Sexuality is generally considered an important aspect of self-hood. Therefore, individuals who do not experience sexual attraction, and embrace an asexual identity are in a unique position to inform the social construction of sexuality. This study explores the experiences of asexual individuals utilizing open ended Internet survey data from 102 self-identified asexual people. In this paper I describe several distinct aspects of asexual identities: the meanings of sexual, and therefore, asexual behaviors, essentialist characterizations of asexuality, and lastly, interest in romance as a distinct dimension of sexuality. These findings have implications not only for asexual identities, but also for the connections of asexuality with other marginalized sexualities.
This study describes the complex dynamics of the sexual, economic and social interactions between a group of feminized homosexual men and men who have sex with men and self-identify as heterosexual ('mostaceros'), in lower-income peripheral urban areas of Lima and Trujillo, Peru. The study examined sexual risk between these two groups of men, and the significance of the economic exchanges involved in their sexual interactions. Using a Grounded Theory approach, 23 individual interviews and 7 focus groups were analyzed. The results reveal that cultural, economic and gender factors mold sexual and social relations among a group of men who have sex with men in Peru. Compensated sex is part of the behaviors of these men, reflecting a complicated construction of sexuality based on traditional conceptions of gender roles, sexual identity and masculinity. Several factors (e.g. difficulty in negotiating condom use, low self-esteem, low risk perception, alcohol and drug consumption), in the context of compensated sex, play a role in risk-taking for HIV infection.
This special issue of
Sexualities emerged from a day school in May 2007, organized by the editors and hosted jointly by De Montfort University and Sheffield Hallam University, on ‘Researching and Teaching the Sexually Explicit: Ethics, Methodology and Pedagogy’. Featuring presentations by Martin Barker, Brian McNair and Clarissa Smith, the day provoked valuable discussion about the challenges of academic work in this area at a time of media panics about ‘pornification’ and restrictive legislation about sexually extreme material. This resulting special issue brings together contributions from the UK, Australia, the USA, Finland and Hong Kong to reflect on shared concerns in a field transformed by new paradigms for understanding sexuality, in a context where the media seem increasingly important in the construction of sex and ‘discourse around sexuality at many social levels has focused more and more on visual representations’ (Kleinhans, 2004: 71). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
When Lallemand coined the term spermatorrhee in the first volume of Des pertes séminales involontaires (1838), an earlier discourse on ‘seminal weakness’ was transformed into something new: a recognizable and treatable medical disorder, with its own specific aetiology and nosology. To the symptoms of seminal weakness - blushing, crying, breathlessness, melancholy, lack of confidence and extreme sensitivity - were added symptoms such as spermatozoa in the urine detectable only with the use of new, microscopic medical technologies. While the spermatorrhoea epidemic thus reflects an increased anxiety about male fluidity at this time, it also produced a profound change in the practice and organization of medicine. The flourishing of 'quack' doctors in this area forced licensed physicians to incorporate treatment of sexual disorders and diseases within general practice, while new legislation regulated the medical profession itself.
The article explores talk about young men and relations between younger and older men in the homonormative rhetorical context of the Swedish homosexual press from the 1950s through the 1980s. The discussion is related to meanings of sexuality for the sake of pleasure (the pleasure ideal) and sexuality for the sake of love (the love ideal). Meanings of sexual relations between boys and men are nuanced in the homosexual press: by providing a variety of descriptions of sexual desire between men and boys, representing the boy as someone who can take both an active subject position and a passive object position in the relationship, and by separating homosexual practices from paedophilic practices. An earlier homonormative ideal or at least a socially sanctioned possibility of relationships between men and boys, as a less equal couple and partner ideal, is gradually replaced though, by a more equal couple and partner ideal based on an expectation of similarity.
This article explores transformations within the intimate lives of married couples in Ireland between 1963 and 1980. I use data from the problem page of renowned agony aunt Angela Macnamara to chart evidence of a renegotiation of the traditional love/lust balance identified by Wouters (1998) which has, I argue, contributed to a greater democratization emerging within these relationships. The problem page reveals tensions between a declining traditional moral code espoused by Macnamara and a new language of sexual and marital fulfilment. This new language was increasingly heard on television chat shows and soap operas, in newspapers and magazines, in Ireland and abroad. It was the language of the women’s movement and intellectuals who challenged Catholic social teaching on pre-marital sex, contraception and divorce. This article gives a unique insight into the intersection of the private lives of the column and the broader structural changes which continued to shape those lives, including Macnamara’s, over a 17-year period.
