We examine the lived experiences of transgender women in Australian men’s and women’s prisons. We draw on Alice Ristroph’s sexual punishments framework to discuss the diversity and ambiguities of sexual experiences reported by participants, and argue for a need to move beyond the dominant narrative of prison rape.
This article draws on data from a digital ethnography to identify a key paradox of Grindr, a gay hookup app. Despite the potential the app offers to invigorate public sex culture by circumventing increased policing of public spaces, users overwhelmingly use the app to arrange for sex to take place in the privacy of a home. Contemporary respectability politics in LGBTQ communities structures Grindr users’ reputation management practices as well as their perceptions of the purpose and potential uses of the technology. The porous public/private boundaries of the app allow users to navigate the stigma associated with promiscuity. "Respectable promiscuity" captures the negotiations individuals engage in as they enact stigmatized sexual practices, manage sexual reputations, and give meaning to their sexual practices within a specific socio-political context.
This article focuses on the role of sexuality and intimate relationships during women’s exit processes from drug abuse. Drawing from qualitative interviews with Swedish women the article explores how their sexual practice is played out both during drug use and in the new drug-free life situation. The conflictual transition process evolves around the individual’s attempts to adapt to various sexual scripts made available to them. An element of shame regarding past sexual experiences is enforced by a strong desire to create a new identity as ‘ordinary’. The safest option then is to abstain from sex even if it may lead to frustration and longing. To some, toning down sexuality is a welcome respite, to others a meaningless wait. Why does the beautiful, lovely sexuality never come?
Sex work has enjoyed a wealth of sociological interest over the last three decades. However, sexual pleasure experienced by women sex workers with their clients has been largely missing from the conversation. This article seeks to redress this gap by looking at the qualitative narratives of nine women who were working in sex work in Victoria, Australia in 2009. By viewing these narratives through Foucault’s power/knowledge/discourse nexus, together with his later work on ethics of care of the self, it posits that sex worker women draw on and resist various discourses around intimacy, performance, and pleasure in regards to their sex work and their personal lives. With this interplay in mind, the analysis supports the third feminist perspective that sex work is a complex space where dominant and subjugated discourses mingle to produce myriad experiences traversing the exploitation/empowerment binary represented by the feminist sex wars.
This article examines the controversy surrounding women’s sexual labor of dancing in the city of Mumbai in the western state of Maharashtra, India. Whereas much of the debate around the dance bars focuses on bar dancers’ livelihood and right to work, I turn the discussion to the realm of desire and consumption to show how intimate labor is connected to class aspirations. Using legal, media and cultural sources, I suggest that the intimate labor in dance bars produces new aspirations for bar dancers. These aspirations are made possible by the specific labor and exchange conditions and relational possibilities that are specific to the bars, illustrating what I call the aspirational politics of sex, where sexual labor acts as a site for individual existential pursuits such as social mobility and a sense of well-being. Dance bars offer young women from marginalized communities the opportunity for livelihood and social mobility as well as access to middle-class lifestyles through involvement in new consumer cultures but without the corresponding status or protection of being middle class. Additionally, by analyzing the politics around the ban on dancing in Mumbai, the article reveals the cultural conflicts inherent in sexual labor and illuminates an important arena where women can mobilize hegemonic discourses to serve their own interests and stretch the limits of their subordination.
This article explores the emergence of precarious work within the hostess industry of Los Angeles Koreatown, an ethnic enclave cited as a hotbed of sex trafficking. Hostesses provide companionship, flirtation, and entertainment to male patrons in drinking settings. While hostess work in Koreatown historically relied on indentured migrant workers from South Korea, the 2008 recession combined with shifting US immigration laws transformed the occupational structure of the hostess industry to a contingency-based labor system, which increasingly depends on the labor of local US women. These women turn to hostess work in Koreatown because of their displacement from jobs in the dominant US labor market. I argue that the emergence of precarious labor in Koreatown’s hostess industry reflects larger economic shifts within the labor market and political economy of Los Angeles. Looking at hostess work in Los Angeles Koreatown’s sexual economy provides a window to the labor instability of young women in the USA and across borders.
Ahmed is a young man working as a ‘professional boyfriend’ in the intimate economy surrounding the tourist industry in Sousse, one of Tunisia’s main tourist destinations on the Mediterranean coast. He and most of his friends and colleagues are also harraga, ‘burners’ in Arabic, a term describing young men burning their documents and yearning for Europe. By performing love to female tourists and by migrating as their spouses, young men in Tunisia embody late modern individualized and consumerist lifestyles, while providing for their families at home. They also embody their ‘mobile orientations’, a term I coined to refer to how migrants inhabit a desired subjectivity by entering the socially available arrangements of objects, discourses, mobilities and affective practices enabling their agency. For Ahmed and his peer group migration is not a possibility, but an existential necessity to become successful men according to the values set by the neoliberal social ontology. By analysing the forms of intimate labour and the mobile orientations they engage in, I problematize the presumption of exploitability of local people within public and academic debates about ‘sex tourism’. In this article I discuss the heuristic opportunities and predicaments posed by my auto ethnographic experience as a tourist who became an ethnographer and filmmaker. I also reflect on the choices I made while analyzing my ethnographic findings and editing my filmed material during post-fieldwork reflections.
