As a blouse — or feminine top — when an article on “Top Privilege” pops up in my news feed, oh, I’ll double-click, sure, and I’ll wait for the crashing wave of hyperbole and hold on to the sides of my desk for just some shred of reason. But we do not live in a reasonable age. It’s the time of the pop-up ad: quick, mildly annoying bursts of information thrust at us, with the immediacy and voracity of a toddler needing to use the bathroom. We are yelled at from all corners, so why should I expect anything different from such a thought-provoking title as “Top Privilege?”
The title itself is a pop-up, sexual, and a liberal buzzword. It’s titillating, in a way that appeals solely to my sense of liberalism. And when you add a question mark, it makes it just palatable enough to be non-offensive in some thought-provoking way. Right? And as a gay white top, an article about my supposed privilege is something I would want to know about to know right away. I want to know if I am exploiting my bottoms — well, let’s call them “colleagues.”
And so it begins.
In a conversation about anal sex, most gay men want stay away from the “unspeakable.” Poo. It’s something we want to avoid like the plague. And as a community already dealing with plague, that’s pretty major. We don’t talk about it; we take precautions to avoid it and wish and hope harder than Dusty Springfield that it doesn’t happen. Now, to be fair, this responsibility lies mostly on the bottom. But the effort is appreciated by all.
Bottoms, apparently, can’t eat Chipotle, and they want to. They want to badly.
As I continued to read, I had this image of huddled wastrels, longingly looking through plate glass windows with salivating mouths, puckered amidst the sunken, malnourished cheeks of starved bottoms — while behind the glass, laughing tops gorge themselves in arrogant bliss, totally unaware of the starvation that lurks around them. It’s a scene right out of Oliver Twist or a Sally Struthers commercial, and I was ready to run out and at least buy lunch for a friend.
But then there was this: “We would joke that top privilege is the sexual equivalent of the white privilege in the world.”
Wait, what? Top Privilege is white privilege?
How did we go from a lunch inconvenience to a systematic sublimation of races worldwide? How did we get from a burrito to apartheid? I continued to read on because I thought surely such a statement, such gross insensitivity and exaggeration has to be backed up by something. Anything. But no. Not even close.
What follows is a rambling of agenda. Tops are more masculine, and gay men prize and sexualize masculinity above all else. Masculine men being more desirable, have much more power. And bottoms, obviously being more feminine, are left alone, starving not only for attention and love, but for Chipotle.
Oh, and AIDS.
Bottoms are more susceptible to HIV. Now, in point of fact this is true, as any receptive partner is more susceptible to transmission, but the sea of convulsion and just plain bad writing that has spiraled us into the subject of HIV lies waste to the information, however accurate. By this point in the article I’ve been so thoroughly filled on the cheapness of Chipotle and sissy-hate that by the time we are asked to intake something important — like the rising infection rates of HIV in the gay community — we are in a food coma of the ridiculous. The information falls on deaf or annoyed ears.
It’s the symptom of the pop-up. As soon as you can skip it, you do. No matter what.
The problem with the article — or problems, of which there are many — is that it is essentially fluff and jargon. Making the assumption that tops are all masculine and bottoms are all feminine is playing into some weird gender binary of gay sexual identity. It’s like when your Nana asked your first boyfriend, “Who is the lady?” Your mother told her to shut up at the time, and the same advice should be applied to this article.
The rampant fetishization of masculinity and hierarchy is a subject to be discussed and analyzed, of course, but with openness and care that unfortunately this article doesn’t even attempt. I’m always a little suspect of being prescribed ideas about homosexuality, even by other homosexuals, and this article is prime example of why. When assumptions are made about my concerns and character based on what I like to do in bed, I get bristly. I’ve grown to expect that from the religious right, but when it comes from a “colleague,” I just get sad.
Sexuality and desire are areas of nuance and pliability. Did I expect this from a blog post on the Huffington Post? No. And especially from this sort of pop-up social commentary, but then I wonder: why do it? If you can’t go deep or intricate, why not at least try for insight? This article, in its twisting and turning mélange of buzzwords and failed jokes, leaves you with nothing but a burrito.
Always back to the burrito. Bottoms want to eat affordable Mexican food! And they can’t, because male patriarchy and disease transmission and a culture obsessed with heteronormative stereotypes won’t let them. So they sit alone crossed legged, unloved for their faggotry, and starving, as they wait for the results of yet another HIV test. Fingers crossed, too.
And the worst part is that I, as a top, am not supposed to know it. I am supposed to be unaware. Gay people don’t live like that. We are all thrown into it together. We know about the sex we have, the good and the bad. To presuppose that because a gay man desires to be a top that he has no idea about these subjects, or is separated from the rest of his community in dealing with them, is puerile and diminishes everyone involved.
But if it’s really all about Chipotle, I swear to bring burritos as a post-coital snack. I want to use my privilege for good.