In the mid-1970s, indoor sex workers were pushed outdoors onto the streets of Vancouver’s emergent gay West End, where a small stroll had operated for several years. While some gay activists contemplated solidarity with diversely gendered and racialized sex workers, others galvanized a campaign, alongside business owners, realtors, police, city councillors, and politicians to expel prostitution from their largely white, middle-class enclave. Sex workers commanded inadequate capital to thwart the anti-vice, neo-liberal lobby. Instead, an assimilationist, homonormative gay politics played out on the backs of an even more vulnerable and stigmatized sexual minority – the majority of whom were low-income, street-involved women, men, and male-to-female (MTF) transsexuals of colour.
This article offers a selective review of the history of gay men’s HIV/AIDS prevention in Australia. It argues that from the outset of the epidemic, those working in gay men’s HIV prevention in Australia developed a new health education aesthetic, a safe-sex aesthetic, which packaged safe-sex information in ways that were sex positive and appealing to the target audience. At the same time, it presented safe sex as constitutive of a shared gay male identity, based on an ethics of mutual care and support. This aesthetic has proven immensely flexible in responding to and accommodating changes in the epidemic and gay male community over the past 25 years. However, it has led to attacks by conservative groups that gay men’s HIV prevention has been less about prevention and more about promoting homosexuality. This article concludes that a safe-sex aesthetic was ahead of its time, modelling best-practice health promotion nearly a decade before it became official public health policy in Australia.
Working from an interdisciplinary perspective, this article examines the development of gender identity categories and the institutionalization of sex-reassignment procedures based on two different qualitative studies carried out during a 10-year span with transexual and transgendered people, activists and legal experts. In the context of the legal, social and political frameworks regulating gender migration in Spain in the last decade, the data reveal the proliferation of gender identity categories amidst increasing medicalization of trans folk, boundary policing and a growing tension between medical and political understandings of gender migration.
This article deals with the emerging field of queer anarchism, with a particular focus on the characteristics of this emerging paradigm in Buenos Aires. It draws on recent theoretical connections between queer theory and anarchism in the work of Gavin Brown, Richard Cleminson and Jamie Heckert, as well as in the work of a queer anarchist group in Buenos Aires called Proyectil Fetal. Set in the context of its historical precedents in anarcha-feminism, Proyectil Fetal’s paradigm is illustrated with a variety of examples from their online publications, whilst also considering some of the critical reactions to their articles.
Using the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney 2002 Gay Games as a case study, in this article I analyse sexual citizenship through the lens of global cosmopolitanism. I begin by arguing that at these Games an idealised sexual citizen was produced through neoliberal discourses of freedom, rights, choice and cosmopolitanism. At events of this kind, these individualising practices function as new and important forms of ‘political’ action. I then argue that the idealised cosmopolitan sexual citizen is presumed to be a white, western citizen-subject who has access to ‘difference’ through urban living, global travel and through personal investments in the project of global queer world-making. Finally, I illustrate how becoming a cosmopolitan sexual citizen involves a set of consumptive practices that fetishise and Other non-white bodies and lives. At large global gay and lesbian events like the Gay Games, local histories and bodies are mediated as sites of consumption that affirm sexual citizens’ status as global cosmopolitan citizens and define the parameters of an imagined queer world.
In 2008 internationally acclaimed Australian photographer Bill Henson planned to exhibit some of his work at a Sydney Gallery. This included photographs of a naked 12-year-old child. When one image was used in publicity to promote the exhibition it came to the attention of the organizer of a child advocacy group who complained to police that the image constituted child pornography. The subsequent seizing of the images gave rise to a community debate about artistic freedom, what constitutes child pornography and the capacity of children to consent. Although these events coincidentally occurred at the same time as a Senate inquiry into the sexualization of children in the media, the issue of childhood sexuality was a muted aspect of the ensuing public debate.
The abstinence movement in the USA, as a sector of the Christian Right, advocates abstinence before marriage and links abstinence to Evangelical Christian morality, sexual purity, and heterosexual marriage. A number of single-issue abstinence groups have formed over the past 10 to 15 years in the USA; their political success in advocating a ‘values-based’ response to sexuality and the current scope of abstinence education is unprecedented in US politics. With the election of President Obama, however, the movement faced the loss of the majority of its funding and powerful elite allies. Using in-depth interviews with directors of four groups that comprise the core of the movement, this article analyzes the movement’s agenda and strategies at this critical juncture in its history.