Although recent scholarship focuses on the increasing significance of processes of standardization in contemporary social life, much less attention has been given to how standardization impacts intimate life, and how intimate standards are made meaningful in interaction. This article draws from participant observation in online transgender groups to examine how the medical standardization of transsexuality, known as the ‘wrong-body’ model, impacts the way users understand and communicate their gendered self. I show how rather than simply adopting the wrong-body model, participants use its language and logic in ironic and playful ways that carve out spaces for ways of knowing the self that feel authentically their own. This case shows how intimate standards become part of the language of the self in ways that may be unexpected.
This article uses ethnographic research to examine the intimate labor of South Korean middle-class women who volunteer in immigrant integration programs for migrant women entering South Korea via cross-border marriages. I show that volunteers participate in South Korea’s nation-building project under globalization as the "maternal guardians" of migrant women, thus challenging their own gender-based subordination while sustaining the racial and class hierarchy and the heteronormativity of the Korean nation. These women use intimate knowledge about migrant women as a medium to pursue respect in the face of gendered discontent and transform themselves as new global South Korean citizens.
This article explores contemporary photography and film works that highlight same-sex intimacy among female Southeast Asian migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong. My discussion expands upon feminist migration scholarship by examining how these projects document new migrant socialities and, further, how they invite reflection on the often transient intimacies they depict. As I show, the works render legible and validate sexual and romantic affiliations among migrant women that are commonly elided from their public representation. Yet the visual narratives move notions of intimacy beyond the frameworks of permanence, domesticity, and heteronormativity to interrogate how such framings intersect with concepts of good citizenship and market logics of privacy that foreclose the visibility of non-normative migrant socialities. What is more, by circulating "improper" images of migrant women's same-sex intimacies, the photography and film works mobilize alternative value economies through which the women's experiences are rendered legible without being made appropriable.
In the 1990s, a fascinating genre emerged: the virginity loss confessional genre, in which autobiographical stories of virginity loss are collected and curated. This article draws on the work of Michel Foucault and Kenneth Plummer to explicate the historical and theoretical bases behind this contemporary confessional storytelling practice, outlining the genre’s historical and therapeutic purposes. It also considers the significance of virginity loss and the relevance of these stories in the 21st century. It illustrates how and why virginity loss stories have been told in the past, and the reasons why publicly telling these stories has become a common practice in recent decades.
The experiences of polyamorous queer people highlights and extends existing questions around subjectivity and identity. This article examines a case study of three polyamorous and queer-identified women and their experiences and brings them into conversation with existing queer feminist scholarship theorizing subjectivity and happiness. In this analysis, I highlight the points of commonality and disjuncture in these women’s experiences and identities. By doing this, I am attentive to the available subject-positions for polyamorous people, their desires for sameness or commonality, and the ways that these desires are often disappointed.
Contemporary western societies are characterised by a new sexual permissiveness, within which sexualised culture has become normalised and mainstreamed. Situated in this new social landscape, and drawing on postfeminist and neoliberal discourses and dominant constructions of heterosexuality, this article critically examines the impact of these constructions on women’s sexual health in its broadest sense, encompassing physical, mental and social well-being. I argue that dominant discourses of heterosexuality are viewed through a postfeminist and neoliberal lens that both obscures the sexist nature of contemporary culture and transforms, repackages and feeds this sexism back to women as their own choice and as a representation of empowerment; and as such, contemporary constructions of women’s sexuality and bodies are deeply problematic, and pose serious risks to women’s sexual health. To address these issues, not only do we need to develop critical media literacy skills, but we also must open up spaces for collective action and push against the existing sexist culture to allow for alternative discourses and understandings to emerge.
BDSM (also known as kink) has been stigmatized through medicalization since the late 19th century. However, the recent publication of the DSM-5 has significantly changed the definition of Paraphilia, which used to be the catch-all diagnostic category for atypical sexual behaviors. In this study, I examined multiple sources of qualitative data to tap into the ever-changing social contexts and power dynamics of the medicalization and demedicalization of kink. The analyses of this study reveal how both activist strategies as well as approaches to social control evolve in the context of increasing reflexivity cultivated amidst sexual politics of the past few decades.
This article draws on the 26 June 2011 US embassy-sponsored Gay Pride parade in Islamabad, Pakistan alongside popular US visual cultural moments (2008–2012). I use visual culture to reread US intrigue in Pakistani queer subjects through specific images of terrorist/feminized masculinities – images that elucidate the conspicuous shifts in the technologies of power and sexuality in the context of contemporary Pakistani LGBT visibility. I move through popular US representations of Pakistan, Muslim masculinity and US LGBT visibility – all of which attempt to capture homoerotic desire (and dread) in the transnational landscape of sexuality-racial-gender politics and all of which, I argue, are embroiled in US national identity (and ‘security’). My analysis is two-pronged. First, I look closely and critically at the narrative and visual character of the knowledge the US has created around defining Pakistan and Pakistani (sexual) subjects. Second, I demonstrate that in Pakistan queer resistance is often produced and animated from below the state and articulated against US hegemonic practices of visibility and representation.
In the context of conflicts over Islam and multiculturalism, the acceptance and equal treatment of homosexuality have come to have an unprecedented centrality to Dutch politics. This article explains homosexuality's prominence in these debates as the effect of its ability to serve as a centrepiece of a critique of Dutch ‘consociational democracy’. It demonstrates how in the course of the 1990s a Dutch political culture of consensus, compromise and mutual accommodation became a frame for conflicts over multicultural society. Critics of multiculturalism blamed consociational democracy for both hampering the integration of immigrants into Dutch society and for preventing a debate about this putative failure to integrate. They argued for the introduction into a political culture, presumed to revolve around accommodation, of non-negotiable moral principles that were to unite the nation in its confrontation with cultures thought to be hostile to it. Secondly, the article examines how homosexuality increasingly became pivotal to such arguments through an analysis of a series of episodes in a continuous, similarly structured media narrative on homosexuality, Islam and consociational democracy. The article argues that homosexuality's central place in these narratives needs to be understood as resulting from its ability to represent the non-negotiable moral principles consociational democracy was thought to lack. Conceptualized as a given, unchanging truth about identity that open homosexuals unflinchingly presented to the world, homosexuality functioned as a metonym for the moral steadfastness and transparency that, in the eyes of its critics, a consociational political culture failed to produce.
