September 1, 2010

On crossdreamers and the role of shemale fantasies part 2

The discussion of the connection between crossdreaming and the fascination for transwomen and crossdressers continues.


Shemale pornography

In popular culture the readers of shemale porn are often depicted as love shy nerds and socially clumsy men. In the American TV series Dexter, for instance, the forensic lab tech Vince Masuka is a sex obsessed nerd with a strong interest in shemales.



This stereotype may have some ground in reality, as there are love shy men and crossdreamers who find it hard to cope socially (see my posts on the love-shy men of Gilmartin). I suspect their shyness is as much caused by their crossdreaming as it is the other way round.

Many crossdreamers do not fit this cliché, however, Generally I think the stereotype is based on the belief that shemale lovers are closeted gay men. This is an argument that is often used to establish a divide between "tainted" crossdreamers and "pure" transwomen.

The industry is growing rapidly

Examiner.com had an interesting article on the subject last summer. Using data from Alexa, Google and Internet World Stats they found that nearly 190 million heterosexual men are attracted to transsexual women and actively seek romantic contact with or sexually explicit images of them annually. I believe these are world wide numbers, but if they used English language search terms, a significant number of transfans will have been excluded.

The article by Maddy Claire points out that:

"According to the latest Internet statistics, interest in 'transsexual' topics has risen more than 5,000 percent in the past five years, and interest in 'transsexual dating' has surged more than 400 percent. In the past 90 days alone, combined traffic from the top 10 adult sites and top 10 dating sites catering exclusively to trans-loving males has risen 350 percent."

No, I have not seen the methodology used to arrive at these figures, so we have to take them with a laaaaarge pinch of salt. But they can be taken as an indication of the interest in the topic. The increase is probably partly caused by a general increase in Internet traffic, and the fact that the shemale porn industry is growing so rapidly. For some adult entertainment companies transsexual titles are now apparently outselling all others. Shemale porn has become commonplace.

The customers are straight men

One representative of that industry argues that the majority of customers are straight men: " I don’t even bother to promote it to the gay market, because it would be a waste of money."

This confirms the theory that men interested in pre-op transwomen are gynephiliacs and not homosexual men - at least not in any meaningful sense of the word. They move from traditional heterosexual pornography over to shemale pornography in hope of a resolution to their dilemma. They never move over to gay porn, as they have little or no interest in the male body per se.

This does not mean that all readers of shemale porn are necessarily crossdreamers. Given the variety of the human condition, there must be other explanations as well.

The active male

A strong argument against my theory so far, would be that the male is playing the active part in much of this erotica. If the viewer of such films identifies with the male, he is playing out the typical male copulation instinct, not the female's. Moreover, the shemale does not always plays the role of the dominatrix. She is more often casted in the role of the submissive woman.

This could mean that the viewer, who identifies with the active male, for some reason is fascinated by women with a penis. There could be many psychological explanations for such a fascination (see video below for one of them).

Again, I doubt very much that such a viewer would be a closeted gay man. Gay men are attracted to male bodies with all that entails: broad shoulders, square jaws, strong muscles, hairy chests etc. They are not looking for soft curves and breasts, and there are limits to what upbringing and suppression can do to your sex fantasies.

I am pretty sure there are "normal" heterosexual men who do get turned on by such a scenario, them playing the active manly role in the fantasy. However, it could also be that there are those that identify with the shemale in the movies, pictures and stories. In that scenario, they play the role of the feminized and emasculated man. Sure, she has a penis attached, but it is not used for any manly activity.

Given the masculine stereotypes of modern western culture, this fantasy represents degradation and a humiliation, as the man has been partly castrated (the limp penis) and given the role of a submissive woman (another stereotype based on a negative view of women). But for the crossdreamer it may stand for another resolution to the need for being the catcher instead of the pitcher.

Remember that we are talking about sexual fantasies here, not real life. Some research shows that some 50 percent of both men and women have fantasies of being raped by someone of the opposite sex. I doubt you will find any of them wanting to be raped in real life. The fact that such fantasies are common puts the rape fantasies of crossdreamers in a different light, though. It is the feminization aspect that makes them different, not the fantasies of being taken by force.

Men as props

The observant reader should now stop me, demanding an answer for a very embarrassing inconsistency in my discussion. I say that these shemale porn customers are not gay , because they are not attracted to the male physique. In spite of this I argue that some M2F crossdreamers may fantasize of taking the role of a shemale being taken by a male! Come on! This make no sense at all!

I readily admit that this is a dilemma. The autogynephilia reseacher Ray Blanchard's answer to the puzzle of gynephilic men fantasizing of being taken by men, is that these fantasy men are not real men at all, but masturbatory props, like dildos i guess -- only bigger.

