Twink (gay slang)
Twink is gay slang for a young man in his late teens to early twenties whose traits may include: general physical attractiveness; little to no body or facial hair; a slim to average build; and a youthful appearance that belies an older chronological age.
The exact origins of the term twink are disputed. Some trace its first appearance to 1963, although it may be derived from an older British gay slang term twank, which means: "The quarry of a homosexual prostitute (male); a man willing and ready to become any dominant man's 'partner'". The Oxford Dictionary claims twink has origins in the 1970s.
Another possible origin of the term may be a derivation from the snack cake Twinkie, commonly regarded as the quintessential junk food: "little nutritional value, sweet to the taste and creme-filled". Cream is among the well-known food-related euphemistic terms for semen. The definition of twink has broadened, and qualifiers (such as muscle or femme) narrow the meaning to a more specific type of twink.
While its definition has broadened throughout the years, the gay identity and slang itself remains racially coded within normative society. John D'Emilio offers a critical examination of the structures promoted by the continuous introduction of Industrial Capitalism, which allowed people, specifically the white American male, to gain a semblance of autonomy in the 18th and 19th centuries. Having this in place then created space for subversive relationship models, sexual and otherwise, separating the nuclear family from its earlier purposes of survival and necessity, allocating freedoms to white men in order for them to pioneer a 'newly founded' identity politics.
Since twink, as examined here, is slang which emerged from gay identity politics, its predecessor set the tone for which it too would embody. As its suspected origins have confirmed, the definition itself is sexually charged and relies on "ageist, and racist tropes of youth and white desirability." In regards to the term, Susan Driver's epistemology finds that it is "a young white, and performed masculinity that can be fetishized, consumed. . . clearly coded in terms of race and age: white, young." Thus establishing the intersection for which race and age come together to create a hyper-sexualized denomination, often associated with sexual acts and the pornographic industry.
Twinks are often clean-shaven to emphasize a youthful, fresh-faced appearance. They are generally in their early 20s and slim, often with a boyish appearance. Some use the term to refer to those generally effeminate in nature, though this is not universal. The term has been used by bears and other gay men in a derogatory and pejorative manner. In some cases, it is a neutral descriptive term, and can be contrasted with bear. The term is often modified by various descriptors, e.g., femme twink, Euro twink and muscle twink. The term is used in the gay pornography industry.
A backronym has been constructed for twink according to which it stands for "'teenaged, white, into no kink", although these specified traits are not universally accepted as either necessary or sufficient to classify an individual as a twink.
In his book, Never Enough (2007), about a murder committed in 2003 in Hong Kong, described by the New York Times Book Review as hard-boiled clichés with a cartoonish first impression, Joe McGinniss describes a court case in which "twink" was defined as "a gay slang term used to denote an attractive, boyish-looking gay man between the ages of 18 and 22, slender ectomorph and with little or no body hair, often blond, often but not necessarily Caucasian."
Essayist Zeb J. Tortorici notes that gay twink porn thrives on the production and performance of "consumable and visually/anally receptive masculinity." A twink is "memorable for his outer packaging", not his "inner depth". Twink can be seen as a popular subgenre in gay porn widely consumed across the globe.
The term also serves to identify a subculture within gay culture for which members of the community may self-identify, but their stable assurance mostly comes from acceptance by other members. The subculture, as examined now, serves as a purely physical marker for attributes any one person may hold and/or acquire, highly dependent on normative society's take on beauty standards as a whole and what the community puts forth and prescribes to.
The popular dating app for gay men known as Grindr also utilizes the slang, in reference to "tribes" for users to "identify themselves with a niche group and filter their search to help find their type of guy."
Like other "codes", such as the bear code, the twink code is a set of symbols using letters, numerals, and other characters commonly found on modern, Western computer keyboards, and used for the describing and rating of twinks. These codes are used in email, Usenet, and Internet forum postings to identify the physical type and preferences of the poster, but have mostly fallen out of usage. The code includes: physical traits, such as "c" for color of hair (from blond to black); "l" for length of hair (from bald/clean-shaven to very long); "h" for degree of hairlessness; "y" for youthful appearance; and "e" for endowment; as well as personality traits, such as "q" for "queeniness;" and sexual preferences, such as "k" for "the kinky factor".
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