This article locates itself within an emergent, counter-discursive body of scholarship that is critical of universalizing depictions portraying queer-identified or LGBT youth as vulnerable and ‘at-risk’ of a range of negative mental health outcomes, including self-harm and suicidality. Drawing on key findings from a large-scale, mixed-methods study exploring the mental health and well-being of LGBT people, we seek to contribute to the development of a more expansive understanding of LGBT lives by demonstrating the diverse ways people engage with their sexuality and gender identity and illuminating the complex meanings that those LGBT people who have experienced psychological and suicidal distress ascribe to their feelings, thoughts and actions.
This article represents the reflexive journey of one of six couples that launched a Constitutional Challenge to the definition of marriage. An account of our motivation for marriage deconstructs the experience from two disparate, yet shared, spaces. Using reflection and documentation, we explore multiple truths and realities of what the case, and the ‘right to marry’, meant to us: then, and now – 10 years later. In recounting our story, we expose the embodiment of risk taken by sexual minorities when engaging in activism and claiming heteronormative public spaces. Each with our own epistemological foundation, we explore the pitfalls and possibilities of marriage activism and consider its role as a space of queer liberation. Illustrating how the struggle for equal marriage is situated in the messy notion of what it means to be queer, we posit two narratives as a means of challenging dominant discourse. To research marriage as an objective ‘reality’ is to desexualize and depersonalize queer identity; an autoethnographic account claims the subjective sexual identity and facilitates a discussion of the nuances and complexities of queer lives and choices.
Given the vitriolic marriage debate, documenting and deconstructing our experience is an important element of queer history and praxis. Using reflexivity to explore our individual and collective perspectives and reflect upon how those experiences were shaped through intersection with family, friends, each other, community and society allows us to claim our insider positionality and challenge queer/straight binaries, force conversations about these binaries, and demonstrate how the personal is political.
While past studies have measured several indicators of relationship quality in relation to types of relationship agreement, most have not included polyamorous relationships, and have almost exclusively included samples of gay men. The purpose of this study was to address this gap by examining five dimensions of relationship quality and eight dimensions of relationship equity in a sexually diverse Canadian sample (N = 3463) across three types of relationship agreements (monogamous, open, and polyamorous). The data were collected online as part of a larger study. In order to compare relationship types on relationship dimensions, MANCOVAs were computed using age, relationship duration, cohabitation status, sex, sexual orientation, and an interaction term of sex and sexual orientation as control variables. High scores of relationship quality and equity were reported by the overall sample, and scores on all scales did not significantly differ by types of relationship agreements. Overall, these results strongly suggest that these types of relationship agreements are equally healthy viable options.
In this article, the author examines sexual violence against women during a period of mass social conflict and reflects on how this violence continues to affect sexual and political citizenship in modern Indonesia. The demonization and destruction of a particular group of Communist women, known as ‘Gerwani’, during the mass killings of 1965–1966 created an on-going, pathological discourse about politically active women as gendered and sexual ‘others’ in Indonesia. The reconfiguration of bodies through sexual violence during that period continues to shape gender ideology and sexual politics in Indonesia, particularly through the prescription of more traditional, heteronormative roles for women’s political participation. This negative association with sexuality and sexual violence affects the possibilities for women’s active citizenship in post-New Order Indonesia, and renders it difficult for women to claim sexual autonomy or sexual citizenship.
The term ‘sexual citizenship’ was largely developed in the Anglophone capitalist liberal democracies of the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The concept is thus inflected by broader understandings of politics in these places. In this article, the author first considers the specificities of ‘sexuality’ and ‘citizenship’ in these Anglophone capitalist liberal democracies. She argues that we need to provincialize these local understandings, for configurations of sexuality and citizenship in the UK, North America, New Zealand or Australia are just as contingent and locally specific as they are in the Asia-Pacific region. She then considers whether the term ‘sexual citizenship’ can be transplanted into places in the Asia-Pacific region with different political and economic systems, welfare systems and social structures, distinctive cultural understandings of sexuality and citizenship and different taxonomies of sexes, genders and sexualities.
Clause 13 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children have the right ‘to seek, receive or impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in art or in any other media of the child's voice’. However, there is one area in which this directive is constrained in various countries by domestic regulations curtailing children's access to information. That area is human sexuality. The arguments for and against children's access to sex education are well rehearsed. In this article, the author pursues a different angle, looking instead at the increasing restrictions placed upon young people's ability to imagine and communicate with each other about sexual issues, particularly in online settings. The advent of the internet and a range of social networking sites have not only enabled young people to access previously quarantined information about sexuality, but also to actively engage in forms of ‘intimate citizenship’ online. In this article, the author focuses on young people's online fan communities which use characters from popular culture such as Harry Potter or a range of Japanese manga and animation to imagine and explore sexual issues. ‘Child abuse publications legislation’ in Australia and elsewhere now criminalizes the representation of even imaginary characters who are or may only ‘appear to be’ under the age of 18 in sexual scenarios. Hence these children and young people are in danger of being charged with the offence of manufacturing and disseminating child pornography. Despite research into these fandoms that indicates that they are of positive benefit to young people in developing ‘sexual literacies’, there is increasingly diminishing space for young people under the age of 18 to imagine or communicate about sexuality, even in the context of purely fictional scenarios.
