#AAG2017 – (De)Stigmatising Sexscapes: Politics, Policy and Performance (Boston, USA)

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We (Paul Maginn and Erin Sanders-McDonagh) are pleased to announce our special session at this year’s AAG annual meeting, which is part of the Mainstreaming Human Rights in Geography and the AAG featured theme and also sponsored by the Sexuality and Space Specialty Group.  Please find below the session details and paper titles but I am also taking this opportunity to promote the fantastic new book by Erin: Women and Sex Tourism Landscapes (published by Routledge) which compares female tourists’ interactions in highly sexualised spaces in Thailand and the Netherlands.   Feel free to ask Erin about this during our sessions!

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1606.   (De)Stigmatising Sexscapes: Politics, Policy and Performance I: Porn, Pleasure & Performance (Sponsored by Sexuality and Space Specialty Group)
Room: Room 107, Hynes, Plaza Level  (Paper Session)

Wednesday April 5th, 4:40 pm – 6:20 pm


ORGANIZER(S): Paul J. Maginn, University of Western Australia; Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire; Erin Sanders-McDonagh, Middlesex University
CHAIR(S): Paul J. Maginn, University of Western Australia

4:40  Gemma Commane, Dr*, Birmingham City University, Kinktrepreneurship and social media: debates, rights and female subjectivity.
5:05  Joanne Bowring*, Liverpool John Moores University, Stigma in the UK Adult Film Industry.
5:30  Jennifer Heineman, PhD*, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Performing the Whore, Performing the Academic.
5:55  Emily Meyer, Esq.*, University of Cincinnati, The Cam Model: Kinship, Community, and Intimacy.

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2106.   (De)Stigmatising Sexscapes: Politics, Policy and Performance II: 2. Rights, Wrongs and Regulations (Sponsored by Sexuality and Space Specialty Group)
Room: Room 107, Hynes, Plaza Level  (Paper Session)

Thursday April 6th, 8:00 am – 9:40 am


ORGANIZER(S): Paul J. Maginn, University of Western Australia; Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire; Erin Sanders-McDonagh, Middlesex University
CHAIR(S): Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire

8:00  Laura Graham*, Durham University, The Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry on Prostitution: Is the time ripe for a Human Rights based approach to sex work?
8:25  Emilia Ljungberg*, Karlstad University, The smiling face of the emotional state.
8:50  Elena Shih*, Brown University; Christine Shio Lim, Brown University; Jordan Rubin-McGregor, Brown University; Imani Herring, Brown University, Building a Movement Against Sex Work in Rhode Island: Anti-Trafficking and Academic Industrial Complexes.
9:15  Billie M Lister, Doctor*, Leeds Beckett University, Time for change? : Indoor sex workers experiences of working under quasi-criminalisation in England and Wales and their ideas for legislative change.

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2206.   (De)Stigmatising Sexscapes: Politics, Policy and Performance III: 3. Governance, Policing and Design (Sponsored by Sexuality and Space Specialty Group)
Room: Room 107, Hynes, Plaza Level  (Paper Session)

Thursday April 6th, 10:00 am – 11:40 am


ORGANIZER(S): Paul J. Maginn, University of Western Australia; Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire; Erin Sanders-McDonagh, Middlesex University
CHAIR(S): Gemma Commane, Birmingham City University

10:00  Nicole Kalms*, Monash University, Sex Shop / Pole Dance / Street Work: Heteronormative Architectures of the Neoliberal City.

10:25  Erin Sanders-McDonagh*, University of Kent, Pushing sex work to the margins: The sanitization of Red Light Districts in Amsterdam and London.

10:50  Paul J. Maginn*, University of Western Australia; Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire, On-street, Off-street, And Online: The Dynamic Liminalities Of Sex Work.

11:15  Alison Better*, Kingsborough Community College, CUNY, Constructing Space and Community for Sexual and Gender Exploration at Sex Toy Boutiques

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2406.   (De)Stigmatising Sexscapes: Politics, Policy and Performance IV: 4. Production, Consumption and Reflection (Sponsored by Sexuality and Space Specialty Group)
Room: Room 107, Hynes, Plaza Level  (Paper Session)


ORGANIZER(S): Paul J. Maginn, University of Western Australia; Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire; Erin Sanders-McDonagh, Middlesex University
CHAIR(S): Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire

Thursday April 6th, 1:20 pm – 3:00 pm

1:20  Yo-Hsin Yang*, Negotiating/resisting stigma of sexscapes: gay men’s sex moral performances on tour.