In recent years there have been several culturo-criminal discursive shifts, which have oriented political and public concerns away from ‘real world’ sex crimes against children and the people most likely to commit them. These include the construction of the dangerous stranger as the primary threat to children; the widespread use of the terms ‘paedophile’ and ‘child pornography’ in the common lexicon and the placing of both the paedophile and pornography in virtual rather than real space. Such discourses not only fail to protect children, but may even work to fetishize youth and youthful bodies colluding with the widespread commercial sexualization of children. In the ‘cyber-paed’ the news media have created the monster of our age and orchestrated what some criminologists might term a moral panic about both ‘cyber’ and ‘paeds’. This has occurred in a culture that, simultaneous with the castigation and outrage of the ‘cyber-paed’, routinely sexually objectifies children and infantilizes women to sell products, or pleasure as product; a culture that also largely ignores the evidence that most sexual crime against children happens in families. This article explores the contradictions and deflections inherent in contemporary constructions of sexuality and childhood and assesses the panic about paedophiles in cyber-space.
In this discussion children’s difficult citizenship is examined within the contentious context of children being considered sexual citizens. The relationship of childhood to sexuality is fraught with difficulties, controversies, and complexities; it is one openly and officially based on exclusion, with children constituted as requiring protection from sexuality, considered an ‘adults’ only’ domain, dangerous to children. Hegemonic discourses of childhood and innocence are examined in the ways in which they have been utilized to strictly regulate children’s access to knowledge of sexuality and to deny their relevance and access to sexual citizenship. Utilizing a Foucaultian theoretical framework, it is argued that the regulation of children’s access to knowledge of sexuality is primarily linked to the ways in which childhood and innocence are utilized as a means through which the ‘good’ heteronormative adult citizenship subject is constituted and governed. Children’s education is foundational in the development of the heteronormative good future citizen and sexual citizen subject. Through institutions such as schooling, adults have heavily regulated children’s education and access to information, strictly defining what knowledge children should and should not be privy to. A focus is given to Australian primary schooling and pre-school education. Moral panic is regularly mobilized to reinforce this regulation when the boundaries of what is perceived to be ‘appropriate’ knowledge for children are transgressed. It is argued that this regulation has critical implications for children’s early education, their increased vulnerabilities, and for their health and well-being, not just in their childhood but throughout their lives.
Parents of gender variant children routinely negotiate their child's gender with social institutions, from schools to churches to neighborhood associations. These interactions require that parent develop narratives about why their particular child violates gender norms. In this paper, I argue that over the last century, there has been a proliferation within biomedicine, psychiatry and popular culture of the ways in which we can “know” gender; and as a result, ever more emotional work is required to account for the “self” that inhabits the gendered body. This analysis of the work parents of gender variant children do to explain their children to others demonstrates that these identities require a distinctly modern form of accounting. With that call to articulate the self comes an attendant proliferation of the ways in which gender can be regulated; yet, despite much sociological evidence that medicine, psychology and spirituality are often mechanisms for social control, they also provide ready tools for exploring, facilitating and embracing the multiplicity and plasticity of contemporary gender identities.
We develop the concept of sexual capital through examining cases of female sex workers (referred to as xiaojies in Chinese) in the Pearl River Delta, a highly industrialized region of south China. We explore the properties of sexual capital and the conditions that allow them to function. Xiaojies employ sexual and body practices to develop different ‘currencies’: those of bodily beauty; sexual values, knowledge, practices and skills; performance (entertainment and gender performance); and sexual and emotional sophistication – in exchange for economic, social and cultural capital. However, even if sexual capital fails to be converted to the social and economic capital needed for achieving desired goals, these women experience a self-transformation, from rural country girls into sexy, modern and urban women. Such sexual capital is essential for xiaojies who do not have many other resources and are constantly subject to regulations concerning rural migrants and prostitution. This is not only about ‘guanxi’ (social capital, social connections with others) and social network, which were considered essential in earlier studies, but also about self-esteem, emotional capacity, cognitive understanding of life and so on. Sexual capital involves the capacity for sexual expression and developing a new relationship with oneself, and has emotional significance, in addition to its potential for acquiring social and economic capital.
Global anarchist movements and queer politics are integrating in mutually informing ways. The characteristics of this synthesis include liberatory theories and practices of embodied genders and sexualities in private and public, direct actions to visibilize and extend queer publics, and queer intersections with capitalism, the environment, race, disability, public space, private property and citizenship, among others. This article will critically analyze three cases of anti-consumerist vomiting, including an erotic performance, a punk zine, and a Pink Panthers direct action, to investigate the politics of queer anarchist autonomous publics that extend the anti-homophobic and antiheteronormative politics of queer counterpublics toward challenging homonormativity through intersectional anti-oppression and liberatory value-practices.