Representations of gender and sexuality in mainstream media operate to both shape the contours of, and contest the limits to, sexual citizenship. The ‘citational practices’ of media representations mould contemporary understandings of these limits. In this article, the author examines mainstream and social media reports of two separate same-sex wedding ceremonies in Japan; the first at a queer community event in 2007 and the second at a major theme park in 2013. Through citations and quotations, a multitude of voices are embedded in the media texts. In the 2007 case, increased media visibility is mitigated by citational practices that clearly mark the same-sex wedding as devoid of legal standing. Whereas media reports situate the 2013 ceremony in the context of marriage equality trends internationally, an instance of possible discrimination is emphasised as being a ‘misunderstanding’. Similarly, a microanalysis of a light news documentary of the ceremony uncovers citational practices that highlight the importance of ‘forgiveness’ or ‘tolerance’ for ‘mutual coexistence’ in society. Furthermore, the reporting confines the ceremony to a ‘fairytale’-like ‘foreign’ domain. The process of ‘othering’ issues of sexual citizenship is linked to a cyclical process since the 1950s wherein representations of queerness are posited as ‘new’ forms of being in Japan. Discourse surrounding sexual citizenship is thereby projected into a non-domestic, non-specific future time.
In this article, the author explores the challenges for sexual citizenship campaigns as same-sex marriage emerges as a touchstone for progressive politics in Australia and beyond. Analysing popular media and public debate, she argues that there is much to be learned from recent critiques of liberal and colonial feminisms. Jasbir Puar argues that the ‘woman question’ is currently being supplemented or supplanted by the ‘gay question’ as a marker of a nation’s modernity, democracy and ‘civilization’. In the context of widespread support for marriage equality, an urgent challenge is how to respond to an emerging ‘homonationalism’ in public culture which positions the West on ‘the right side of history’ in contrast to homophobic Islam, and a liberal version of gay rights which obscures ongoing discrimination and injustice.
In this article, the author explores some of the key dilemmas that are involved in attempts to apply concepts such as ‘sexual citizenship’ in a cross-cultural perspective, with particular focus on Australia and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The concept of sexual citizenship can usefully be applied to gay and lesbian rights issues in Australia relatively easily. However, it is not quite so easy to apply this concept to some of Australia’s Asian neighbours. Any comparative analysis needs to take differing priorities, conceptions of sexuality, gender, identity, rights, state and civil society into account but, nonetheless, useful insights can be gained. The author argues that the concept of sexual citizenship is even more widely applicable if aspects of other conceptions of citizenship are incorporated into it, such as conceptions of ‘heteronormative’ citizenship and ‘affective’ citizenship.
This article examines the representation of fatness in heterosexual hard-core pornography whilst exploring both the usefulness and potential limitations of applying Jean Francois Lyotard’s ideas about the ‘voluminous body’ to this topic. The article reflects critically upon the supposedly transgressive potential of the fat cis female body in adult entertainment and, using examples from BBW (Big Beautiful Women) pornography, reflects upon the ways in which the fat female form can generate a distinctive aesthetic vocabulary for the screening of sexual sensation – a vocabulary that lends itself to the representation of (supposedly) allusive non-phallic affects. Ultimately, however, the article expresses scepticism about the subversive possibilities of much BBW pornography, and urges against any reading of this material that positions it as inherently radical, disruptive, or queer.
Moving past conceptualizations of ‘mammy,’ this article discusses fat black female sexuality through experiences of black women in the plus size fashion world. I posit that these women, their clothing, and their bodies’ movement underneath their clothing, subvert previous notions of fatness, blackness and sexuality. By mapping a black feminist lens onto sexual script theory, I analyze in-depth interviews with plus size models, bloggers and designers to show that fat black women and their utilization of clothing both embody and reject mammy, regard sexuality as public and private enterprises of self-reclamation, and subscribe to and complicate cultural norms of fat black (a)sexuality.
Contextualized within the UK mediascape, this article discusses how fat signifies the classed failures of neoliberalism. Because class aspiration, entrepreneurialism and the myth of the competitive individual are pivotal to the political economy of neoliberalism, fat is increasingly and vehemently vilified as abject across media platforms. Fat-surveillance media, which are marketed specifically to women by their visuals, gendered community, language and structures of feeling, participate in a ‘gynaeopticon’ where the controlling gaze is female, and the many women regulate the many women. Rather than being a top-down form of governance and discipline such as in the panopticon, control is affectively devolved among systems or networks of the policing gaze. As well as monitoring women along the lines of class, I argue that these media circumscribe the de-individualizing possibilities and passions of the libido.
