So, what is sex and gender and about, really, when you get right down to it?

There is an interesting discussion happening on the Reddit Sex group, in which responders are shown a picture and asked to choose between two different hypothetical partners; one being  A) a masculine looking pre-op FtM (Buck Angel, for anyone interested), and the other being B) a feminine looking pre-op MtF (which has been identified as Camila Rodrigues). The purpose of this question is to, essentially, screw with your mind as you try to reconcile the differences between them; that is, do you want the pussy or the penis, depending upon the rest of the, er, package?

The Reddit members tended to be straight males, and overwhelmingly picked B, the MtF. A handful, of self-identified gay men not unsurprisingly picked A. More interestingly, a smattering of straight women also responded, most picking B, as well.

Imagine an alien sociologist, his early research spent studying our broadcast media, being confused by the answers; after all, aren’t men supposed to be typically thinking with their dicks? That means the straight guys should have preferred A, since it was the only body with a vagina. Here’s one take on it by one of the very few men who picked A:

Straight male here and I choose A. I like vagina so much that I won’t mind the masculine frame. Plus it all feels similar in the dark right?

However, a small number of others waffled the question like this:

Straight Male: A with a paper bag over his head and from behind. B with no paper bag but from behind.

Apparently, something else is happening here that’s not as obvious to someone unfamiliar with Western culture. Since I also would have picked, B, in the absence of any in-depth discussion on the group, I’m going to offer up the non-obvious hypothesis that for most people, sexual preference is not a specifically genital-oriented function; rather, the more important (although less overt) factors are cultural instead of physiological. Cultural, in the sense that although we associate women with vaginas, it’s also important — perhaps even more important — to associate women with other variables such as smooth skin (vis a vis razor stubble and facial hair), softer, rounder features, and less muscle definition.

One respondent summed up my own feelings perfectly:

Straight guy here and I would go for B. I’d have a problem going to town on a guy with a pussy who looks more manly than I do.

I’m going to suggest that these additional characteristics aren’t obvious (or at least, as obvious); however, they are likely overshadowed because normally we don’t expect women to be anything else. In fact, women who are not “womanly” (nicely styled hair, svelte shape, welcoming attitude, etc.) are often assumed to be lesbians. For that matter, mannish (fsv of “mannish”) women are not even “proper” lesbians, but “dykes”. There’s simply no other conception of “people with vaginas” except attractive straight women, attractive lesbians, and dykes.  This is probably one of the reasons that “she-males”, that is, MtF pre-op women, are a somewhat popular sub-genre of porn, while FtM porn (hell, we don’t even have a cute moniker for them) barely ranks; even with a penis, they (she-males) at least have the overall appearance of a sexually available woman.

This is why the picture and question are so fascinating — it underlines our cultural paradigms of what straight male sexuality should find desirable.

And interesting, too, is that the straight men who picked B but who also qualified their choice in some way usually did so with respect to penetrative intercourse. I suppose that I could tie this into a chastity-related post by talking about how more open men become to exploring alternative sexualities once their tonker is locked up. And while it’s true that without having your penis driving the bus you do tend to perceive sex differently, this isn’t really analogous.

The point of this set of pictures is that there is something going on underneath our cultural conception of sexuality that bypasses genitalia entirely; something that has less to do with penetration, and is more about our unspoken expectations of masculinity and femininity.

About Tom Allen

The Grey Geezer Dauntless defender of, um, something that needed dauntless defending. Dammit, I can't read this script without my glasses. Hey, you kids, get off my damn lawn!
This entry was posted in Appearance, Culture, Gender Bending, Sexuality & Relationships, Transgender and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Druthers

  1. nuts4belle says:

    B for sure. Belle agrees.

  2. slave_nemo says:

    Perhaps it has as much to do with how our society has taught us to look at beauty. Breasts are a factor in most men’s choices of this sort. Thus, the porn sites featuring she-males but not the reverse.

    I, also agree with you, Tom, that chastity does indeed change one’s view of sexuality. After wearing a CD for awhile, I began looking more at she-males than I ever did before. I don’t know why.

    BTW, I would also choose ‘B’, but I wonder if ‘A’ were a picture of Brad Pitt with a vagina, would more folks have picked ‘A’???


  3. Fusion says:

    Or if A was a more average looking guy would more guys pick h/she? I would be put off by a pretty boy as much as a buff one. And I wonder what choice the majority of bi sexual females would make.
    Very interesting, a sociology major could do a thesis on this…

  4. kalisisrising says:

    Wow, what an interesting study in human psychology.

  5. Wendy says:

    I love me some penis, but the person in picture B reads WAAAAAAAAAAY to female for me to be attracted to them (despite the lovely cock). Buck reads as male to me, which is what I am attracted to – men. However, I’m not sure how I’d deal with vagina. I find myself attracted to transmen, particularly those who’ve been on T for a while, but the I haven’t acted on it yet, since I’m hesitant about vag. (Which is odd – I will fist it, and fuck it, but have no interest in putting my face in it, so it shouldn’t be an issue, since plenty of people have a dislike of oral sex. Go figure.)