1:40  Victor Trofimov*, European University Viadrina, From commercial sex to homonormativity: changing landscape of male street sex work in Berlin.

2:00  Katharine Parker*, Northumbria University, Public Sex Environments in Contemporary Sexscapes: A Case Study from North East England.

2:20  Nick McGlynn*, University of Brighton, Too Fat, Too Thin, Just Right?: Stigmatised Bodies in Bear Spaces.

2:40  Philip Birch*, Western Sydney University, Prostitution and Procuring Sexual Services: Why men buy sex .

____________________________________________________________________________________________2506.   (De)Stigmatising Sexscapes: Politics, Policy and Performance V: 5. Mobilities, Immobilities and Boundaries (Sponsored by Sexuality and Space Specialty Group)
Room: Room 107, Hynes, Plaza Level  (Paper Session) 

Thursday April 6th, 3:20 pm – 5:00 pm


ORGANIZER(S): Paul J. Maginn, University of Western Australia; Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire; Erin Sanders-McDonagh, Middlesex University
CHAIR(S): Erin Sanders-McDonagh, Middlesex University

3:20  Rachel Wotton*, Sex workers who provide services to clients with disability.

3:45  Alison J. Lynch, J.D., M.A.*, Associate Instructor, Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates, Sexuality, Disability and the Law: Beyond the Last Frontier?

4:10  Bella Robinson*, CoyoteRI; Elena Shih, Brown University, Policing Modern Day Slavery: Sex Work and the Carceral State in Rhode Island.

4:35  Laura Connelly, Dr*, University of Salford, Caring for and controlling the subaltern body: Politics, policy and practice within a rescue industry.

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I will be hopefully writing up a blog post after the sessions as usual for those who cannot make it.  Please follow the hashtag #geosex17 and #aag2017 for live tweets!

Bothered by a brothel? How sex work can improve your neighbourhood

Paul Maginn (@planographer) and I recently wrote this article in The Conversation – read the full version here – based on my doctoral research.  You can find more information about the project in this article: http://sex.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/05/27/1363460715616949.abstract

Bothered by a brothel? How sex work can improve your neighbourhood

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Dr Emily Cooper (University of Central Lancashire)
Assoc. Prof. Paul Maginn (University of Western Australia)

The sex industry, specifically sex work and prostitution, has long been perceived and regulated as a “dirty and disorderly” feature of residential communities. The stereotypical, and unfair, view of sex workers is that they are vectors of disease and social contagions; it’s a moral hangover from the Victorians.

Regardless of their legal status, wider society still tends to stigmatise those who provide commercial sexual services, with street-based sex workers often most the subject of public, political and police scrutiny. This is reflected in the regulation and marginalisation of sex work by local and national government policies to dark and secluded areas of cities.

This marginalisation and stigmatisation is because many people’s knowledge and understanding of sex work is generally limited and informed by moral panics and stereotypes – particularly surrounding issues such as STI rates and trafficking. While it is important to recognise that such problems may occur in sex work, it is also important to stress that these are not experienced by the majority of those engaged in consensual sex work and should certainly not be portrayed as being the most important factor in all sex worker narratives.

Nevertheless, local councils and police forces periodically engage in “clean-up” campaigns that seek to purge local areas of sex work. The police raids in Soho during December 2013, when around 200 police targeted dozens of premises, have been one of the most high-profile examples of this strategy.

Such raids are generally justified by the media and local authorities on the basis that locals, especially women and children, need to be protected from the harmful effects of “sleaze”.

Interestingly, however, there has been little detailed or systematic research on the impacts of sex work on residential communities. Generally speaking, local authority “clean-up” strategies tend to be based not on science, but on a small number of complaints from a vocal minority who assert particular moral agendas.

The evidence that sex work is a problematic issue is rather limited, but it is clear that sex workers themselves are not considered community members and are rarely consulted about their own concerns and needs. Sex workers are just ordinary people – someone’s mother, aunt, brother, friend – trying to make a living.