This article critically examines the way in which the reported sexual desire of black African men for fat women is contained and managed in South African media representations of fat. While sexual desire for fat women represents a potential challenge to the dominant framing of fat as diseased/dysfunctional/disgusting, the article shows how the reduction of this desire to one of two (racialized) ‘explanations’ – either evidence of racial primitivism or a (black male) strategy to avoid infection with HIV – emasculates the potentially powerful oppositional framing of fat as sexy. It is a mark of the dominant frame’s influence that it is capable of co-opting oppositional frames and recasting them in its own image. From the point of view of critiques of the fat-as-disease orthodoxy, the claim to the existence of an alternative norm of fat as sexually desirable in ‘black culture’ emerges as a problematic oppositional frame – saturated with raced assumptions in the way in which it is reported. The counter framing of the (black) fat body as sexually desirable is given column space to be derided and dismissed as an instance of deviant black sexuality, as a mistaken belief in need of ‘correction’, or it is subsumed under a medicalized frame as a strategy for the avoidance of disease rather than an expression of genuine sexual desire.
This article explores cinematic and televisual representations of fat male sexuality; rare in mainstream culture, the few depictions foreground abject embodiment to monstrous effect. From tabloid accounts of the Fatty Arbuckle rape trial to the grotesque Highlander Fat Bastard, fat male sexuality paradoxically doesn't exist and in existing, pollutes. This over-determined representation as monstrous and threatening yet simultaneously failed and incapable points to the semiotic threat of fat masculinity: in a system where fat embodiment is marked as feminine, the fat maleness that refuses to occupy the position of feminized, passive quasi-male, reveals the simplicity of gender categories as cultural fictions.
In the context of the obesity ‘epidemic’ fat people’s sex lives are cast as sterile, sexually dysfunctional or just plain non-existent. This article analyzes medical discourses of obesity and sex in order to argue that fat sex is constructed as a type of failure. Using insights from antisocial queer theory, fat sex is further shown to be queer in its failure to adhere to the specifically heteronormative dictates of what Edelman (2004) calls ‘reproductive futurism’. The analysis finally engages with Halberstam’s (2011) notion of queer failure to demonstrate how deconstructing notions of success and failure might offer fat political projects new ways to imagine the future of fat sex.
In this article, we explore women’s accounts of consensual but unwanted sex, and how these accounts connect to feigning sexual pleasure. Interviews were conducted with 15 women and we employed a discursive analytic approach to examine the data. All women used discursive features (e.g. negation, hedging) to situate at least one of their past sexual experiences as problematic although all avoided the use of explicit labels such as rape or coercion. Furthermore, women commonly faked orgasm as a means to end these troubling sexual encounters. We argue the importance of considering women’s accounts of ‘problem’ sex so these experiences are not dismissed.
The concept of homonationalism has proven useful to analyse the political problematization of LGBTI human rights in the UK. This article analyses discourses on LGBTI asylum in the UK, and focuses in particular on the relationship between liberalism, nationhood and hospitality. Using the methods of discourse analysis it demonstrates that, with asylum, queerness becomes a porous frontier in and out of the nation. Looking firstly at narratives of asylum cases, the article shows how they create a specific temporality, where queer futures are deemed impossible outside of the UK. Then, it looks at how the tropes of the domestic homophobic past and the homophobic elsewhere interact in discourses to produce a unique type of politicization of asylum, whereby British liberal queers can be invested in defending the rights of LGBTI asylum seekers. Finally, the article unpacks what constitutes the promise of ‘happy queer futures’ in the UK. Doing so, it shows that homonationalism is more than a collusion between certain gay and lesbian subjectivations and the liberal state, but rather that it provides complex ways of understanding and articulating sexuality, nationhood and homonormative practices. The article will thus argue that happiness works as an exhortation as much as a promise in asylum, and that the queer futurism offered by homonationalist discourses on asylum perpetuate a dream of the good life – albeit a homonormative conception of it, where happiness, individual freedom and autonomy on the market are closely intertwined.
In 2012 Amsterdam Gay Pride Canal Parade hosted a Turkish Boat, organized by Dutch citizens of Turkish decent. The newspaper articles consistently emphasized what an advancement this was for the Turkish migrants, considering their ‘cultural background.’ Simultaneously, public opinion on the former immigrants from Turkey and Morocco as intolerant towards LGBTI people and how they are ‘gay bashing on the streets’ was still present. The scholarship on homonationalism and gay imperialism has been dealing with questions of Orientalism, islamophobia and racism since the 2000s. The question of agency within this scholarship, however, was not dealt with extensively. This paper will engage with this question by mapping out Dutch homonationalism and focusing on how this specific context produces historically contingent subject positions – such as gay, lesbian, Muslim, Turkish or Moroccan-Dutch – that are hierarchized within the Dutch public sphere. None of them is innocent of power or neutral, the power configuration among these subject positions lay the ground of agency upon which the subject can act.
Tel Aviv’s Gay-Center is unique in Israel for being sponsored, managed and controlled by the municipality. This article focuses on the Gay-Center as a material, symbolic and discursive space in order to clarify the relationship between LGBT individuals and the nation. Based on an ethnographic study, we show that since its establishment the Gay-Center has undergone centralization processes as a result of being located in central Tel Aviv and by striving for LGBT mainstreaming, thereby accelerating the achievement of sexual citizenship and urban belonging. However, the expansion of sexual citizenship, which is always based on processes of inclusion and exclusion, reveals homonational practices and homonormative discourses. Since being in the city is the easiest and, at times, the only way to earn sexual citizenship, we argue that LGBT urban citizenship is an indication, a marker and thus a prerequisite of homonationalism.
