Association of American Geographers’ (AAG) Annual Meeting
San Francisco, USA
29 March – 2 April 2016
Sex and the City: Reactionism, Resistance and Revolt
Sponsored by the Sexuality and Space Specialty Group (SxSSG) of the Association of American Geographers
Dr. Paul J. Maginn (UWA) – @planographer
Dr. Emily Cooper (Northumbria) – @e_cooper2
Dr. Martin Zebracki (Leeds) – @zebracki
Prof. Clarissa Smith (Sunderland) – @DrClarissaSmith
The presence and regulation of sexualised bodies, sexuality, sex work/erotic labour, porn and BDSM/fetish in the city has taken an interesting turn in the 21st century. For some, it is argued that we have entered a period of hyper-sexuality whereby highly sexual imagery and ‘deviant’ sexual practices have given rise to a pornified culture where plastic bodies (and products) engage in ‘unspeakable acts’. This has led to calls for the filtering/banning of internet pornography and the criminalisation of the recording/distribution of certain sexual acts (e.g. face sitting, fisting and female ejaculation). Relatedly, anti-porn activists have pushed for the introduction of mandatory condom use in porn production in California. Simultaneously, adult entertainment performers/producers have resisted such proposals arguing that pre-existing testing regimes for STIs and HIV/Aids are more than sufficient and that overregulation will push the porn industry to relocate elsewhere.
In relation to sex work/prostitution various (conservative) politicians and radical feminist organisations have advocated the introduction of the ‘Swedish model’ proclaiming that it will ‘end demand and exploitation’ and ‘stop human trafficking’. Canada and Northern Ireland have recently adopted this regulatory approach. There have been high-profile raids and/or restrictions of brothels/massage parlours in places such as Soho (London) and Edinburgh (Scotland) and online escort websites such as Redbook, Backpage and Rentboy in the US, often under the glare of the media. The conflation of human trafficking and sex work as one and the same issue is challenged by International bodies such as WHO, UN AIDS, the ILO, Amnesty International, and sex workers/sex work advocacy groups who have all called for sex work to be decriminalised.
There have been calls for other forms of sexual imagery (e.g. Page 3 in The Sunnewspaper and ‘lads magazines’ in newsagents) and adult entertainment (strip clubs/lap-dance bars) to be banned or closed down. LGBT relationships have also been under the spotlight in recent years. Whilst Ireland recently moved to legalise same-sex marriage via a referendum, Northern Ireland and Australia have steadfastly refused to move forward on this issue. Interestingly, despite the various calls to ‘stop porn/raunch culture’ an increasing number of people appear to be consuming and/or engaging in different forms of sexual practices. For example, BDSM/fetish/kink practices appear to have gripped suburbia if sales of 50 Shades of Grey and sex toys are any measure of society’s sexual inquisitiveness.
Ultimately, what we appear to be seeing is a kaleidoscopic (sub)urban sexscape wherein the tectonic plates of conservatism/feminism/religion and capitalism/individualism are locked in deep socio-political competition with one another in relation to all matters pertaining to sex and sexuality. This special session, then, seeks papers that speak to the ideas of (i) Geographies of Reactionism; (ii) Geographies of Resistance; and (iii) Geographies of Revulsion/Revolt as they apply to the social/cultural/economic/historical meanings, consumption/production/distribution and regulation of sexual imagery, sexuality, adult retailing/sex shops; sex work/prostitution; adult entertainment/erotic labour, pornography and BDSM/fetish/kink practices within urban, suburban, rural and virtual spaces.
We welcome abstracts/papers by scholars and research-minded sex workers/sex work activists, adult entertainment performers/activists as well as those who oppose/campaign against the ‘sex industry’ from a range of ideological/theoretical/methodological/empirical standpoints.
If you are interested in taking part in this special session please send your title and a 250 word (maximum) abstract to the co-convenors at GeoSex16@gmail.com by no later than 23 October 2015. Full details on abstract submissions here: http://www.aag.org/cs/annualmeeting/call_for_papers.