  6. tcs says:

    I guess I am not really surprised. You usually don’t see someone’s genitals until long after attraction forms, and even well after physical contact. Secondary sexual characteristics are very important to attraction. Most straight people are not going to be priamrily attracted to a same sex body, regardless of what is between the legs. I guess it is one step further to figure out why some straight men fetishize shemales. Interestingly, I knew a gay man who had a thing for butch FTMs.

  7. Tom Allen says:

    You usually don’t see someone’s genitals until long after attraction forms, and even well after physical contact.

    LOL – Never thought of it that way, but you’ve got a great point.

  8. Ferns says:

    Yeah, it’s not like for like though…

    A is ‘conventionally’ pretty unattractive (really, a handlebar moustache? Come on!), regardless of genitals. B is gorgeous. There’s a bias built in there.

    My bias goes with the flow, though… definitely B.


  9. scott Kelly says:

    Hi Tom,

    Very interesting – our sexuality can by-pass genitalia – I’ve been in bed with pre-op trannies (MtF) and accepted them as female. I’ve gone down on Alpha Males while imagining myself as their bitch (I suppose I was). Who we are and who we play with is a trick of the mind, gender roles rather than sexual identities. We play with body parts and our libidos do the rest.


    Mrs. Kelly’s Playhouse

  10. Wow, gender has been on my mind lately too (I recently wrote about feminization)! I would choose B as well. I actually don’t like that many muscles! MtF’s actually appeal to me a lot. To me, the female body is very beautiful, and I also like the cock, so it’s a great combo. However, I also enjoy being with women who have female genitalia.

  11. Joanna Cake says:

    Wow, great post! LIke Wendy, I would go for A because B looks too much like a woman.

    Could I cope without cock? Im sure I could with the right toys.

    Could I cope with a vag? Hmmm, thinking about my issues with my own, perhaps dealing with someone else’s might actually be beneficial… but Im not sure 🙂

  12. marianne says:

    Like Joanna, I would go for A, despite the fact that, genitals aside, I’m not really attracted to men who look like that. And I have had sex with women, so I shouldn’t have a bias against a feminine face and body. And I do like me some nice cock. So, I’m frankly surprised at my own reaction… I would choose a less attractive masculine person without my genitalia of choice, over a more attractive feminine looking person with a very useful penis. Weird. Quite a cultural bias indeed.

  13. Judith says:

    I love stumbling across things like this that make you think about society and cultural norms.

    For me, if I could have A with B’s penis I would be in heaven and consider that the perfect man (assuming he acted like he looked, tough/strong/take charge).

    But if I had to choose it would be A, even though I have no desire to have sex with a woman.

    A flips all my buttons to the point that I didn’t even notice that he was anatomically a female until I read the article.

    So if he acts as masculine as he looks I’m pretty sure I would look past the fact he doesn’t have a penis.

    I couldn’t do so with B – she looks too much like a woman. I think would seriously be jealous of her, she’s so beautiful.

  14. Sex Fairy says:

    I’d say B, but I’m a (mostly) straight girl, and I like dick. This has to be harder for a straight man to answer.

  15. Sex Fairy says:

    I love all of the intelligent discussion of gender identity that this prompted! Gender is OBVIOUSLY not only ‘genitals’!

  16. Whitman says:

    At least most everyone thinks ONE of them is do-able.

  17. I’d have to say B. Definitely. I got into a ‘difficult’ discussion about TG girls on music website recently… the thread stated off about homophobia and kind of went of at a tangent and eventually I said that I would feel less uncomfortable sucking cock than kissing a guy, because I don’t fancy men, but that I (like a lot of other men I think) are curious about cock. Needless to say, that comment went down like a lead balloon.

  18. L says:

    As a girl, A definitely. Sex doesn’t revolve around the whims of the cock, as much as I love cock. I appreciate everything behind the penis more than the penis itself: physicality, strength, and other typically masculine attributes, in addition to the right attitude. A has the presence that I find attractive. B just looks like an average, dime-a-dozen, airbrushed photo-of-chick. She has male genitalia. So what? Yawn.

    I feel sorry for the people who can’t even comprehend sex without PIV, and hence, choose B.

  19. L says:

    Also: I’m hoping not to offend anyone, but there is a very long thread about this very subject going on at gurochan.net (sigh, yes, under the “freakshow” category). I find it interesting, though, how many people have admitted to preferring pre-op FtMs over pre-op MtFs, talking about the stigma, and so on. They even have an impromptu survey circulating, and the answers people are giving (many of them are trans and genderqueer folk) are interesting. Also, the art/images they’re sharing are pretty gorgeous as well.

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