Gay-friendliness and gender equality have been taken as signs of modern Western superiority over other cultural spheres and geographical spaces, particularly those of the Muslim world. In a similar manner, the promotion and defense of gay rights has become the crucible of othering discourses in relation to Africa. Across different cultural and national spaces, the meanings of citizenship, nationalism, modernity, colonialism and sovereignty are being negotiated in debates about anti-homosexuality on the continent. The focus of this article is the politics of mapping anti-homosexuality legislation in Africa in Swedish daily newspapers. Drawing on the work of Jasbir Puar and other feminist and queer scholars theorizing race and sexuality in relation to processes of nation-building, the authors analyze the mapping of the regulation of homosexuality in Africa as an instance of imaginative geographies. They investigate how journalistic rhetoric about homophobia on the African continent in Swedish daily newspapers relies on a politics of homonationalism and sexual exceptionalism in ‘gay liberation’ discourses.
In this paper, I demonstrate that the adjudication of sexual orientation asylum is one of the processes made possible under what Jasbir Puar calls homonationalism. I make an analytical distinction between cases that employ a narrative of ‘the homosexual’ versus other less (homo)normative sexual identities. In the asylum system ‘the homosexual’ is a unitary and fixed identity characterized by visibility, coherence and linearity. These features, notably, are consistent with a homonormative identity construction, which privileges white, Western, gay male sexual politics. My analysis indicates that applicants that can adopt the narrative of ‘the homosexual’ have greater success than applicants’ identities that are not easily encapsulated by this single narrative. Moreover, applicants must also show an infliction of bodily harm to signify a need for asylum; the treatment of their bodies in their country of origin must vary significantly from the protection that the United States purports to offer.
This article utilizes gay adult film as a means to understand the commodities generated through intimate labor. It offers a new concept, intimate commodities, in order to understand what, in addition to intimacy, is produced through intimate labor. Intimate commodities are material objects that are generated in conjunction with intimate labor, which are then traded or sold, and through their utilization generate intimate ties between individuals and themselves, other persons, or groups. Through ethnography and a survey of men who perform in the gay adult film industry, this study explores how the stratification of the conditions of production influence the commodities themselves, their use, and how, through their circulation, they may perpetuate inequalities. This conceptualization calls for increased attention to the illusory divide between productive and reproductive labor.
Sexuality in the Family Planning Program (FPP) has been largely overlooked, even though the practice of birth control is inextricably connected with procreative behavior. Focusing on the sexuality discourse of the FPP in South Korea, this article examines the process of constructing an intimacy sphere and making modern families in a non-western society. The FPP was adopted as national policy and implemented by the military junta during the repressive dictatorship in the 1960 and 1970s. However, contrary to the public perception of FPP as a coercive intervention into people’s personal lives, the FPP took a critical stance regarding the repression of sexuality and stressed the pleasurable aspect of sexuality, disconnecting it from procreation and associating it with love. By analyzing this unexpected aspect, this article highlights that the emphasis on the association of sex, love and marriage was a western concept ushered into the modern Korean family in a postcolonial context. Women’s sexual desire was justified and encouraged—but conversely, women’s autonomy became bound to a sexual dimension and embedded in the marital relationship as the core of the South Korean ‘modern’ family.
This article uses British diver and homosexual celebrity Tom Daley as a case study to examine instances of homosexual stereotyping on LGBT internet forum the DataLounge. Through textual analysis, I consider the anonymous discourse relating to Daley in terms of its representational implications. Of interest is how Daley is constructed through this discourse and what such constructions have to tell us about views on homosexuality and a particular well-known homosexual subject. I argue that Daley is objectified and aligned with certain stereotypes within this dedicated homosexual forum via the anonymous comments made about his profession, his body and mannerisms, and his personal life. I nominate certain ‘themes’ to make sense of this discourse, namely: the ‘dancer body’, the bottom, the slut, and the daddy’s boy. In addition to offering insight into how a particular homosexual celebrity is constructed through discourse by his own community, these themes also point to the pressures gay men feel to conform to ‘ideals’, and the consequences of nonconformity, of being a ‘failed representation’ (also known as a ‘stereotype’).
This article reports on the results of a study on men who pay for sex across Ireland. In presenting a detailed picture of the diverse group of sex workers’ clients, their motives and attitudes, we debunk the prevalent stereotypes about men who pay for sex, as continuously used in the public discourse about sex work on both sides of the Irish border: we show that the majority of clients do not fit the image of violent, careless misogynists. We argue that these debates about commercial sex as well as the experiences of those who pay for sex are shaped and nurtured by the specific local context, by conservative Christian morals and the dominant sex-negative culture across Ireland. Finally, we argue that the criminalization of paying for sex which came into effect in Northern Ireland in 2015 and is being discussed in the Republic of Ireland will likely not stop the majority of clients from paying for sex and thus fail to achieve its aim to reduce or abolish sex work.
Hook-up websites and apps are said to be transforming the sexual lives of gay men and have been linked with the apparent erosion of gay publics as the basis for identity politics and social action. This article examines these dynamics in the interview and focus-group talk of gay men living on the economic and geographical margins of metropolitan gay culture. It offers perspectives on the importance of location – class, generation and space – for the experience of digital media, the negotiation of safety, and the new codifications and elaborations on sex with the (non) stranger; a figure who is not alien, yet not familiar, in sexual sociality. Reflecting on these situated perspectives in connection with debates on the erosion of gay publics, this article argues against monolithic framings of gay men’s sexual lives after digital media.
