Bodily, Behavioral, and Psychological characteristics of Gay Men Identifying as Bears

Bodily, Behavioral, and Psychological characteristics of Gay Men Identifying as Bears


The Bear community exists as a subculture in response to the more expensive homosexual community. It rejects the normative idealized beauty that is male by main-stream homosexual males. While qualitative information document such self-identifiers as masculine-acting homosexual guys who weigh more and have now more human anatomy locks, here needs to date been no analysis that is quantitative of team’s traits. In reaction, we carried out two large-scale studies of homosexual guys determining as Bears (letter = 469) to review their self-reported physical, behavioral, and traits that are psychological. Our studies suggested that Bears were almost certainly going to be hairier, heavier, and smaller than conventional homosexual males. They reported partners that are wanting were hairier and heavier. These were less inclined to reject partners that are sexual the lovers they did reject were almost certainly going to be young or weigh not enough (in other words., weren’t bearish). Bears had been more most most most likely than main-stream men that are gay enact diverse intimate habits ( ag e.g., fisting, voyeurism) and were comparatively more masculine. Bears had lower self-esteem but were believe it or not (or even more) hypermasculine than non-Bears. We concluded that Bears are extremely intimate. We speculate that Bears are regarded as less appealing than what’s typically regarded as appealing. The lovers they could attract could be restricted and, in reaction to the limitation, they might be especially attuned to search out lovers that will maybe perhaps not reject them. This problem may create the lower self-esteem exhibited and may also explain the way the Bear tradition developed to ensure perhaps the heaviest, hairiest, and/or individual that is shortest can mate. Future analyses of this health that is community’s warranted.


The homosexual community is finally a heterogeneous one with several subgroups and subcultures??”one regarding the commonalities one of them being the need to have same-sex encounters. One subculture that is such made up of homosexual and bisexual guys whom identify as Bears. Bears self-present as getting the attitude??? that is???correct their ???naturally developing/aging??? male bodies (Monaghan, 2005). They consider ???real??? masculinity to incorporate having convenience with other males’s bodies and eschew the more normative gay male body-model (i.e., one by which thinness, youth, hairlessness, and muscularity are revered) (Drummond, 2005; Duncan, 2007). They prefer alternatively a body-model which may be predetermined by genetics, age, or heteronormative beliefs that are masculinei.e., males should consider more and become hairier) (Wright, 1997). There are lots of subdivisions that are different the Bear community. Males are classified mainly by their hairiness, but in addition by how much they weigh, age, and ethnicity. Divisions inside the community may include: Grizzly Bears (White, hairy, heavier males), Cubs (younger hairy men), Polar Bears (older men with greying or hair that is white, Big Teddy Bears (men who will be hairy, yet more substantial than Grizzly Bears), Otters (males that are hairy but slim), along with other classifications encompassing cultural variants such as for example Ebony Bears (hairy males of color) or Panda Bears (hairy Asian or Pacific Islander males) (Monaghan, 2005). Despite real distinctions in the Bear community, all the guys sign up for a shared identification: masculinity is praised and for that reason celebrated inside the community. While there is a dearth of basic research regarding this community, with no studies up to now which use quantitative practices, we chose to explore this community quantitatively??”using an Internet-convenience sample, followed closely by a sample that is purposive.

As recommended, the Bear tradition displays and values a better feeling of principal (although not necessarily domineering) ???authentic masculinity??? in comparison to many other subcultures inside the homosexual community (e.g., twinks or drag queens) (Hennen, 2005). Bear culture is complex and inextricably linked with heteronormative and hegemonic masculine ideologies. This shows that the Bear identification not merely is ???conventionally gendered??? but includes a certain presentation of self (Hennen, 2005). Though ostensible similarities and overlapping characteristics occur between Bears as well as other homosexual male subcultures (age.g., the Leathermen), research shows that their expressions of masculinity, tolerance of actions, and values can be unique (Wright, 1997). For instance, where Leathermen revere hypermasculinity being a trait that encompasses adopting danger, fearlessness, energy, and intimate callousness. Bears try not to. Unconditional empathy and acceptance occur instead of hypermasculinity (Manley, Levitt, & Mosher, 2007). Intimate lovers matter and are also egalitarian. It may be psychologically harmful to reside with immutable and devalued physical characteristics, specially within conventional countries that intimately condemn such faculties (Kimmel & Mahalik, 2005). In reaction as well as in comparison with Leathermen, Bears keep their masculine identification without adopting negative hypermasculine tendencies to allow for all lovers, despite their size or human anatomy hairiness.

There is certainly some theoretical help for why the Bear identity splintered from the homosexual male conventional tradition. Personal identification theory shows that teams adopt social imagination techniques. Tajfel and Turner (1986) have discovered that subordinate team people will, in some instances, make an effort to transform their identification from being an adverse anyone to an optimistic one by ???changing the values assigned to your characteristics regarding the combined team, making sure that evaluations that have been formerly negative are actually regarded as good??? (p. 20). The classic exemplory instance of this is certainly African People in the us adopting ???Black is stunning.??? Bears can do something comparable by changing the concept of these thicker, faster, and hairier physiques, in accordance with conventional gays. That is, to contradict ???superordinate??? gay male subcultures ( e.g., twinks, partyboys, A-listers) which are antithetical to, and also antagonistic towards Bears, men who’re hairier and weightier exist and follow an identity to affront the stereotypical ???alpha??? homosexual male. Hence, being ???rugged,??? ???natural,??? and ???masculine??? are reinvented by this community through increased fat, hairiness, and indifference to fashion (Hennen, 2005).

Popular tradition, the news, and Western hetero- and homosexual objectives have actually normalized the best body that is male one that’s slim, muscular, and v-shaped (with broad arms, a narrow waistline, and a set but well-defined belly) (Olivardia, Pope, Borowiecki, & Cohane, 2000). This form of the body that is male its components are increasingly portrayed in objectifying methods, such as imagery that features bare chests or emphasizes vaginal bulges (Leit Pope, & Gary, 2001). It also happens to be noted that, as a consequence of the extreme importance put on human body image, physiological ( e.g., anorexia/bulimia) and emotional pathologies ( ag e.g., bad self-image/self-esteem) develop in both heterosexual and homosexual guys displaying less desirable real characteristics (Beren, Hayden, Wilfley, & Grilo, 1996; Morrison, Morrison, & Sager, 2004; Peplau et al., 2009; Weiner, 2009; Yelland & Tiggemann, 2003). As the male that is ideal appears to be unattainable to many, 14% to 45per cent of males state dissatisfaction along with their human anatomy or some part of it (Garner et al., 1997; Kimmel & Mahalik, 2005). Therefore, it really is of small shock that, provided an atmosphere that is cultural which thinness, youth (very connected with hairlessness), height, muscularity, and above-average penis size are typical admired and revered (Martins, Tiggemann, & Churchett, 2008), a spinoff subculture that devalues, and also eschews, such characteristics developed. As a corollary, meeting information claim that the use regarding the Bear identification by males whom cannot or don’t want to accomplish this ???idealized excellence??? results in increased self-esteem, self-acceptance, and an improved human anatomy image (Manley et al., 2007).

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