Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 192–208 | Cite as

Sexy Media Dissidents: State Regulation, Dissidence, Pornography and Gay Men in Malaysia

  • Joseph N. GohEmail author
  • Ghislaine L. Lewis
  • Pauline P. Y. Leong
Original Paper


This paper considers the effects of media censorship and dissidence in Malaysia within the context of gay men and pornography, and how these oft-considered taboo subjects intersect within the society. Malaysia’s media landscape has revealed many flaws in the country’s political and social environment. The place of gay men and pornography within this media landscape is examined through interviews with gay Malaysian men. It frames the intersection of politics and private lives through the lenses of sociologist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas, feminist Carol Hanisch, psychologist Todd G. Morrison and sociologist Jeffrey Weeks. An analysis of selected interviews reveals that within the Malaysian media landscape, pornography surpasses the realm of pleasure, and is a form of dissent and discreet protest against the regulation of sexual lives. The stigmatisation of pornography and pervasive homophobic rhetoric has allowed these sexy media dissidents to perform new connections, foster self-awareness and move toward increasing political and sexual freedom and subjectivity.


Freedom of expression Gay men Malaysia Media dissidence Pornography 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Joseph N. Goh declares that he has no conflict of interest. Ghislaine L. Lewis and Pauline P. Y. Leong declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Arts and Social SciencesMonash University MalaysiaBandar SunwayMalaysia
  2. 2.Lynchburg CollegeLynchburgUSA
  3. 3.Sunway UniversityBandar SunwayMalaysia

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