chapter  3
12 Pages

“Not only macho-fuckers are barebackers”

Challenging gender relations among men who have sex with men
WithAngel Gasch

Barebacking is a sexual practice that has been problematized among men who have sex with men (MSM) since the mid-1990s. Although this sexual practice could be studied across the spectrum of sexual orientations, theoretical, epidemiological and behavioral approaches to bareback sex have nevertheless focused on the MSM population. Bareback sex among MSM has been defined as intentional condomless anal intercourse. Hegemonic masculinity occupies the highest position in the gender hierarchy, and those men recognized as closest to this position receive the benefits of heteropatriarchy. This chapter considers how MSM challenge gender relations within the heteropatriarchal gender structure through their sexual practices and relationships. Bodily agency, as a contesting mechanism manifested in barebacking, appears within relationships complicit with hegemonic masculinity. Current prevention discourses seem unable to understand these transgressive practices, which demonstrate how MSM relate to each other, obtain pleasure and build on their desires, and MSM are often criminalized.