These fantasies are not limited to shemale fantasies. The M2F transgender erotica I wrote about above is full of descriptions of crossdreamers having sex with men after been changed into a woman. Actually, this is the theme in most of the stories.

Blanchard, of course, uses this phenomenon to underpin that crossdreamers are autoerotic only. They are sexually attracted to the idea of themselves as a woman, not to any real person out there. The fact that the men in these fantasies are faceless and without personality proves that this is a paraphilia, according to him. When women fantasize about men these men are either people they know or some concrete acquaintance, movie star or sport's celebrity. The autogynephiliac does not care about such things.

You know, this is one of Blanchard's best arguments. It truly is, because the men in crossdreamer fantasies are often faceless, and I do think he is right when he says that these fantasy men are often -- but not always -- props. And I also think he is right when he argues that the men are faceless because these crossdreamers are gynephilic (woman-loving) and not androphilic (man-loving).

But you can easily explain this without arguing that the man has internalized his external love object, i.e. the real women out there.

First, remember that M2F crossdreamers are perfectly capable of loving others and also feel sexual desire for them. Nearly all of them fall in love, but with women.

But if their copulation instinct is female, a traditional western heterosexual relationship may not give them the sexual release they are looking for. The M2F crossdreamer can play the role of the penetrator, but is wired to be the penetree (- yeah, I just made that word up). The being-taken-by-a-faceless-man fantasies are a way of resolving this urge, as is the dominatrix with a strap-on fantasies and the dominant shemale fantasies.

The M2F crossdreamer longs to be at the receiving end when having sex, and in his/hers sexual fantasies he conjure up a faceless man to play the part of the man that makes him/her a complete woman.

And before you go: "OMG! That only proves that the crossdreamer is a sexual pervert and not a real woman at all!" please do stop and consider this: The desire for sex is an ubiquitous human trait. The reason modern women keep a dildo in their drawer is not because they need to massage their aching necks. An inner femininity may just as well express itself as a sexual urge as a need for knitting or child care. For most crossdressers, for instance, this sexual urge is part of a larger complex of deep felt dreams about being a woman.

Category breakdown

Now we are close to the reason for all the confusion. GB's call girl considered all passive men to be gay, even if they went to her, a woman. Blanchard is unable to make any sensible explanation for the origin of autogynephiliacs, because he -- like the prostitute -- needs to put them in one of two categories: heterosexual or homosexual. In his universe bisexuals and asexuals are put in the same box as the gynephilic, because there are only two ways of sexual attraction: same sex and opposite sex.

As I see it, the crossdreamers have actually much more in common with feminine gay men and androphilic transwoman than both Blanchard and most crossdressers would like to think.

I don't have enough information on gay men to make any sensible judgment on Blanchard and Bailey's claim that all gay men are feminine by origin, and by implication that they are all bottoms. But some of them are. And so are most of the crossdreamers.

In that sense the call-girl was right. She had sensed that there was something different about a male customer who wanted to bend over and... well. She had only one category for this: gay.

In a later post I will present a model that may help us get a grip on it all.

POSTSCRIPT: RAY BLANCHARD ON MEN WITH SEXUAL INTEREST IN TRANSVESTITES

I have not referred much to research on transfans in these posts, simply because I cannot find anything interesting. Blanchard has been co-author of a couple of articles. As always, he demonstrates how good a typologist he is. He knows how to sort complex observations into sensible categories. However, as soon as he has classified what he sees, he loses interest. He may throw out a hypothesis or two, but never bothers to see if the hypothesis is right. This applies to the autogynephilia theory and it applies to his work on tranfans (the "gynantromorphilics").

In a study of men placing personal ads searching for crossdressers, transvestites, shemales and transsexuals, Blanchard found that a majority of the men placing ads were not crossdressers themselves. How he was able to make this observation, I do not know, as the ads does not include such information, but he uses it as a basis for saying that these gynantromorphilics represents a separate erotic interest from the one of crossdressers. I doubt it.

Blanchard refers to research done by Money and Lamacz, who indicate that there may be a difference between an interest in crossdressers and an interest in what they call gynemimetics (androphilic transgenderists, i.e. transwomen who keep their penis). A gynemimetiphiliac is a man who falls in love with a gynemimetic (Help! Someone has to tell them to make more catchy labels!) . Blanchard concludes that although different transfans may be attracted to different types of transpeople, it makes sense to have one term to use for them all. That makes sense to me as well.

Here's the alternative approach to the transfan phenomenon, presented by YouTube vlogger Trannygirl15:



See also discussion over at Tevolve: Men who date trans women

Ray Blanchard: The she-male phenomenon and the concept of partial autogynephilia Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, Volume 19, Issue 1 Spring 1993 , pages 69 - 76

Blanchard R, Collins PI: Men with sexual interest in transvestites, transsexuals, and she-males. J Nerv Ment Dis. 1993 Sep;181(9):570-5.

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