Bodily, Behavioral, and Psychological characteristics of Gay Men Identifying as Bears

Bodily, Behavioral, and Psychological characteristics of Gay Men Identifying as Bears

Abstract

The Bear community exists as a subculture in a reaction to the bigger homosexual community. It rejects the normative idealized male beauty revered by conventional homosexual males. While qualitative information document such self-identifiers as masculine-acting homosexual guys who weigh more while having more human anatomy locks, here needs to date been no quantitative analysis for this team’s faculties. In reaction, we carried out two large-scale studies of homosexual guys determining as Bears (letter = 469) to review their self-reported real dating for seniors, behavioral, and traits that are psychological. Our studies suggested that Bears had been more prone to be hairier, heavier, and smaller than conventional men that are gay. They reported wanting lovers whom were hairier and heavier. They certainly were less likely to want to reject partners that are sexual the lovers they did reject were more prone to be young or weigh not enough (in other terms., weren’t bearish). Bears had been more most most likely than conventional men that are gay enact diverse intimate habits ( ag e.g., fisting, voyeurism) and were comparatively more masculine. Bears had lower self-esteem but were believe it or not (or higher) hypermasculine than non-Bears. We concluded that Bears are extremely intimate. We speculate that Bears are seen as less appealing than what exactly is typically regarded as appealing. The lovers they could attract can be restricted and, in reaction to the limitation, they might be especially attuned to search out lovers that will perhaps not reject them. This problem may create the reduced self-esteem exhibited and may also explain the way the Bear tradition developed to make sure that perhaps the heaviest, hairiest, and/or individual that is shortest can mate. Future analyses associated with the health that is community’s warranted.

INTRODUCTION

The community that is gay finally a heterogeneous one with several subgroups and subcultures—one regarding the commonalities one of them being the want to have same-sex encounters. One subculture that is such made up of homosexual and bisexual males whom identify as Bears. Bears self-present as getting the “correct attitude” towards their “naturally developing/aging” male bodies (Monaghan, 2005). They consider “real” masculinity to incorporate comfort that is having other guys’s bodies and eschew the more normative gay male body-model (in other words., one for which thinness, youth, hairlessness, and muscularity are revered) (Drummond, 2005; Duncan, 2007). They prefer alternatively a body-model which may be predetermined by genetics, age, or heteronormative beliefs that are masculinei.e., males should consider more and get hairier) (Wright, 1997). There are lots of subdivisions that are different the Bear community. Males are classified mainly by their hairiness, but in addition by how much they weigh, age, and ethnicity. Divisions inside the community may contain: Grizzly Bears (White, hairy, heavier guys), Cubs (younger hairy men), Polar Bears (older men with greying or hair that is white, Big Teddy Bears (men that are hairy, yet thicker than Grizzly Bears), Otters (males who will be hairy but slim), along with other classifications encompassing cultural variants such as for example Black Bears (hairy men of color) or Panda Bears (hairy Asian or Pacific Islander males) (Monaghan, 2005). Despite physical distinctions inside the Bear community, all the guys contribute to a provided identification: masculinity is praised and as a consequence celebrated inside the community. While there is a dearth of basic research regarding this community, with no studies up to now that usage quantitative practices, we made a decision to explore this community quantitatively—using an Internet-convenience sample, followed closely by a purposive test.

A greater sense of dominant (but not necessarily domineering) “authentic masculinity” in comparison to other subcultures within the gay community (e.g., twinks or drag queens) (Hennen, 2005) as suggested, the Bear culture exhibits and values. Bear culture is complex and inextricably associated with heteronormative and hegemonic ideologies that are masculine. This implies that the Bear identification not just is “conventionally gendered” but includes a specific presentation of self (Hennen, 2005). Though ostensible similarities and overlapping faculties occur between Bears as well as other homosexual male subcultures (age.g., the Leathermen), research suggests that their expressions of masculinity, threshold of actions, and values might be unique (Wright, 1997). For instance, where Leathermen revere hypermasculinity as a trait that encompasses adopting danger, fearlessness, energy, and intimate callousness. Bears try not to. Unconditional acceptance and empathy occur instead of hypermasculinity (Manley, Levitt, & Mosher, 2007). Intimate lovers matter as they are egalitarian. It may be psychologically harmful to reside with immutable and devalued physical faculties, specially within main-stream countries that intimately condemn such faculties (Kimmel & Mahalik, 2005). As a result as well as in comparison with Leathermen, Bears keep their masculine identification without adopting hypermasculine that is negative to support all lovers, despite their size or human body hairiness.

There is certainly some theoretical help for why the Bear identification splintered through the male mainstream culture that is gay. Personal identification concept implies that teams adopt social imagination methods. Tajfel and Turner (1986) have discovered that subordinate team users will, often times, you will need to transform their identification from being a poor someone to a good one by “changing the values assigned towards the characteristics associated with the team, to make certain that evaluations that have been formerly negative are actually regarded as good” (p. 20). The classic exemplory case of this will be African People in the us adopting “Black is gorgeous.” Bears can do one thing comparable by changing the concept of their thicker, faster, and hairier physiques, in accordance with conventional gays. That is, to contradict “superordinate” gay male subcultures ( ag e.g., twinks, partyboys, A-listers) being antithetical to, as well as antagonistic towards Bears, men who’re hairier and weightier exist and follow an identity to affront the stereotypical “alpha” homosexual male. Therefore, being “rugged,” “natural,” and “masculine” are reinvented by this grouped community through increased fat, hairiness, and indifference to fashion (Hennen, 2005).

Popular tradition, the news, and Western hetero- and homosexual objectives have actually normalized the best body that is male one that is slim, muscular, and v-shaped (with broad arms, a slim waistline, and a set but well-defined belly) (Olivardia, Pope, Borowiecki, & Cohane, 2000). This form of the male human anatomy and its components are increasingly portrayed in objectifying methods, such as imagery that features bare chests or emphasizes vaginal bulges (Leit Pope, & Gary, 2001). It also happens to be noted that, due to the importance that is extreme on human anatomy image, physiological ( ag e.g., anorexia/bulimia) and mental pathologies ( ag e.g., poor self-image/self-esteem) develop in both heterosexual and homosexual males displaying less desirable real faculties (Beren, Hayden, Wilfley, & Grilo, 1996; Morrison, Morrison, & Sager, 2004; Peplau et al., 2009; Weiner, 2009; Yelland & Tiggemann, 2003). As the male that is ideal appears to be unattainable to many, 14% to 45per cent of males state dissatisfaction using their human body or some facet of it (Garner et al., 1997; Kimmel & Mahalik, 2005). Hence, it’s of small shock that, offered an atmosphere that is cultural which thinness, youth (very related to hairlessness), height, muscularity, and above-average penis size are typical admired and revered (Martins, Tiggemann, & Churchett, 2008), a spinoff subculture that devalues, as well as eschews, such characteristics developed. As being a corollary, meeting information declare that the use associated with Bear identification by males whom cannot or don’t want to accomplish this “idealized excellence” results in increased self-esteem, self-acceptance, and a much better human anatomy image (Manley et al., 2007).

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