This article is an exploration of American lesbian and gay activists' attitudes towards transgender inclusion in the LGBT movement. Lesbian and gay activists articulated different attitudes towards transgender inclusion that were inflected by their different subcultural histories and ability to make connections personally with transgender issues. Through an analysis of 32 semi-structured interviews with Midwestern lesbian and gay activists, this article examines the process by which lesbian and gay activists become transgender allies through making parallels to their own oppression or visible transgender discrimination. This research contributes to the existing literature on both collective identities and ally identities by contextualizing the formation of ally identities within the history of the LGBT movement.
The adaptation of canonical literary texts in cinema is often linked to a genre known as ‘heritage cinema’, a form associated especially with European cinema and used to promote a conservative vision of the nation as a site of heteronormative reproductive futurity. However, recalling Judith Butler's assertion that all repetition carries within it the possibility of subversion, and, furthermore, that subversion requires repetition, adaptation reappears as a potentially queer textual activity. As Linda Hutcheon argues, adaptation is ‘repetition without replication’. Through a close reading of differing modes and techniques of adaptation in the films of François Ozon, this article will demonstrate that adaptation offers the possibility of imagining new relationalities and affective encounters beyond the heteronormative reproduction of the nation state.
Inspired by Simon Hardy who sees ‘pornographic realism’ as the defining characteristic of pornography, this article argues that Taiwanese men identify more with Japanese adult videos (AVs) especially bishōjo (beautiful young woman) AVs, the prototypical genre in Japanese AV industry, than other varieties, because they appear to these men as more ‘real’. However, this article goes further to move beyond the reality–representation divide by arguing that the so-called ‘reality’ is also discursively constituted. We first demonstrate how the ‘proper’ sex act of men in Taiwan is discursively constituted through Simon and Gagnon’s notion of ‘sexual script’. We then show how this discursively mediated male sex in Taiwan parallels neatly with the structure of the narrative of nine Japanese bishōjo AVs featuring Yuki Maiko, a prominent Japanese AV actress. We conclude that Japanese AVs in general and bishōjo AVs in particular will garner huge popularity among Taiwanese men because they appear to these men very ‘real’. That is to say, the distinction between pornographic representations of sex and the ‘real’ sex vanishes not because pornographic representations are getting more ‘real’ as Hardy has argued, but because the so-called ‘real’ sex is also culturally constituted.
I conducted a thematic content analysis of key adult films in order to explore patterns and trends occurring in US adult film industry production and development between 1972 and 2005. Insights from grounded theory informed my consideration of a systematic sampling of 26 films. Emergent patterns and trends include: (1) content consistency across eras; (2) shifts in the form of sex depiction presentation; (3) continuous industry mainstreaming; and (4) changes in women talents’ (actors’) aesthetics. These patterns and trends reveal some tensions existing between the adult film industry and wider society, highlight symbiotic developments in what has been and what is currently considered ‘pornographic’, and illustrate the continued presence of dualistic power-based relationships in shaping persons’ social-sexual interactions.
Historically, the heterosexual age of consent in Britain has enshrined in law an asymmetrically gendered model of sexual agency. This legislation is currently under review as part of a wider review of the law on sexual offences premised on gender neutrality. In this paper young people’s own perspectives are explored, through discussion of the proposition that the age of consent for heterosexuals should be lowered to 14. The ensuing focus group discussions with 11-16 year olds discussions reflect the active way in which young people encounter and negotiate the institutionalisation of heterosexuality represented by such legislation. The paper explores young people’s perspectives through themes of legality, protection and timeliness, seeking to distinguish between how young people may evaluate or use the existing legal framework and the factors that they believe make sex legitimate.
This article explores how the life course boundary between children/adults is constructed and disciplined in terms of gendered sexuality and sexual pedagogy. Using the debate surrounding the publication of the novel Doing It by Melvin Burgess, I examine the cultural field of literature for young people (sometimes referred to as the ‘young adult’ or YA market), seeing this field as a variety of sites where sexual learning occurs and where the boundaries between adulthood and childhood are governed and contested. Looking at reviews by adults and young people, and the re-branding of the book under an adult imprint, I explore how hetero-gendered transitions between childhood, teenage and adult are constructed within discussions of what and where young people should learn about sexuality. I suggest that throughout the Doing It debate an essentialized ‘male mind’ is assembled through claims to social realism, morality, and shared identity that are founded in a particular classed, raced, and heterosexualized, ‘hegemonic masculinity’ (Connell 2005). I conclude with a discussion of the possibilities and limitations of using literature in a liberal sexuality education.
