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

women-and-sex-tourism-landscapes-by-erin-sanders-mcdonagh-1317601157.jpg

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!

____________________________________________________________________________________________

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.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

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.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

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

____________________________________________________________________________________________

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.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

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!

COST Action ProsPol Conference, Displacing Sex For Sale – Copenhagen, 2017

Picture1

I am currently at the fantastic COST Action ProsPol Conference, Displacing Sex for Sale, in Copenhagen and have enjoyed an inspiring first day.  I’ll update this post later with my notes from the sessions I attended, but I just wanted to do a little plug for our (@Planographer) paper tomorrow, entitled “On-Street, Off-street and Online: The Dynamic Liminalities of Sex Work“. Here is the abstract:

Sex work has long been the subject of labelling and stigma with sex workers, predominantly women, being the subjects of moral authority. Relatedly, the physical and virtual spaces in which sex work is produced and consumed have been subject to ‘territorial stigmatization’ (Wacquant, Updated:23 March 2017 16 2007). That is, commercial sex spaces have been marginalised – physically, socially and economically – by framing them, and those that occupy them, as immoral, deviant, dirty, disorderly, and dangerous. Sex work spaces are thus constructed as major ‘blemishes’ (Wacquant, 2007), not only on the urban landscape but the very fabric of society. Simultaneously, however, sex work spaces constitute ‘counter-spaces’ (Lefebvre, 1991) where ‘sexual boundary crossers’ (Hausbeck Korgan et al, 2016)[1] can engage in transgressive behaviours and express and celebrate their minority sexual identity status. Sex work spaces are also liminal in character in that they are often caught between the grey space of legality and illegality; ‘a space between sex and work whilst also being neither/both’ (Smith, 2015)[2]; a space that can be simultaneously physical and virtual; a space where different personas and/or alter egos can be portrayed and performed; and, a space where fantasy meets reality. This exploratory, conceptual paper will consider the key liminal characteristics across three distinct spaces where sex work is produced and consumed: (i) the street; (ii) indoor spaces (e.g. the home, hotels and brothels); and, (iii) the virtual (e.g. online escorting; social media and camming). It will be argued that the moral posturing, stigma and regulations imposed upon sex workers gives rise to the exercise of ‘liminal stigmatisation’. Simultaneously, however, the very liminality of sex work spaces, especially virtual ones, allows sex workers to mobilise and challenge this liminal stigma from above.

The presentation is part of the panel session Sex Work in the Digital Age, chaired by Prof. Teela Sanders, in Building D, Room 3.114 (3rd floor) between 9.15 and 11am.  Hope to see some of you there!

‘Being an Early Career Feminist Academic: Global perspectives, experiences and challenges’. New edited collection (Palgrave MacMillan)

I’m very excited to announce the impending publication of this fantastic edited collection, put together by Dr Rachel Thwaites (@REThwaites) and Dr Amy Pressland (@a_pressland).  Here is a description of the content taken from Palgrave’s website:

‘This book highlights the experiences of feminist early career researchers and teachers from an international perspective in an increasingly neoliberal academy. It offers a new angle on a significant and increasingly important discussion on the ethos of higher education and the sector’s place in society. Higher education is fast-changing, increasingly market-driven, and precarious. In this context entering the academy as an early career academic presents both challenges and opportunities. Early career academics frequently face the prospect of working on fixed term contracts, with little security and no certain prospect of advancement, while constantly looking for the next role. Being a feminist academic adds a further layer of complexity: the ethos of the marketising university where students are increasingly viewed as ‘customers’ may sit uneasily with a politics of equality for all. Feminist values and practice can provide a means of working through the challenges, but may also bring complications’.

Dr Anna Tarrant (@dratarrant) and I contributed a chapter to the collection, entitled: Exposing the ‘Hidden Injuries’ of Feminist Early Career Researchers: An Experiential Think Piece about Maintaining Feminist Identities.  Our chapter covers some of the difficulties we have faced as early career feminist academics in the current academic climate, and how we have collectively found positive ways to navigate though these and ‘heal’.  We are among great company – the contributions are fantastic.  Find out more details here: http://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9781137543240#aboutBook. The flyer with all of the chapter information is also attached below.

Being an Early Career Feminist Academic flyer (1)

Many thanks to Rachel and Amy for being such supportive editors!