Research by Phil Hubbard and colleagues, Penny Crofts, Sarah Kingston, and Emily Cooper’s own work suggests that sex work contributes to residential communities in much more complex ways than is commonly portrayed in the media.

Sarah Kingston’s research on the impact of sex work on residential communities in Leeds highlights that the presence of sex workers can actually generate positive outcomes. For example, they (and associated clients, etc) provide passive surveillance against criminal activities and will report crimes. In addition, sex workers and their clients also contribute to local economies via the renting of premises, booking hotel rooms and spending money in local shops, bars and restaurants.

The Blackpool community

Cooper’s research on massage parlours and surrounding residential communities in Blackpool, reinforces these findings. 53 in-depth interviews were conducted (often more than once) with local residents, as well as a number of sex workers, police officers and council officers. Observations were also made over an 18-month period.

Those parlours surrounded by other non-sex work businesses and residences were often referred to by nearby non-sex work business workers as a means of breaking the ice and building rapport with customers, because of questions asked about the parlours being there. Reputedly, for some residents, the parlours also brightened up the mundane routine of peoples’ daily social and work lives. This was also reinforced in Kingston’s findings.

More crucially, some residents highlighted that the parlours – and their 24-hour vibrantly neon-lit presence – engendered a feeling of security in an area that is commonly frequented by “either nobody or large groups of stag parties, which can be a bit intimidating” (quote from resident).

Such views dismantle the common narrative, which suggests that the sex industry is something that attracts criminality rather than a feeling of security.

The Blackpool Gazette often uses “dirt and disgust” rhetoric to characterise the impact of massage parlours and the subsequent “clean-up” campaigns by regulatory bodies. Despite this, plus the ongoing effects of the recent recession, the massage parlours have shown resilience and remain an integral part of the social and economic fabric of Blackpool.

The stigma and stereotyping that tends to surround sex workers (and their clients) has the effect of alienating them and diminishing their sense of safety when working.

Very few residents in the study explicitly stated that they would like to see the sex industry removed. Those that did so were coming from either a stereotypical view of sex work as being inherently harmful or criminal, or from a desire to protect sex workers, who they considered friends and neighbours, from “dodgy clients”. Many residents discussed spending time with sex workers, as they would with any other neighbour.

Despite the fact that several sex workers in my study area lived locally, the long-established presence of massage parlours in Blackpool, and the friendly relationships between sex workers and wider community members, sex workers were still excluded from certain community spaces.

One sex worker, for example, noted that although she had a good relationship with residents adjacent to her place of work, she and another worker were asked to leave a Police and Community Together meeting by other residents because the meeting was “partly about them”.

Moving forward

Such exclusionary actions merely serve to reinforce the stigma imposed on sex workers and deny them their basic democratic rights. Community-based policy and consultation processes need to be more inclusive and appreciative of the fact that sex workers are as much a part of the local community as the next person. Their presence in and near residential communities needs to be viewed through a wider lens based on evidence, rather than a narrow moral one under the control of a vocal minority.

Emerging research suggests that the role and impact of sex work on local areas is more multi-faceted and less extraordinary than is commonly portrayed in the media or television dramas. The urban mythology and regulatory fetish surrounding sex work needs to be dispelled.

A more productive policy approach to regulating commercial sex premises would be to treat them like any other business. Ultimately, sex work should be decriminalised as this regulatory approach offers what other approaches don’t – it guarantees the greater safety, health and well-being of sex workers.


 

Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting 2015, Chicago

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So it is a mere two weeks until the AAG annual meeting in Chicago and I am very excited for the fantastic sessions we have lined up, as well as the meet/tweet ups with several colleagues/friends.  It also just struck me that I was in New York this time last year – hopefully the USA visit is an April tradition I can keep up! 🙂

Paul (@Planographer), Martin (@Zebracki) and I have spent the last few months organising the logistics for our sessions, which are entitled: (De)Sexualisation & (De)Politicisation of Space I-7.  We have a diverse range of speakers including early career and established academics, researchers, sex workers and journalists.   Here is the line up (click the links for the abstract details):

 

(De)Sexualisation & (De)Pornification of Space I: Methodological Frontiers (Thursday 23rd April) http://http://meridian.aag.org/callforpapers/program/SessionDetail.cfm?SessionID=22314&cal=true

*Robyn Longhurst, PhD – University of Waikato – Skype Sex, Love and Romance

*Danielle Antoinette Hidalgo, PhD – Montana State University – Virtual Spaces of Possibility in the Classroom: Teaching Porn, Sex Work and Sexuality in Unlikely Spaces

*Olga Castro – Aston University, Birmingham – Sex in the Media: A Discourse Analysis of Prostitution Ads in the Spanish Press

*Andrew Fogg – Hot spots! Geographic distribution of sex workers and the contribution that sex work/prostitution makes to the UK economy.