This article traces how a 1990s’ US social movement organization, PFLAG (Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays) constitutes itself and its work by extending the story of coming out via particular emotional promises featured in its motivational framing. I trace how PFLAG’s motivational framing carefully balances a call to participate in terms of grief with a call to action in terms of love, thereby offering potential participants the ‘emotional promise’ of getting beyond negative feelings of homophobia to restore and celebrate the love for their offspring. I show how this motivational framing is tied to PFLAG’s dual mission of support and advocacy. Finally I discuss how these emotional framings are tied to two political logics resonating in LGBT movement work at the time, noting that love operates well to motivate an identity logic (‘supporting LGBT people’) but does not work as well to motivate an interest-group logic (‘fighting for LGBT equality’).
The last several years in Anglophone societies have seen an explosion of anxiety about teenage ‘sexting’. Legislators are racing to have laws designed that can keep pace with new technologies and the exchange of sexually explicit material. However, in the absence of laws crafted with sexting in mind, police, parents, and prosecutors in many jurisdictions are sometimes responding by charging some teenagers with child pornography, sexual harassment, and indecency offences. Some of these felonies, even when involving the consensual exchange of self-images to a sexual partner, have resulted in adolescents being mandated to register as sex offenders. This article considers the stakes of current socio-legal and pedagogical responses to the practice of consensual teenage sexting. It argues that, beyond an expression of concern with child protection from harm, a ‘sexting panic’ is being generated in part as a way of displacing the question of teenage sexual agency.
Understanding the ways in which South African teenage women give meaning to sexuality is important particularly in the context of increased risk to HIV and violence. Drawing from a focus-group interview with teenage women, this article challenges representations of African female sexuality as docile, in suffering and pain. Instead the article argues that teenage women’s construction of sexuality reveals both agency and complicity with male power. Agency was evident in the expression of sexual desire and pleasure and the ability to act on same-sex relations. Agency was ambiguous however and constrained by the need to protect sexual reputations, complicity in violent gender relations and the use of alcohol and drugs which serves to advance male sexual opportunities and power. The article demonstrates the need to work with young women as sexual agents, constrained by unequal relations of power, understanding and reflecting on their complicity in the reproduction of inequalities as well as taking heed of the diverse contexts within which gender relations are produced in South Africa.
Based on interviews with 27 men and 20 observation sessions, this article explores how middle-aged gay men’s accounts/experiences of Manchester’s ‘gay village’ indicate various uses of ‘ageing capital’ (at times problematic) that differentiate them from other gay men. Men’s spoken and bodily expressed accounts indicate three responses to gay ageism. First, the village represents an alienated space where middle-aged men felt subject to ageist scrutiny or else erased from ‘the scene’. Second, the village represents ambivalent space of intermixed pleasures and dangers where middle-aged gay men negotiate with age-related norms. Third, middle-aged gay men could challenge gay ageism and render parts of the village more convivial.
The interaction of gender, culture, race and sexuality is a central dynamic to this article, which seeks to move forward feminist debate on the benefits and harms of sadomasochist practices for women by applying the critical race and postcolonial method of world-travelling. The article seeks to make a novel contribution to the feminist analysis of consensual violence and sadomasochism in law by filtering the issue through a postcolonial feminist theoretical framework to productively circumvent the current analytical impasse in this area of feminist ‘sex wars’.
Standard models of sexual consent in sexual violence prevention campaigns suppose that women, as free and autonomous agents, are in control of their sexuality and are able to ‘just say no’ to unwanted sex. In this article, we suggest that the ‘just say no’ approach to sexual consent is deeply problematic in light of the contradictory ways in which women’s empowerment is assumed within postfeminist discourses whilst masking ongoing gender imbalances. In addition, we problematise neoliberalist notions of the inherently free and hyper-responsible citizen by highlighting the persistence of sociostructural constraints on young women's sexual decision-making. We draw on an analysis of interviews with eight young women aged between 18 and 24 about their perceptions and experiences of everyday negotiations of consent in their casual and intimate sexual relationships with men.