 

 

 

 

 

Sex in the City: Reactionism, Resistance and Revolt – AAG #Geosex16 sessions in San Francisco (March/April 2016) **POST 5/5 – SESSION V**

V – Spaces of Empowerment and Social Inclusion

Paul J. Maginn (@planographer) (University of Western Australia) and Alistair Sisson (@alistairsisson) University of Sydney): “‘Orgasmic Geographies’: The Socio-spatial Distribution and Cultural Significance of Sex Toys in Australia

Paul’s paper centred on adult retailing in Australia – he began by outlining how adult retailing in Australia has come a long way since the first sex shops (opening in the early 1970s), where mainly pornographic material was sold (Sullivan, 1997). He explained that the number of sex shops has proliferated and the range of shops have diversified with 3 broad types of physical stores now identifiable – ‘seedy and sleazy’; ‘corporate chain stores’; and ‘erotic boutiques’ – that cater to particular client bases (Maginn and Steinmetz, 2014). Paul’s research – conducted with Alistair Sisson (University of Sydney) – focuses on “historical sales data from two online retailers, one Australian and one international, and uses GIS to map the socio-spatial distribution of sex toys and other related adult products across Australia at different spatial scal”es. More specifically, their research examines the “gendered, political and socio-economic aspects of the sale of adult products” to ascertain just how socio-spatially and -culturally mainstream sex toys have become in 21st century Australia.

 

Paul then briefly outlined the conceptual framework for the research. He discussed how the emergence of feminist adult literature, sex toy businesses (see Prof. Lynn Comella’s work) and ‘stylised pleasure’ has “situated sex shops as sites of cultural production AND retail production; thus perpetuating changing cultural norms around adult retailing and pleasure”.  Paul discussed the paralleled changing aesthetics of adult retail stores, “promoting style” as opposed to just phallocentric aesthetics, and becoming more ‘vanilla’ (drawing on Prof. Clarissa Smith’s work).  Paul dubbed this a “depornification process”, removing the notion of seediness and sleaziness and promoting the “commodification of pleasure” – he outlined how sex shops have capitalised on wider cultural sexuality eg the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon.  He commented on the ways in which the FSOG phenomenon has, regardless of the attitude towards the quality of the book itself, had a marked impact on the demand for the accompanying adult retail market.

Paul then went on to discuss the range in products available – ranging from basic, entry level to luxury goods, e.g. a gold vibrator selling for £10000 (which he dubbed as more collector’s items)!  He outlined the 3-pronged sex shop typology in more detail, and then discussed the Perth context.  Paul explained that there are not many small, boutique stores in Perth but these are beginning to emerge across Australia more broadly.

Some findings (**I was chairing this session so didn’t get many results down in detail**): in relation to the socio-spatial distribution of sales, Paul explained that they currently had 2 years’ worth of data but that this does not provide information on who the customers are.  He outlined that there were high levels of sales in Perth and Sydney (with plenty of sex shops in Sydney). NSW is the most populous state but had fairly small sales numbers as a whole.  He explained that therefore sales analysis should be studied at more of a regional scale, with the micro-geographies of sales being particularly interesting. Paul also explained that, so far, it is suggested that political voting makes no difference to sales.

Paul finished the talk by stating that sex toys have gone through a staged evolution: ‘from marital aid, to sex toy/pleasure, to a collector’s item’.  The changing nature of shop/website aesthetics and the dilution of phallic display ‘raises interesting questions about who-should-see-what in sex shop windows’.

 

Lesley Gabriel (@muckybooksblog) (Birmingham City University): “50 Shades of Suburbia: The BDSM Scene in Birmingham, UK”.

Lesley’s paper described the ongoing research for her PhD into the BDSM scene in Birmingham, UK.   Although in the early stages of her PhD, Lesley explained that it is likely her research will take the form of an ethno-history, with interviews conducted with participants from the Birmingham BDSM scene.  These participants, she stated, will range from those who first established the Birmingham Bizarre Bazar (BBB – a monthly fetish market and after party), right through to newer members of the community who may have been led there by the claim on the BBB’s website: “If you liked 50 Shades, you’ll love the BBB!”  The Birmingham scene revolves around the Birmingham Bizarre Bazar (or BBB) which attracts a wide range of attendees from across the UK and Europe.  She also stated that the project will also provide a “thorough discussion of how the internet has changed the scene by enabling better communication as well as education and kink-related commerce”.

Lesley outlined the justification for her PhD project in the presentation.  She began by stating that BDSM is a blended acronym and a colloquial term for kink, and providing some context on the study site.  Birmingham, she explained, is the “birthplace of the industrial revolution and a rock capital, with a large-yet-currently-undocumented BDSM scene”.  She said that while there is a concentration in the literature on global hubs for BDSM activity such as San Francisco or London, nothing has been published about the UK’s second city – despite the scene being a large and cohesive one.

