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10th Anniversary Special Issue: ‘Queer Style and Porn Chic’
  • ISSN: 2050-0726
  • E-ISSN: 2050-0734

Abstract

The social media-based #GraySweatpantsChallenge called for men to don a pair of grey sweatpants and share photos of how well the garment showed off their endowments. The accessibility and current social acceptance of sweatpants as a stylized garment allowed men of all races and classes to participate in the challenge. The Black men who participated received significant amounts of likes, shares and comments from female spectators who openly expressed their appreciation of the images on social media. This garnered the attention of predominantly White men who quickly co-opted the challenge by posting self-images with absurdly large objects shoved into their grey sweatpants. Although many people found these photos to be amusing, the takeover can be viewed as an extension of the scopic dismemberment of the Black penis that is connected to lynching photographs in the nineteenth century and to the myth of the ‘big Black dick’. Part fear and part fantasy, this myth is responsible for the continued fetishization and symbolic castration of the Black penis which can be seen in the creation of art images (particularly those by Robert Mapplethorpe), and racialized pornography (specifically gay). The #GraySweatpantsChallenge photos, however, do provide an opportunity for Black men to attempt a recuperation of the penises that had been literally and symbolically stolen from them for three centuries.

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/content/journals/10.1386/fspc_00126_1
2023-02-27
2024-07-15
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/content/journals/10.1386/fspc_00126_1
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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Beefcake; female gaze; gay pornography; racism; scopophilia; social media
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