What is it about?

Findings from this article suggest that gay, bisexual, and curious men appear to choose partners on dating apps, like Grindr, based on masculinity and ethnicity. Photos of men were shown to a large sample of men from across the United States. Participants tended to select photos of muscular men with European features even when participants identified as Asian or Black. Muscular male photos were preferred over thin male photos, suggesting that traditional masculine stereotypes of the male body are preferred during partner selection. Photos of White and Latino men were selected more often than photos of Asian or Black men, suggesting that sexual racism may influence partner selection.

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Why is it important?

Findings suggest that men who do not meet stereotypical presentations of attractiveness may feel excluded or distressed while looking for partners online, especially since online dating is growing in popularity. Previous work used qualitative data to suggest that gay, bisexual, and curious men selected online partners based on masculinity and ethnicity. This study is among the first to demonstrate the preference for specific bodies and ethnicities quantitatively. Findings can be used to inform public health, sexual education, and community outreach. Therapists might use these results to validate the sexual racism on dating apps for ethnic minority men.

Perspectives

We argue that, among MSM on GSN apps, a hierarchy of desire has formed that privileges heteronormativity, lighter skin tones, and European phenotypes. Since ethnicity is not as amenable to change as masculinity (i.e., one can become more muscular), sexual racism disproportionately affects MSM of color during partner selection.

Cory J. Cascalheira
New Mexico State University

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This page is a summary of: Hierarchy of Desire: Partner Preferences and Social Identities of Men Who Have Sex with Men on Geosocial Networks, Sexuality & Culture, September 2019, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1007/s12119-019-09653-z.
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