Through an ethno-history approach inspired by Kuhn (2002), Lesley is interested in “what participants in the scene do, how they identify themselves and the words they use to describe what it is they do/are”.  She outlined how, regardless of what one thinks of the 50 Shades of Grey books, it is difficult to ignore their popularity and influence over the BDSM scene, including bringing issues of consent to the discussion.  Lesley outlined how recent research has shown that, despite some from the BDSM scene wanting to project it from people from the FSOG movement, one of the opinions is that ‘if you are going to come to the scene because of FSOG, then learn something about it’. Lesley finished by stating that coming to the AAG2016 had been “instrumental in learning the role of sex workers in the BDSM community” – and that she would like to include such voices in her research.

 

Susan Buckingham, Prof and Monica Degen, Dr (Brunel University London): “Transformational space and gendered and sexed identities” **I didn’t take any useful notes during this presentation – chairing commitments made these difficult to decipher!**

Abstract: The proposed paper examines the potential of space to be transformational for a group of vulnerable women for whom their identity is more than usually closely tied to their sexed and gendered bodies. Our discussion emerges from a research project which explored yoga as a research methodology (Buckingham and Degen, 2012), and research in progress on sex workers’ identity with different spaces. Through these projects, it is becoming clear that how the women felt, identified and behaved was powerfully shaped by the spaces they inhabited (Tuan 1977). From the domestic space of the women’s centre in East London in which the participants accessed facilities and services, through their local regenerated neighbourhood, and distant places to which they were introduced, we discuss how three particular places enabled these women, otherwise stigmatized as marginal through being ‘homeless’, ‘substance abusing’, and/or prostitutes in their habitual spaces, to produce an alternative re-formulation of their self-identities (Keith & Pile 1993; Knowles & Alexander 2005).  Employing an ethnographic approach, the paper considers how a high specification architect designed support centre, third sector spaces, and a coastal holiday location each offered such vulnerable women spaces in which they could expand the boundaries of their profoundly gendered and sexed identities. Finally, we consider what the broader implications of our findings are for theorizing a ‘politics of difference’ for vulnerable groups in contemporary neo-liberal cities (Young 1990).

 

 

Christina Bazzaroni (PhD Candidate – Florida International University): “Sex Positive Culture Creation: Kinky Salon and the Sex Culture Revolution

Christina’s paper discussed her PhD research on Kinky Salon, which she outlined is an “arty, sexy party” providing an alternative space for sexual exploration to typical sex clubs that are “often impersonal and intimidating”. Christina outlined that these events happen in 12 cities around the world, reproduced in the same way across space, and that “each party has a theme and dress code to foster community and fun”.  She stated that Kinky Salon positions itself as a global sex positive community (with a strong complementary online community) that aims to “facilitate cultural and political change by adopting strategies and ideologies of co-creation and cultural revolution”. The events, Jennifer argues, cultivate a sex-positive community organized largely around individuals that are “participation and activism oriented”, politically aware, ethical actors. Furthermore, she says, the KS community of participants and volunteers often develop lifestyles that “embrace various configurations of ethical non-monogamy”.  Its core values are: “playful, safe, inclusive, creative, community spirited, socially conscious, and sexually progressive”.

Some key questions in Christina’s PhD research include: What is it to be sex positive (e.g. the type(s) of freedom it relates to)? What is sex positive culture/community? What is the sex culture revolution? She contextualised these questions initially by discussing that the sex and sexualities field is moving away from centring on LGBT enclaves alone, and focusing on ordinary cities as well as global tourist centres (drawing on Phil Hubbard’s work).  She argued that the field is now wanting to ask more questions about “how alternative sex communities garner more positive sexually expressive spaces” – and alternative partnering strategies such as polyamory and ethical, consensual non monogamy – drawing from feminist geography literature.

Jennifer outlined that a central feature of KS is the idea of sex positivity – and serves to challengeconventional negative norms around sex, and shame around bodies”.  Jennifer outlined how the AIDS crisis of 1980s created fear around sex, and that “KS, as part of the new generation, has grown divorced from tragedies from past generations”.  She outlined the centrality of issues such as consent to the culture, and that the events have a clear charter outlining the norms/orders of the venues.  Jennifer explained that often the individuals involved are politically aware and have an action-based political agenda: “wanting individuals to enter the door, change their lives and re-enter society”. 

The paper concluded by asking questions regarding how these sort of events/venues could reach out to other people, and asked for suggestions from conference attendees.  Jennifer also outlined that there is still a way to go with mainstreaming BDSM sexual expression.

 

Final note:

Paul, Clarissa, Martin and I are exploring publication options for the papers from our sessions and so further details will hopefully be available soon.  (Particularly if you have stuck with me for all 5 posts), thanks very much for reading and I hope all of my post-conference ramblings made sense!