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We All Know What Barebacking Is, Right?

We All Know What Barebacking Is, Right?


Condomless sex in pornography is not always labeled barebacking.

There is a presumption that all gay and bisexual men know what bareback sex is. It's sex without a condom, right? Well, sort of.

A study from the United Kingdom has uncovered the very nuanced world of defining bareback sex in the context of pornography, from a user's perspective. No big surprise, it's much more complicated than we care to acknowledge in a world of 10-second sound bytes. 

So what did the study find?

"In our research, we found that a range of factors contributed to labelling of a porn scene as 'bareback.' These include:

The location of the scene (is the scene set in a Mediterranean villa or a disused warehouse?)

Differences in the age and race of the performers e.g. 'interracial' and 'intergenerational' porn)

Power imbalances (dominant 'tops' and a submissive 'bottom')

The role of semen exchange (cumplay) in the scene

Perceived relationship of the performers (are they pretending to be boyfriends or is it supposed to be an anonymous encounter?)

Turns out, guys were more likely to define a porn scene as bareback if these above factors were more 'risque,' 'naughty,' or 'controversial.' A scene involving two young men of a similar age having unprotected sex in a more romantic or domestic setting was much less likely to be viewed as bareback than men engaged in a group sex scene featuring unprotected sex in an industrial setting, with men of largely differing ages and ethnic backgrounds."

Researchers acknowledge this finding may require new strategies in addressing sexual risk among men who have sex with men. 

What do you think? Is condomless sex always bareback sex? How do you define condomless sex in your conversations with friends, lovers and partners? 




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Todd Heywood