 

(De)Sexualisation & (De)Pornification of Space II: Insider/Outsider Perspectives (Friday 24th April) http://meridian.aag.org/callforpapers/program/SessionDetail.cfm?SessionID=22329&cal=true

Christina Parreira, M.A. – University of Nevada, Las Vegas – Auto-Ethnographic Reflections on Selling Sex in the Nevada Desert 

*Lucy Neville, PhD – Middlesex University – ‘I don’t want to be presented as some sort of freak-show… but you’re ‘one of us”: Researching women’s engagement with gay male erotica from within the community

Amy E. Ritterbusch, PhD – Universidad de los Andes – “My Life in Four Blocks”: The Geopolitics of Transgender Sex Work in Colombia

Tessa Wills – CHARGE: Economies of Desire In The Performance Practice of Tessa Wills

 

(De)Sexualisation & (De)Pornification of Space III: Sex Work(er) Markets and Mobilities (Friday 24th April) http://meridian.aag.org/callforpapers/program/SessionDetail.cfm?SessionID=22547&cal=true

*Ari Bass, JD – From Frisco to Vegas: The Economic Geography of the American Commercial Pornosphere

*Trevon D. Logan – The Ohio State University – Men on the Move: The Traveling Patterns Of Male Sex Workers In The U.S.

*Kristien Lieve Gillis – University of Antwerp – The economic organization of street prostitution in the Alhambra area in Brussels

*Nick Skilton – University of Wollongong – Mining and Sex Work: Recentring the margins of unequal labour laws.

 

(De)Sexualisation & (De)Pornification of Space IV: Queerying Sex Work, Sexuality and Public Spaces (Friday 24th April) http://meridian.aag.org/callforpapers/program/SessionDetail.cfm?SessionID=22550&cal=true

*Chen David Misgav – Tel-Aviv University – Gay-Riatric: Spatial Politics and Activism of Elderly Gay Men in Tel-Aviv Gay Center

*Martin Zebracki – University of Leeds, United Kingdom – Virtually Mediated Encounters with ‘Pornographic’ Public Art

Victor Minichiello, PhD – La Trobe University; John Scott, PhD – Queensland University of Technology; Denton Callander, PhD – University of New South Wales – Men who sell sex (and risk) online: Using the Internet to examine the sexual practices of male escorts

Michal Pitonak – Charles University in Prague – Four years of Prague Pride: a celebration, political march or something else?

 

(De)Sexualisation & (De)Pornification of Space V: Governance and Regulation of Sex Work (Saturday 24th April) http://meridian.aag.org/callforpapers/program/SessionDetail.cfm?SessionID=22556&cal=true

*Laura Graham – Durham University – Governing Sex Work Through Crime

*Derek Eysenbach – Sonoma State University – From Streetwalkers to Slaves: Prostitution Discourse and Regulation in Sonoma County, CA

*Emily Cooper, Ph.D – Northumbria University – Cohesion, codes and cosmic ordering: understanding community impact when researching and regulating spaces of sex work

*Lynn Comella, Ph.D. – University of Nevada – Las Vegas – Geographies of Porn: Public Policies and Industrial Practices

 

(De)Sexualisation & (De)Pornification of Space VI: Consuming/Producing/Regulating Sexualised Spaces (Saturday 24th April) http://meridian.aag.org/callforpapers/program/SessionDetail.cfm?SessionID=22871&cal=true

*Katie Hail-Jares – Georgetown University – Meeting the New Neighbors: Trans- Identity, Sex Work, and Gentrification in the Nation’s Capital

Curtis Winkle – University of Illinois at Chicago – The Dynamics Gay Commercial Districts and Their Regulation, Chicago 1920-2010

*Ingrid Olson, PhD Candidate – University of British Columbia – The Hermeneutics of the Dungeon

 