Although an extensive body of work exists exploring the relationships between space and gender, gender performance and identity, little attention has been given to examining the space-agency nexus of lesbian/queer subjects in sexed spaces — this is particularly the case when it comes to exploring lesbian/queer sexualities. Drawing on face-to-face interviews and observations, I examine participants' experiences at Pussy Palace, a lesbian/queer bathhouse in Toronto, Canada, focusing in particular on the ways in which the space enabled and constrained spatial praxis and agency. I conclude that the embodied desire found at Pussy Palace undermines the hegemonic discourse that treats women as passive and subjugating subjects. At the same time, the bathhouse erects its own marginalizing forces, while fostering a particular training of the body that narrows the range of emergent sexualities and alternative sexual scripts.
This article begins by contextualizing the author's experience as an aging femme trying to locate herself in relation to the representation of the femme as lesbianism’s “bad girl.” From the point of view of the femme at midlife, it analyzes the construction of the femme as the gender performative subject with agency in opposition to an imagined “mainstream,” heterosexual woman whose gender identity is determined by her internalization of beauty culture. The article calls for a rethinking of how femme theory conceptualizes femininity, with particular attention to how current articulations of femme identity are indebted to voluntarist discourses of subjectivity traced through the feminist sex wars, theories of gender performativity, and subcultural studies of style.
Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with sex tourists in San José, Costa Rica, this article explores the connections between masculinity and the production of value in sex tourism. I argue that in the context of increasing opportunities for travel and technological innovations, North American masculine identities have become transnational, including for non-elite men. Sex tourists’ descriptions of their experiences reveal that they are involved in a contradictory search for a masculine identity that is simultaneously progressive and hegemonic, one that relies not only on sex workers but also on a critique of the masculinity of Costa Rican men and other tourists. This article also suggests that sex tourism is best understood as a relational economy, in that the encounters between sex tourists and sex workers produce value that is simultaneously economic, embodied, and emotional, including the possibility of temporarily enhanced social status.
This article adds to debates about intimate life in non-heterosexual relationships and the concept of ‘families of choice’ by exploring lesbian couples’ understandings of becoming and being a family through donor conception. Drawing on a study comprising 25 lesbian couples in England and Wales who pursued parenthood together using donor sperm, it explores the constructions of family connections as they emerge in couples’ accounts about donor selection and ethnicity/‘race’, siblinghood, surnames and civil partnerships. Asking how far the concept of ‘families of choice’ accounts for contemporary same-sex intimate practices, the article highlights the complex interplay between privilege and under-privilege in the couples’ narratives of conception. It argues that traditional intimate values are emerging as significant in shaping how this community of same-sex couples understand, imagine and construct their intimate lives.
Increasingly, researchers casually use the concept of coming out. After tracing its conceptual inflation, this article shifts the lens from identity development to reconsider coming out as identity management. I develop the perspective of strategic outness – the contextual and continual management of identity – to emphasize the role of social context in sexual identity disclosure. Using data from open-ended essays, I explore three aspects of strategic outness: strategies, motivational discourses, and social relationships. My participants discuss using multiple strategies to manage who knows about their sexuality, cohesively describe multiple motivations for controlling that information, and emphasize the role of social relationships in their decision-making. Strategic outness reconsiders how coming out is used with sexuality research, providing researchers with an explicit perspective to consider the social context of sexual identity disclosure in their analyses.
This article extends recent discussions about the variegated character of American evangelicalism through a qualitative analysis of how issues of same-sex marriage (and gay rights more broadly) were viewed by one group of self-identified Christian evangelicals worshipping in New York City. Specifically, we draw on parish-based interviews and participant observation in one Episcopalian evangelical parish to discuss the extent to which its members accepted the framing of gay rights as civil rights, and how this framing allowed some parishioners to separate personal religious views from secular politics.
This article argues that queering anarchism means complexifying it. Concretely, we propose that we can apply some of the ways that we (might) love to the ways that we think about political theory. Thus, we build the metaphor of ‘theoretical polyamory’ to suggest that having multiple partners (or political theories) is a way of constructing more holistic and nuanced movements than might be implied by solely relying on anarchism for the answers to the complex questions surrounding the political project of undoing all forms of structured and institutionalized domination, coercion, and control.
Much of the struggle for a queer public commons involves tactics and philosophical understandings embraced by anarchists and queers alike. A few of these overlapping positions include: an embrace of the insurrectionary possibilities of pleasure; a rejection of social controls and formal hierarchies in favor of mutual aid networks and DIY community building; the use of direct action; and a culture of resistance. The interconnections between these movements are often under-theorized and under-valued. Yet, rather than build on these linkages, much of today’s queer theory finds itself facing a divide separating theory from practice. This article explores this divide in relation to historically-informed examples of current queer activist practices in which queers and anarchists share common cause. The examples highlight the links between anarchism and efforts aimed at reproductive health and sexual self-determination, public assembly, and battles against social prohibitions and vice squads. The article concludes with a call for a mutual engagement between queer activism and anarchism.
