queer-scene observer. "After all, look at the images of straight women that are out there. It may simply be a guy thing that when our dicks are hard, we too often don't look past the surface. But there are plenty of male/male couples who approach one another as fully rounded individuals. It just requires a bit of sensitivity and paying attention."

We all live in societies burdened by "isms" - racism, ageism, and that ol' insidious looksism. And one man's meat is another man's "I don't think so." But sometimes you may want to feel like nothing more than a slice of desirable sirloin. Certainly, there are occasions - a night at a dance club, an hour at a video arcade - when fully rounded human beings are quite beside the point. One part-time slut explains, "When I go to a sex party, I want to suck dick. Sure, I'm open to getting to know the men there on a whole bunch of levels. But first let them pop in my mouth."

One problem with sexual objectification is that those not fitting into a preordained set of parameters may get ignored, to the impoverishment of all concerned. But let's face it: guys can be pigs. As with most things sexual, moderation is the watchword. Just remember that the sex object in your bed has needs and feelings.

And then fuck the hell out of him.

Simon Sheppard is the author of Sex Parties 101, Kinkorama, and In Deep: Erotic Stories, and can be reached at Visit Simon at
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