One of the most valuable insights I learned from studying sociology is that there is a big difference between what people say and what they do. Humans are complex, contradictory creatures whose behaviors evade simple explanations. Yet, more often than not, we opt for the simplicity of common sense ways of thinking because it’s comforting, and the alternative can be mentally exhausting.
Rembrandt Duran’s recent think piece on gay sex, while seemingly progressive at first glance, commits precisely this type of error by treating socially constructed identities as indisputable truths. A self-professed expert on the matter, Duran begins by informing readers that the time has come to talk about “top privilege.” Extending ideas about race made famous by Peggy McIntosh back in 1989–which have recently gained cultural traction with the rise of Black Lives Matter and other social movements–the author wants to make tops (i.e., insertive partners) aware of their social and cultural advantages in comparison with bottoms (receptive partners). But what exactly he wants tops to do with this political consciousness remains unclear.