This article examines how women consciously choosing asexuality might inform both radical feminist politics and anarchic concepts of positive and negative liberty. By resituating some of the lesser-known narratives of the 1960s’ and 1970s’ radical feminist movement (e.g. Valerie Solanas’ SCUM Manifesto and Boston’s Cell 16 and No More Fun and Games), asexuality is shown to disrupt key intersections between sexuality and the state, particularly institutions that control reproduction, pleasure, and women’s bodies. Using interview data with Cell 16 members, content analysis of early radical feminist writings, and theoretical and historical analyses of separatism, the piece argues that, by removing themselves from sexuality, women can take a more anarchic stance against the entire institution of sex, thereby working toward more nihilistic, anti-reproduction, anti-family goals that severely disrupt commonly held assumptions about sex, gender, and power.
This article explores the articulation of queer sexuality with anarchist identity. Drawing on interviews and participant observation in the contemporary North American anarchist movement, I show that queer critique is typical among self-identified anarchists. Anarchist movement culture serves as a medium for the circulation of discourses around sexuality and anarchist identity, as well as supports individuals in their own queer practices of resistance against dominant sexual norms. However, subcultural investments in notions of authenticity may serve to detract from the political potential to be found within anarchist culture. This article ultimately concludes that the strong movement culture and its investment in authentic identity can prove useful for anarchist political projects, but that ‘anarchonormativity’ must be wielded strategically, taking into account its many potential effects.
‘We need form, not formlessness!’ In Gustav Landauer’s plaintive cry echoes a century-old controversy among the most singular minds of an entire generation of anarchists — Otto Gross, Erich Mühsam, Margarethe Hardegger — over sexuality and the ‘new science’ of psychoanalysis. At stake in the dispute are questions that continue to haunt anarchist thought and practice in the 21st century: What ‘forms’ can and ought libertarian sexual culture take? What constitutes a libertarian politics of marriage and the family? Does psychoanalysis constitute a complement to the anarchist tradition, a crucial supplement to its logic, or a perilous substitute?
Archival data offers rich source material for examining the complicated, and often paradoxical, deployment of the sexual child within protection literature crafted in the Anglophone West during the early 19th century. Drawing on a psychosocial framework, I analyze the affective and ideological subtext of social purity narratives in order to understand how and why it came to feel so natural for reformers and their primary audience – middle-class parents. I argue that the social construction of the sexual child within this discourse rests upon longstanding ideological preoccupations and middle class anxieties regarding class and race distinction. Attempts to secure the myth of middle-class purity through the disavowal of the middle-class child’s autoeroticism functioned as a foundational fantasy in calls for protection. In the end, the construction of the sexual child within this protection movement was largely a figment of middle-class anxiety and defense, but one which nevertheless had and continues to have powerful cultural resonance.
Condoms can be highly successful in preventing transmission of many common sexually transmitted infections, and are integral to many safer-sex campaigns. However, this relatively simple strategy is not effectively utilised, and research demonstrates intense, diverse, but patterned dislikes of condoms. In this article, I provide a discursive analysis of data collected in 15 focus groups on (hetero)sexual health, where condoms were overwhelming discussed in very familiar negative terms. My analysis focuses on a recurrent metaphor – the condom-as-killer – and considers the way the ‘nature’ of condoms but also of heterosex itself is constructed through this metaphor. The metaphor invokes a ‘battle’ between condoms and sex/sexual pleasure, situating condoms and sex as separate, and oppositional. The metaphor effectively constructs condom-wearing-heterosex as not really proper sex at all, providing a powerful conceptual resource for undermining condom use messages.
This article sets out from the perspective that notions of risk and safety and how these intersect with different gendered, sexualized and racialized representations are central to the HIV/AIDS problematic. With migrants and refugees being singled out as some of the most potent disease carriers in Sweden, the article aims to scrutinize representations of identity and difference in a Swedish HIV/AIDS discourse. Concerning the empirical focus, the article is based on an analysis of sexual education material targeting immigrants/refugees in Sweden. The article reveals how Swedish heterosexuality appears as an image of normality in the material. It also discusses how the concept of gender equality becomes an ‘ethnic marker’ that serves to foment racialized differences between ‘Swedes’ and ‘immigrants’. As such, the theme of ‘pleasure and danger’ is discussed with reference to how the intersections of ‘race’, gender and sexuality appear in a Swedish context.
