The Ken Doll Clone Cult

28 03 2011

Are these the same person? Can you tell? I sure can’t. I think they might like the fact that they came from the same factory in Fort Lauderdale. You don’t see it much in Seattle or Brooklyn.

I remember, a long time ago when I was about ten years old, an elder male relative telling me he would never shave his chest because that was what “homosexuals” did. And, of course, you wouldn’t want to do anything a homosexual does. Like eat, or drink, or breathe.

Homophobia aside, I thought he had a good point. Gay men are obsessed with manscaping. They want to look like Ken Dolls. Yes, there are subcultures like bears, but, of course that is just one of many subcultures. (And I could go on about bears for other reasons.) The prevailing physical ideal in the gay male community seems to be a white, blond, blue-eyed, hairless, muscular man with 5% body fat. Audre Lord must be turning in her grave.

I don’t really understand this. If you are a gay male, it means you are attracted to male bodies, right? And men tend to be hairier than women. (I am not a champion of traditional sex differentiation, but I will concede this.) A lot of men are also black, east Asian, South Asian, Native American, mixed race, or perhaps something else entirely. So, the prototypical man is not a blue-eyed Tyrolean yodeller. Granted, Asian men are less hairy than other men, but that’s just because some races are less hairy than others. Asian men are still hairier than Asian women. Besides, Asian men are fetishized for their boyishness, as if that is the masculine ideal. Follicles aside, the point is that in the gay community, men often have to bleach and wax their skin, and don blue contact lenses, in order to be desirable to a significant portion of the population.

I wager that this is largely a psychological effect created by the media. It is not necessarily an inherent desire motivated by genes or evolution or whatever. The media are everywhere. Images are everywhere. We cannot escape them unless we go hiking in the woods. Then we listen to the song of the sparrow and the rush of the stream, and breathe a sigh of relief. And even then we have our fucking iPhones with us. I once read somewhere that homosexual physical ideals are based largely on trends in pornography. (Don’t quote me on this, because I can’t remember the source, so you’ll have to take my word for it.) Supposedly, in the ’90s, the hairless twink was the ideal, but in the 2000s, it was the rougher, seedier sort. I think one film company superseded the other. And yet, again, it seems, the blond, white, hairless twink prevails. We still see it everywhere. Perhaps they’re reviving the ’90s or something. Either way, there has always been a strong twink presence. (The term twink comes from Twinkie, because a young, white, blond, thin, blue-eyed boy was full of cream, just like the famous pastry. I know.)

Perhaps the most offensive thing about the whole Ken Doll clone cult is the thug aspect. These films almost seem to glorify black criminality. They almost always depict the black man penetrating the white man as if the black man is raping the white man, reminding one of slave-day stereotypes. Or, they depict a black gangster penetrating some submissive white suburban jock. I like to think of myself as sex-positive. If a person really, truly enjoys what they are doing, and they are not being coerced, I cannot in my right mind object to it, but I sometimes wonder if the black models in these films are hired to perform based on a degrading stereotype. Ultimately it is their choice, and maybe they enjoy it, but it is something to take into serious consideration.

This is why I have a little bit of a problem with pornography. People like Bill Maher constantly defend it, but I think a lot of it tends to exploit the vulnerable. Again, ultimately it is the choice of the model to perform, but we should be aware of the way in which they are treated, and whether or not they have options equal to the other group (e.g. black vs. white or female vs. male). “But female pornography models earn more than male pornography models”, you will say. But what is the real cost? You are placing money above dignity. Perhaps dignity is worth more than money, in which case the female model is losing out, submitting to humiliation in order to earn money. And, besides, she isn’t the kingpin. Somebody else is making money off of her. (Granted, sometimes, a woman just has good, hot sex with a man and earns money for it, and that’s no biggie.) At any rate, it should ultimately be the model’s choice.

I didn’t mean to digress. My main point is that the gay male community is replete with racist stereotypes. It is. You rarely see coloured people in gay pornography, or, if you do, it is categorized as “Asian”, “black”, “mixed”, “Latino”, or whatever. (“Latino” isn’t a race; it’s an ethnicity, like “Jewish”.) And within these categories, blacks are constantly penetrating whites, whilst east Asians are constantly being penetrated by whites. The Ken Doll is the the racist medium that can go either way. It can be penetrated, and it can penetrate. Depending on the race. It is the smooth yet white and muscular doll that serves as the dull and flavourless prototype.

What do you think? Don’t give me your self-screened, politically correct opinion. I want to know what you really think. Is gay culture permeated with a white man-doll prototype?

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2 responses

27 06 2011
Aaron M

Right on! As someone who is hairy and not heavy like a bear and dark hair I am grateful to see you write this. I hadn’t given much thought to racism in porn but can see it with you pointing to it. I am part Native American but often pass for white or Jewish depending on who is looking. Another area our community is bad about is aegism and when there is a bit of silver in someones hair they are discarded like yesterdays compost.

30 06 2011
Brandon Arkell

Thanks! I appreciate the feedback. And you’re absolutely right–ageism is truly rampant within the gay community. Youth is prized like a golden calf. The funny thing is that older men can be so mature, wise, and distinguished, and in that way they are actually quite sexy. Alas, we do not have the wisdom to perceive this truth until we are grey and wizen ourselves.

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