Boys and Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity by Peggy Orenstein

4. Get Used to It: Gay, Trans, and Queer Guys

  • Approval of same-sex marriage has gone from 31% in 2004 to 61% in 2019. Gay men average 10% more income and the average age of coming out has dropped from 25 to 16. In general, there is more support from friends, family, and community members, but LGBTQ teens remain exponentially more vulnerable to mental health issues, drug abuse, bullying, dating violence, and sexual assault. STDs disproportionately impact this group. While porn offers a consistent representation of gay sex, there is less research devoted to its impact on gay guys.
  • Hook up apps like Tinder and Grindr (for gays) are often used to find partners as it is difficult to sort gay or trans males out of your peer group. This probably explains the increased frequency of assault. Trans males feel safer as they are much less likely to be raped or to be the target of catcalls. Gays are more willing and able to negotiate consent than their straight counterparts. Unlike girls, gay boys are not likely to put up with one-way oral sex. This chapter contains cases studies of a gay boy and a transgender boy.

5. Heads You Lose, Tails I Win: Boys of Color in a White World

  • Young men of color often carry the fear of losing opportunities, or even their lives, for walking, talking, shopping, reaching for ID, or simply existing while black. They may feel unsafe among white classmates as well. They may fear being stopped, questioned, or even arrested depending on their experiences and the experiences people they know. They usually lack the family resources available to their white classmates and don’t usually get that added support they need from the school. Only 40% get four-year degrees in six years. After graduation, they make less on average than whites with similar backgrounds and education.
  • They may feel like they are constantly being watched, yet also feel invisible. They can feel like they are being judged as a representative of their racial group rather than as individuals. The same is true for gay and trans boys. They find it easier to integrate into white schools than black girls as they are seen as cool, but dumb by their white peers. Some blacks employ a “watch person” at parties who like a designated driver can keep them out of trouble. The stereotype is that they have a big penis and are good in bed. The opposite is true for the Asian male stereotype. Black boys are less likely to binge drink and more likely to endorse gender equity than whites. They have more opportunities for sex as there are fewer black boys than black girls on campus, and many white girls have sex with a black guy on their bucket list. As a result, they marry nonblacks twice as often as black girls. Asian men are much less likely to marry non-Asians than Asian girls.

6. I know I’m a Good Guy, but…

  • While there are laws that say sexual partners must obtain “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement at each stage of an intimate encounter,” one study shows that it happens about 13% of the time. Men generally understand this standard and consider it to be fair. They just don’t seem to follow it. Girls often send signals even when they don’t know it. A smile or even holding a drink can be seen as a come on to a boy. Even the worst rapists are often in denial when it comes to their assaults. The truth is in Peggy’s opinion that even good guys can do bad things.
  • The narcissism of male desire is instilled early, reinforced by media, parents, and parental silence; and by girls who have themselves been trained at an early age to take men’s needs and desires more seriously than their own. Classic teenage fumbling is how boys learn “the rules,” but this learning curve comes at girls’ expense. In 2011, the Obama administration issued a letter telling colleges that they were responsible for dealing with sexual misconduct on campus. At the time three-quarters of schools were reporting a zero assault rate. One survey had this number at 23% for all girls in college.
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