Considering the tolerant and gay-friendly image of the Netherlands, antigay violence is a remarkably grave problem. By combining a broad survey of Amsterdam youth with in-depth interviews with smaller groups and individual attackers and reviewing recent cases, we conclude that traditional norms of gender and sexuality present in broader society form the breeding ground of the violence. The gay-friendly narrative that dominates discussions on citizenship in the Netherlands – opposing the liberal ‘Dutch’ to the Muslim ‘Other’ – coexists next to traditional norms of gender and sexuality, thereby not challenging the roots of homonegativity. Even perpetrators duplicate the prevailing gay-tolerant rhetoric of Dutch society, but do not refrain from all sorts of violence as soon as they are confronted with aspects of it that collide with traditional norms of gender and sexuality. Peer pressure and the fear of seduction often function as triggers of the violence. However, these situational factors can only be understood in a larger macro-sociological framework, showing the necessity of a multilevel approach in coming towards a comprehensive understanding of antigay violence.
Full-text of this article is not available in this e-prints service. This article was originally published following peer-review in Sexualities, published by and copyright SAGE Publications. In the journal Sexualities, Jackson and Scott (2004, ‘Sexual Antimonies in Late Modernity’, Sexualities 7: 233-48) express scepticism that current mores in relation to sexuality are increasingly liberal and ‘open’; instead, they suggest there are a number of antimonies or contradictions evident. One of the themes they raise relates to parental intentions (and ‘failures’) to be ‘open’ about sex with their children. I explore this antimony via data collected from parents about the sex education of their young children. I first describe responses to young children’s verbal questions about sex; the second section considers parental responses to questions raised by ‘protosexual play’. As the negotiations that take place between parents and children reveal, many interventions in this area are actually interesting inversions of a straightforward educational endeavour. Instead of ‘openness’, the forms of parental disclosure and foreclosure of sexual information enact a series of closures or enclosures in relation to the exchange of sexual information in the family. The article goes on to consider possible explanations and effects of these antimonies.
It is widely assumed that late modern societies are becoming progressively more sexually liberal, regardless of whether this is seen as beneficial or not. However, ‘progress’ in this direction is, in actuality, very uneven and gives rise to a number of antinomies and associated anxieties. For example, in a society where erotic imagery is commonplace in the media, there are still enormous anxieties about preserving children’s sexual ‘innocence’ (i.e. ignorance); gay and lesbian chic exists alongside continued homophobic harassment and violence; queer destabilization of heterosexual norms co-exits with claims for inclusion into homosexual institutions; tolerance of pre-marital, even casual, sex and of marital breakdown and serial relationships coexists with intolerance of teenage pregnancy and the continuing reification of monogamy. This article will explore such tensions, raising questions about the continued ‘special status’ of sexuality and sexual relations.
Food and its emotional and political significance pervades autobiographical writing by lesbians. This article traces the connections between food, sexuality and identity through four exemplary texts - Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Audre Lorde’s Zami, Dorothy Allison’s ‘A Lesbian Appetite’ and Anna Livia’s ‘Tongues or Fingers’ - where food is crucial in both defining and contesting lesbian identity, sexuality and community. Food memories and histories are portrayed as constitutive of the self, reaching back to childhood and images of ‘home’. On the other hand, they are also related to the social context of class inequalities and gendered hierarchies. Within these autobiographical narratives, food both constitutes and expresses a sense of self, playing a crucial part in the construction of the writers’ complex, multi-layered narratives of identity.
There is a tendency to efface the theoretical origins of social constructionist approaches to sexuality, with an accompanying tendency to privilege the contribution of Michel Foucault and his followers. Without in any way minimizing Foucault's significance, it is important to recover the earlier attempts to theorize the social and cultural shaping of sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular. In this context Mary McIntosh's article `The Homosexual Role', published 30 years ago, stands out with founding significance. After outlining the central argument of McIntosh's essay, this paper suggests that it is best understood in terms of three key oppositions: between homosexual behaviour and homosexual category; between the pre-modern and the modern; and between heterosexuality and homosexuality. Within this framework, McIntosh's essay can be seen as a crucial moment in the shaping of social constructionism. It is also a key text in McIntosh's own influential body of work, which has consistently attempted to denaturalize the social.