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, 61 (10), 1462-80

What We Can't See? Understanding the Representations and Meanings of UAI, Barebacking, and Semen Exchange in Gay Male Pornography

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What We Can't See? Understanding the Representations and Meanings of UAI, Barebacking, and Semen Exchange in Gay Male Pornography

Sharif Mowlabocus et al. J Homosex.

Abstract

Since the late 1990s, the use of condoms within gay male pornography has been on the wane. Moving from a niche category into more mainstream forms of commercial pornography, unprotected anal sex has become a dominant theme within this sphere of gay male sexual representation. However, while the definition of what constitutes bareback pornography may at first sight appear unproblematic, this article argues that meanings and understandings of unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) are not constant across all genres of gay male pornography. Using textual analysis and focus group methods, the authors demonstrate how subcultural understandings of UAI are dependent on a variety of textual factors. These include the age, body type, and racial identities of the performers; the setting, context, and mise-en-scène of the pornographic scene; and the deployment of power relations between the insertive and receptive partners. The article concludes by suggesting that the recognition of the diverse representations of "barebacking" found in contemporary gay male pornography should influence the ways in which health promotion strategies address discussions of UAI and bareback pornography.

Keywords: HIV; barebacking; pornography; representation; semen exchange; sexual risk.

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