Sex and Power



"Power relations between homosexual men in sex and relationships receives little attention in the literature, perhaps assuming a gay egalitarianism and that power is only associated with visible conflict. Yet power is a routine issue in these informants' sexual and social lives. Importantly, visible conflict is not a good marker of power dynamics which are often latent and built into macro-frameworks of social interactions ... there are a variety of 'bases' of power - that is attributes of men which assist them to fulfil their own needs and desires, even against the will of their partner. Such power bases include ethnicity, experience, age, looks, social and sexual skills, and economic resources ... power bases, rather than being fixed in stone, are in flux as social interactions unfold and circumstances change. That is, power is 'negotiated' between men in sexual and social interactions. 'Negotiating power', which is frequently subtle and non-verbal, is a highly complex activity, dependent on the specific actors, interactions and their meanings, settings and wider social contexts."





In this section on Sex and Power I have included the above quotation by Damien Ridge because I think it expresses better than I can ever say the importance of 'negotiating' power in the sexual interactions of gay men. Further, I suggest that within these sexual contexts the negotiation of power is not just about power itself but also about a gay man's (re)negotiation of the sense his of own 'masculinity', undertaken through their sexual experiences while on the job. Such experiences can be full of excitement and possible danger.

With regard to my research into the 'to have and to hold' of sex with a man that fits your 'ideal', I suggest that power bases such as ethnicity, age, looks, and sexual & social skills (including communication skills) are vital to the subsequent interactions in a sexual encounter. Desire is one power base that I believe Damien Ridge has neglected to mention, Desire for your 'ideal' man may give that person power over you because they believe that you will do anything to have sex with them, to be with them. Even a touch from this person gets you sexually aroused and you will do anything to have them. This can and does lead to an abuse of power through consensual or non-consensual sex without a condom (See Story 4).