Austerity: A Cause Which Turns Men To Turn Into 'Spornosexuals'


In the summer of 2014, there was a media flurry about what cultural commentator Mark Simpson succinctly described as the rise of the “spornosexual.” A portmanteau of "sports," "porn," and "metrosexual," spornosexuals are men who go to the gym in order to share eroticised images of their toned bodies on social media.

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Spornosexuality can be made sense of as a response to the effects of austerity on the lives of young men since 2008.

Although media interest in spornosexuals was first sparked in 2014, there is strong evidence to suggest that more young men have been seriously working on their bodies and then posting images on social media for far longer. According to the Active People Survey, one of the largest rises in participation in any type of sports among a particular demographic, between 2008 and 2014, was 16- to 25-year-old men going to the gym.

In 2009, Men’s Health magazine became the bestselling title in the men’s magazine market, shipping nearly twice as many print editions as its nearest competitor, GQ.

In 2014, sports nutrition products also increased their supermarket sales by 40 percent. And we’re all familiar with men who post selfies of their muscular torsos on Facebook and Instagram. There are now literally millions of these images shared across the internet.

Historically white, male, middle class, straight men have been able to use their minds and not their bodies in order to become valuable in Western culture – and they were employed has high-paid decision makers.

In contrast, ethnic minority, female, working class, trans and queer people have generally had to rely on their bodies in their working lives – in manual, domestic, reproductive or slave labor, or even sex work.

Belonging to a social group whose value is defined through the body is generally a sign of your subordination, which explains why so many young British men have recently begun to pay attention to their bodies in such spectacular ways.

In an economic climate in which the opportunity for young men to become high-paid decision makers has become more out of reach, many have turned to working on their bodies in order to feel valuable.

The most striking thing about the interviews was how much hard work was involved and how little they felt they got in return.

They worked hard not only in the gym and on their diets, supplement and steroid regimes, but also on maintaining the online brand they were building around their Instagrammable bodies.

During the interview, some men said none of it “equates to anything really for the future, for building yourself as a person, or obtaining a house or a car or clothes or any sort of lifestyle.” But they kept on working out anyway.

Because it is one of the few ways, during austerity, these young men can feel valuable at all. Although people accept it, "spornosexuality" has recently taken its place in our lives as one of the social media diseases.

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