Bud-Sex: Constructing Normative Masculinity among Rural Straight Men That Have Sex With Men

Tony Silva*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study draws on semistructured interviews with 19 white, rural, straight-identified men who have sex with men to understand how they perceive their gender and sexuality. It is among the first to use straight men’s own narratives, and helps address the underrepresentation of rural masculinities research. Through complex interpretive processes, participants reworked non-normative sexual practices—those usually antithetical to rural masculinities—to construct normative masculinity. Most chose other masculine, white, and straight or secretly bisexual men as partners for secretive sex without romantic involvement. By choosing these partners and having this type of sex, the participants normalized and authenticated their sexual encounters as straight and normatively masculine. The participants engaged in bud-sex, a specific type of male–male sex that reinforced their rural masculinity and heterosexuality. The married men framed sex with men as less threatening to marriage than extramarital sex with women, helping to preserve a part of their lives that they described as central to their straightness. The results highlight the flexibility of heterosexuality; the centrality of heterosexuality to normative rural masculinity; how similar sexual practices carry different meanings across contexts and populations; and the social construction of masculinities and sexualities by age, race, gender, time period, and place.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-73
Number of pages23
JournalGender and Society
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

Keywords

  • MSM
  • critical heterosexuality
  • masculinity
  • sexual fluidity
  • sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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