This article explores contraceptive decision-making for women with learning disabilities. It sets the historical context of reproductive control by highlighting former practices which overtly aimed to prevent women with learning disabilities from conceiving. This is contrasted with a current legislative framework that strongly endorses the human and reproductive rights of women with learning disabilities. The article presents findings from a small-scale, UK-based survey that invited third parties involved in supporting women with learning disabilities with contraceptive decision-making to share their views and experiences. The survey indicated apparent continuities in practice, showing that key decisions over contraceptive care are often made by other people and not by women themselves. The increasing evidence of a gap between policy and practice is explored; this suggests a need for further research, including studies to explore the experiences of women with high support needs where there may be particular issues in relation to the management of menstruation, decision-making and capacity to consent.
The complexities of dating are exacerbated when couples’ getting together happens with the support of another person – the disability support worker. This paper explores the experience of Vic, a worker whose role it was to drive a couple to their dinner or movie dates. Vic’s narrative prompts consideration of how such workers position themselves within the sometimes conflicting role demands of enabler, risk manager, and mentor, negotiating the emotion work and relationship mediation roles they may be expected to perform. His narrative reveals the event as a performance of normalization, surveillance, management and othering, emotion work and feeling rules, and recognition.
The purpose of this qualitative case study research was to explore how adults with mild intellectual disabilities (ID) live out their social-sexual lives. Findings revealed the importance of both physical and emotional pleasure to five adults with ID. Research and educational efforts with this population have focused largely on reproduction and abuse prevention, emphasizing safety over the possibilities of human connectedness. Data sources included observations and a series of interviews. Findings in five areas – sensuality, intimacy, sexual experience, sexual attitudes, and sexual self-identity – demonstrate the richness of data that can be obtained with this population using qualitative research. Participants’ own words about their social-sexual lives are poignant, mirroring core social work pillars: self-determination and strengths perspective. Discussion includes recommendations for ways that social workers, as well as, sexuality and disability professionals can support individuals’ quality of life by addressing sexual pleasure as a key component of sexual health services.
For this paper, emotional and socio-political questions lie at the heart of relationships in understanding intellectual disability and what it is to be a human. While the sexual and intimate is more often than not based on a private and personal relationship with the self and (an)other, the sexual and intimate life of intellectually disabled people is more often a ‘public’ affair governed by parents and/or carers, destabilizing what we might consider ethical and caring practices. In the socio-political sphere, as an all-encompassing ‘care space’, social intolerance and aversion to difficult differences are played out, impacting upon the intimate lives of intellectually disabled people. As co-researchers (one intellectually disabled and one ‘non-disabled’), we discuss narratives from a small scale research project and our personal reflections. In sociological research and more specifically within disability research it is clear that we need to keep sex and intimacy on the agenda, yet also find ways of doing research in a meaningful, caring and co-constructed way.
In intellectual disability services, women’s sexuality has long been considered a problem, with women being removed from their residences and segregated from men as a form of protection. This paper draws on ethnographic research based on a secure unit for people with intellectual disabilities in England. It suggests that staff and clients are concerned about the client mix on the unit, and that staff feel protective towards women service-users. Physical contact on the wards is highly regulated and all spaces are described as ‘public’, therefore women are not afforded privacy to explore their sexuality. During interviews, many of the women disclosed experiences of childhood sexual abuse and some were unsure about their sexual orientation. This paper argues that life on the locked ward positions intellectually disabled women as both sexually vulnerable and as fundamentally asexual. This prevents women from learning the skills needed to make informed choices about sexual partners.
Within contemporary policy documents regarding intellectual disability and sexuality we often find a progress narrative that contrasts a dark past, when the sexuality of disabled people was suppressed, with an enlightened present, when we recognize the sexual rights of all human beings. In this paper – which pertains to the Republic of Ireland – I take up the Foucauldian and Deleuzian position of treating such progress narratives with suspicion. From this perspective, I offer an alternative reading of the treatment of intellectual disability and sexuality in the present, and I seek to map just some of the subtle but effective ways this population’s sexuality continues to be controlled today.
This article discusses how staff at a gay adult film studio produce a local form of hegemonic masculinity to which adult film performers are held accountable, requiring performers to orient their gender strategies in specific ways to obtain employment. These findings contribute to understandings of how hegemonic masculinity is embodied, racialized, and sexualized at work in ways that subordinate femininity while affording privileges to those who meet these criteria. I conclude with a discussion of how this local form relates to regional hegemonic forms, implications for the workplace experiences of marginalized men, and how gay adult film studios may be complicit in the domination of gay and effeminate men.
This study investigated whether elements of Social Identity Theory (SIT) and Self-Categorization Theory (SCT) appropriately described experiences of bisexual people in terms of accurately predicting the effect of self-stereotyping on well-being. Previous research has indicated that self-stereotyping is protective for members of marginalized groups. This study manipulated prototypicality, or self-stereotyping, to determine whether it affected well-being for bisexual-identified people. Forty-two bisexual participants were told either they were a strong or weak representation of a prototypical bisexual person, after which several well-being measures were taken. Female participants reported significantly higher levels of negative affect in the high prototypic group, indicating SIT and SCT may not operate the same way for bisexuality as they do for other social identities.
