Sex talk
Speaking of Gender

Simon Sheppard, QSyndicate.com

"Real men don't take it up the ass." Or that's what much of the straight world believes.

Boys should do this. Girls should do that. Of all the world's binary oppositions, few are more universal and deeply ingrained than the ol' male/female thing.

Lately, though, old ideas about gender have been undergoing a thorough shake-up. From the advent of unisex clothing to the rise of "metrosexuality," notions of how men and women are supposed to look and act have been in flux for decades. Science now tells us that some gender-based behavior can stem from biological factors, but plenty of what we think of as "natural" is just a societal invention. And lots of us have been exposed to transsexuality, whether through watching award-winning movies or getting to know the female-to-male guy down the block. But, as one observer of the scene says, "Most fellows, whether queer or straight, still buy into traditional concepts of masculinity. Ignorant homophobes deride gays as 'men who want to be girls,' and that can get internalized. Plenty of young men coming out are concerned they'll be less like a real guy�whatever that is."

Sure, there are plenty of drag queens who manage to get laid, but – be it in porn or personal ads – "butch" still packs a punch. When it comes to seeking sex, many of us – whether hulking hunks in leather, butchly bearded bears, or "straight-acting" jocks – play to notions of stereotypical maleness. "Sure, I put 'no fems' in my online ads," says one man. "Hell, if I wanted to fuck somebody girlish, I'd be straight."

That brings up the thorny question of whether "effeminate" translates into "female." How many women do you know, after all, who behave like RuPaul? Be that as it may, androgyny, too, has its fans. Plenty of homos are attracted to fierce, femmy queens. And many an older man who lusts after young meat prefers his barely legal boys to be free of masculine signifiers like bulging muscles and bristling chest hair.

Outright gender-blurring can be sexy, too. Even a simple mention of "boypussy" can spice up bedplay. Cross-dressing scenes, whether a matter of a simple pair of silky panties or full-bore, tip-to-toe drag, can be kinky, cock-hardening fun. And more than a few theoretically straight men lust after "chicks with dicks."

Sure, in straight sex, the man is he-who-penetrates – unless there's a strap-on involved. But when it comes to male/male sex, things aren't nearly so simple. Short of gender reassignment, biomales stay men and biofemales stay women, but there are lots of fellows – including ostentatiously "manly" ones – who are tops one night and bottoms the next. And when it comes to oral sex, the "who's the real man" quandary gets even fuzzier.

As one butchish man – who's been known on occasion to play the role of "Daddy's little girl" – says, "Gay couples, who don't fit into the hetero union-of-opposites model to start with, have more freedom to play with gender stuff. And that can be a hell of a lot of fun."

Sex isn't just about fucking and fun, of course. It can also be about self-exploration, and connecting with others at a deeper level. "This is a 'real man,' and this is how he should he behave" is a construct that can constrain us, so letting our libidos lead us to the frontiers of gender can be well worth the journey.

And if nothing else, you might be able to get your boyfriend to buy you some simply stunning lingerie.

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion

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