Austerity measures undertaken by governments as a result of economic crisis have driven young men to become spornosexual and to seek value instead through their bodies, says a study.
Spornosexuality which is a fusion of “sports star” and “porn star” was coined in July 2014 and pointed out the rise of men attending the gym primarily for reasons of appearance, rather than for health or fitness.
The findings showed that young men are increasingly striving for a gym-fit, photo-perfect bodies to create a social media brand. “Austerity has eroded young men’s traditional means of value-creation so they have become increasingly reliant on their bodies as a means of feeling valuable in society,” Jamie Hakim, Lecturer at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, England said.
The rise of men going to the gym and sharing images of their worked-out bodies began around 2008, which saw a global financial crash, the researchers said. “There is a correlation between the rise of young men fashioning muscular bodies and sharing them online, and the austerity measures experienced by their generation,” Hakim said adding, “in theoretical terms, so-called ‘spornosexuality’ is an embodied response to material changes brought about by neoliberal austerity.” Further, along with young men building a social media brand based around their worked-out bodies, they were similarly savvy about marketing themselves through social media. In addition, men who regularly used the gym and built a social media “brand” were found to talk about the importance of peer response to the images they circulated. “They continue to addictively pursue these fitness goals because the joys of accumulating spornosexual capital are one of the few remaining for young men in post-crisis austerity economy,” Hakim said.
For the study, the team examined data from Sport England — a funding agency for grassroots sport — that showed a significant year-on-year increase in the amount of 16 to 25-year-old British men attending the gym between 2006 and 2013. A study by Nielsen — a market research company — showed that sales of sports nutrition products that are used to strip body fat and build muscle increased by 40 per cent in Britain’s 10 largest supermarkets.
Moreover, the spornosexuality trend was also found to consume both print and digital media that relates to body building. Fitness-related hashtags on social media sites numbered in the multi-millions, said the paper published in the Journal of Gender Studies.