The last decade has seen significant change in LGBT-Q politics in many (neo)liberal democracies. In Ireland, Civil Partnership (CP) was signed into law in 2010. While LGBT-Q advocacy groups had been divided over the terms of CP, they presented a united front in favour of marriage and in May 2015, Ireland became the first country in the world to vote in favour of same-sex marriage in a constitutional referendum. This article begins from a personal moment as I sat in a television audience where a polarized debate – mainstream ‘progressive’ Left in favour of marriage equality versus ‘conservative’ religious Right against – ensued. It draws on interviews with five advocates in LGBT-Q politics and an analysis of print media related to CP and marriage from January 2010 until January 2014. This article inquires into the discourses and decision-making as CP and marriage emerged. It is anchored by the work of Michel Foucault, Judith Butler and others, focusing on the concepts of discourse, truth, normalization and equality. I demonstrate how the advocates adopted a politics of pragmatism and employed integrative, assimilationist strategies in line with consensus politics. I show how these approaches played their part in foreclosing radical sexual politics or broader kinship discussions. The article asserts that the advocates were motivated by how CP/marriage had the potential to achieve ‘real life’, large-scale cultural change through normalization. However, I demonstrate how mobilizing a politics of change based on normalization and sameness simultaneously (re)produces an ‘acceptable’ sexual citizen and reassigns ‘others’ as peripheral.
It has been shown that street sex work is problematic for some communities, but there is less evidence of the effects of brothels. Emerging research also suggests that impact discourses outlined by residential communities and in regulatory policies should be critiqued, because they are often based on minority community voices, and limited tangible evidence is used to mask wider moral viewpoints about the place of sex work. Using a study of residents living in close proximity to brothels in Blackpool, this article argues that impact is socially and spatially fluid. Impact needs to be evaluated in a more nuanced manner, which is considerate of the heterogeneity of (even one type of) sex work, and the community in question. Brothels in Blackpool had a variety of roles in the everyday socio-spatial fabric; thus also questioning the common assumption that sex work only impacts negatively on residential communities.
The essay contributes to Cultural Studies as an evaluation of changing practices of media and social activism while highlighting theories of feminism and dialogic aesthetics. More specifically, it discusses women’s use of online self-photography as a protest medium and a platform for feminist activism within two distinctive protest movements, the Umbrella Movement of Fall 2014 and the mainland Chinese feminist movement of 2012–2013. Forerunners of these movements in mainland China can be found in the work of performance artists and sex bloggers such as Ye Haiyan and Muzimei, who have used bulletin board systems and blogs to lay bare their sex lives and the cultural mechanisms of misogyny. Their performances in public spaces and their online postings have also elicited public brawls and significant responses within governmental agencies (Farrer, 2007; Tong, 2011).
The article posits that these discourses also have a historical lineage in the ‘light’ or ‘fleeting’ dissident writings of the Cultural Revolution that generated large-scale responses but did not aim at becoming earnest or solidified works of art (Voci, 2010). In this vein, nudity is employed to titillate and stir fellow netizens rather than offering a coherent and embodied stance. It offers flippant gestures and statements that come to signify ideology within online social movements.
Based on 22 in-depth interviews and 14 months of participant observation, this article explores collective identity among Latina lesbians who participate in a social group herein referred to as Latinas Unidas. It addresses the layers of belonging Latinas Unidas maintain according to sexual morality. The author notes that the sexually moral (lesbiana seria) identity to which group members adhere allows them to resist dominant portrayals of themselves as hypersexual, promiscuous beings. Still, in developing this identity, Latinas Unidas members create a charmed circle around their group and distance themselves away from other sexually nonconforming women who do not uphold their values of sexual morality.
This article explores Hijra communities, attempts to understand what it means to take on the Hijra role, and describes the process involved in becoming a Hijra. It is based on an ethnographic study of the Hijras living in Delhi, India and investigates the birth of a Hijra as a social body. The Hijra community has always been on the fringes of society, dwelling in abject poverty and excluded from the process of normalization. Being victims of various forms of prejudices and intolerance, the Hijra community lives in fear and isolation, often in clandestine, ghettoized locations. The problems confronting these groups of people have not been adequately explored, primarily as a result of the hidden nature of the community. By addressing exclusionary practices, the article draws out intersections between identity politics and the reproduction of social difference triggered by existing inequalities and inequities of class, gender and sexuality.
Engaging with the story of whistleblower Chelsea Manning, this article reveals how the incorporation of transgender subjects into assimilationist politics, idealized by narratives of a ‘US sexual exceptionalism’ (
A vast body of research has, following Foucault, shown the scientific study of sexuality to be central to the construction of modernity and its Others, and to biopolitical categories of personhood and citizenship. Similarly, much historical work has acknowledged the critical role of the Eastern European Other in imagining the modern European West. Yet while representations of sexuality were critical to Eastern Europe’s invention, and have been increasingly visible elements of re-emerging European "neo-orientalisms," there has been little scholarly concern with how such symbolic and political hierarchies were constructed through the historical intersections of ethnographic and sexual scientific practice, or with this history’s biopolitical implications. This paper examines the intersection of several such sexual-scientific imaginings. Focusing on the conjuncture between Hungarian scholar Géza Róheim’s psychoanalytic interpretations of European folklore and non-European ethnography, Sigmund Freud’s orientalizing construction of the key psychoanalytic concept of "phobia," and scholarly analyses of postsocialist sexual politics, I argue that these intersecting scientific works joined evolutionist understandings of culture to theories of universal psychic development to read Eastern Europe as a site of psycho-sexual and civilizational immaturity, producing mutually-reinforcing narratives that fabricated Eastern European sexuality as a biopolitical marker of European difference. These overlapping sexual geotemporalities, I suggest, continue to inform current scholarly interpretations of postsocialist homophobia, (re)producing both Hungary and Eastern Europe as naturalized sites of homophobia, primitivity, and failed sexual citizenship, and rendering hegemonic the status of the region and its inhabitants as sexual Others of "European" modernity. By fabricating postsocialist homophobia as a scientific "fact," such layered discourses sustain the biopolitical boundaries of modern European citizenship.