Why do heterosexual men have same-sex sex?

Our ideas about sexual culture change with difficulty. The idea that homosexuality can be a kind of sexual orientation has been established in the mass consciousness (at least in many Western countries) only by the end of the 20th century. But as a result, the carriers of the "alternative" sexual culture began to be perceived as a single cohesive group with its own values, style of behavior and even a special structure of the organism. On the one hand, the idea that homosexuals and bisexuals are fundamentally different from heterosexuals saves unnecessary doubt. If I was born heterosexual, then I will not become another. On the other hand, what about those who, like the heroes of the book, Jane Ward, do not fit into this model?

"In the 1990s, the notion of men who had sex with men arose," says psychotherapist Ernst Light. - Relatively recently it was added to the symmetrical concept of WSW (women who have sex with women). Both of these concepts proved to be convenient from two points of view. First, as a tool in the work of epidemiologists, because they allowed them to correlate the spread of sexual infections with specific sexual practices, without touching on the topic of identity.Secondly, in psychology and sexology, there was an understanding that specific sexual practices can not be interpreted as having the same meaning, since they can be part of different social processes. "

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One of the examples of such "false-sexual" practices is written by Jane Ward. This homoerotic relationship between men in close-knit men's teams - army brotherhoods, sports teams, private schools. They can include oral and anal sex, mutual masturbation, kissing and other caresses. Often such actions are accompanied by rituals of accepting new members in closed clubs and communities, accepting the character of the game, but can also occur spontaneously, for example in the shower room after a football match. At the same time, most of Jane Ward's interlocutors say that they are generally interested in girls, but "sometimes happens." What is this - the result of the "debauchery" of the modern world? On the contrary, anthropologists say that traces of such relationships can be found in ancient times.

Sex as the ultimate manifestation of friendship

In traditional societies, the sexual sphere, as a rule, is rigidly inscribed in the system of social relations. In many ancient cultures, where masculinity and masculine power were most valued (in all senses), and women held a subordinate position, close relations developed between men. Sex could be an extreme expression of friendship, but could be a sign of respect or a service that the younger ones provided to the elders. In ancient Greece, carnal love between men was in the order of things, and often the roles of partners were fixed: one always dominated, and the other obeyed. Homosexual couples were formed in medieval Japan, where the martial culture of the samurai flourished. In the peoples of Melanesia and New Guinea, the rites of dedication of boys to men have a sexual side. Aborigines believed that, together with the seed, adolescents received strength from their elders2.

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Gradually social norms were transformed, but the general basis of relations remained. Sexologist Igor Kon believes that these relations are generated by the very nature of male sexuality: "Men tend to describe and symbolize any of their relationships in sexual terms.Spatial closeness and joint activity inevitably engenders between individuals, regardless of their gender, individual emotional attachments, which under certain conditions can be eroticized, turning ordinary friendship into a "romantic" or "special" friendship. "3 In this sense, we are not talking about the biological and physiological side of the issue: these men do not cease to be interested in women, but their connections with other men become for them a source of new sensations, a continuation of a feeling of brotherly love and solidarity. True, there is something that prevents them from accepting these experiences.

Jane Ward points out that these men have a common paradoxical feature: attraction to other men is combined with active and even aggressive homophobia - rejection of homosexuals, ridiculing stereotypical homosexual traits. And the stronger the attraction, the more pronounced the desire to prove to myself and others: I'm not like "these." This is the situation shown in Alfonso Cuaron's film "And Your Mom" ​​(2001): two friends wake up naked in the same bed after a stormy night. The spectator guesses that at night something happened between them.The friendship of young people collapses - but not because of their own sexual contradictions (they are still attracted to women), but because of shame and embarrassment, inability to correlate their idea of ​​masculinity with what happened.

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Imposed definitions

What makes these men ashamed, even the idea of ​​homosexuality? "Homophobia expresses fear not so much for homosexuals as for other men in general, the fear that other men can expose us, show ourselves and the whole world that we do not pull, that we are not real men," writes Igor Kon. Suspicions of others give rise to uncertainty about our status. The society excludes a person caught in homosexual behavior from a heterosexual camp (not necessarily subjecting him to ostracism), and invites him to accept the rules of the homosexual camp's behavior. A man is forced either to accept a new status and adjust to those with whom he will henceforth be identified by others, or to justify himself and deny himself of his desires and actions.

Jane Ward points out that young people today increasingly use the term "sexually flexible" to describe their behavior. "The very possibility for them to cross borders from time to time is important. On the one hand, this allows them not to take their hobbies too seriously. On the other hand, it can be an expression of protest against the most descriptive model, which requires you to clear self-determination - whether you are heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual, "the author explains.

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"In most cases, the terms" heterosexuals "," bisexuals "or any other" sex "are not very justified," Ernst Light believes. "They are invented to describe phenomena in a traditional way." Everything that does not fit into such a description is not noticed for the time being. In a society where public behavior is strictly regulated, any public kiss can be unacceptable, and in a society with a different attitude to sexuality, this can not be taken into account. Igor Cohn said that with the weakening of the need to hide something, sexual identity will lose the importance that it now has.And the need to define oneself somehow will disappear by itself. "

1 J. Ward "Not Gay: Sex between Straight White Men" (NYU Pres, 2015).
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