(De)Sexualisation & (De)Pornification of Space VII: The (Im)Moral Landscapes of Sex Work (Saturday 24th April) http://meridian.aag.org/callforpapers/program/SessionDetail.cfm?SessionID=23331&cal=true

*Erin Sanders-McDonagh – Middlesex University – Women’s Consumption of Live Sex: Understanding Public Sex Performance in Thailand and the Netherlands

*Paul J. Maginn, Assoc. Prof – University of Western Australia; Graham Ellison, Dr – Queen’s University of Belfast – Who needs evidence when you have blind faith on your side? The ethno-religious and gendered politics of sex work/prostitution in Northern Ireland

*Serpent Libertine, Community Organizer, Activist – SWOP-Chicago, Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) – Displaced: The Role of Moral Panics in the Destruction of Sex Worker Spaces

*Melissa Gira Grant – Journalist – w4m: The End of the American Red Light District _________________________________________________________________________________________________

Paul was also recently interviewed by Dan Miller at xbiz.com about the sessions, which can be found here: http://www.xbiz.com/news/192382. We will aim to try and be as inclusive as possible with the dissemination of the discussions, using Twitter and social media alongside seeking several publication outlets. Many of the speakers are on Twitter also if anybody wishes to connect with them before the conference.

If you are coming along to the AAG, we do hope that you will check out our sessions! I look forward to many discussions (and beers).  We will have a sub-conference hashtag, so alongside the #AAG2015, follow #geogsex15.

Researching Sexed Spaces: (Re)Imagining the Researcher and (Re)Discovering the ‘Other’ in Understanding Lived Experiences of Exclusion” (Sponsored by the Space, Sexualities & Queer Research Group)

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I am very pleased to advertise our special session at the RGS Annual International Conference (28th August 2014).  Gemma Ahearne (@princessjack) and I are looking forward to hearing some fantastic papers.  Here is the session description:

Recent decades have produced a rapid emergence of research in geography surrounding the complex relationship between sexuality, space and society and the centrality of sexuality in the late modern world (Attwood 2006). Of particular relevance – although not exhaustively – have been: the geographies of sex work, LGBT communities, virtual sexed spaces, sex tourism (especially in reaction to large sports events) and lap dancing establishments. The role of space and place in the constitution of sexual identities – and in the control of those considered to be sexually dissident – have been understood by geographers particularly (Hubbard 2008). This dissidence and often subsequent socio-spatial marginalisation especially relates to the challenge of heteronormative ideals and spaces that is ascribed to and by stigmatised sexual identities (Binnie and Valentine 1999; Peterson 2011; Hubbard et al 2013).

It has been acknowledged, therefore, that due to the stigmatised nature of certain sexual identities, it is difficult to access these hidden populations (Shaver 2005) and to provide them with a voice (Hubbard 1999). Recently, however, there has been an increased interest in exploring methods that allow researchers to overcome and challenge the often homogeneous depictions of excluded groups (Binnie and Valentine 1999; Shaver 2005) and to explore the lived experiences of their socio-spatial spheres via the empowerment of the othered population; researching, therefore with participants rather than about them (Desyllass 2013) in the form of participatory methods, ethno-mimesis and other such approaches. This culminates in the co-production of knowledge in research. Exploring inter-disciplinarity – particularly between geography, sociology and the arts – is therefore of particular relevance.

We have papers from a range of global contexts that discuss researching sexed spaces, with fantastic speakers from a variety of backgrounds.  The theme of the conference particularly encourages the coming together of academic and non-academic worlds, and Gemma and I are keen to advocate this in our field especially.  Here are the list of papers:

http://conference.rgs.org/AC2014/235 – Speakers include: @GemVoodooChops; @skiffleharper; @Planographer; @GlasgaeLauraLee; @erinsandersmcd; @blue_stocking; @NickMaiNormal

http://conference.rgs.org/AC2014/269 – Speakers include: @aptTyler; @laura_jarvis; @TheCowThatSkis; @thefilmfemme; @uglymugsie and the fantastic @Planographer as discussant.

We really hope that you can attend, and please do advertise widely to anybody you think might be interested!  We know it will be a really engaging and thought-provoking session. We will be live tweeting from the session – hashtag to come shortly.

Contact me with any questions at e.cooper2@lancs.ac.uk or on @e_cooper2