We’ve all seen it. From TV shows to movies to documentaries, from comedies to heavy dramas and even true stories, sex is often a dark yet deeply engrained part of prison culture.
You might naturally recoil at the subject or prefer not to think about it; with so many taboos involved, who could blame you? When we think about prison, we inherently address topics of racism and classism—incarcerated America, these issues are too hard to separate. But the subject also brings thoughts of homophobia and abuse to mind. Clearly, it isn’t a pleasant topic to address.
And yet this is a reality. For those who have watched any movie or show about prison, such as HBO’s recent series The Night Of, the sexual aspect of prison culture represents both manipulation and necessity, self-protection and self-loathing. For many, this unspoken reality causes more fear than prison itself; for others, it is just another part of the routine behind bars.
While our mind might go to nonconsensual relations in prison, that isn’t always the case. Former prisoners shared their stories about sex behind bars, and many times, these same-sex, non-homosexual acts were simply a means to get by.