Presentation on Sexualities and Spaces

This week, we are focusing on gendered sexualities in public spaces. We are focusing on four authors that define this relationship in regard to representation, politics and social norms.

Gill Valentine focuses on what she calls the “Heterosexual Street”. She prefers to use the term “street” rather than “public space” as she believes the latter term has specific connotations she does not wasnt associated with her text. Valentine’s article is divided into four sections. In the first, she defines the heterosexual street by referring to 2000px-HeteroSym-pinkblue2.svgJudith Butler and her concept of gender regularity through repetitive gender performativity. She begins her article by referencing a 1991 incident in Nottingham where two lesbians were kicked out of a supermarket for kissing in public. In the second and third sections, Valentine describes two ways in which homosexuals create their own space within the heterosexual street. She discusses subtle cues in ways that lesbians communicate and relate to each other, such as music or language. She refers to other authors and agrees with them when stating that there are certain “ways” to find another lesbian on the street. In the next section, she begins to discuss the more “in your face” ways of representing homosexuality on the heterosexual-leaning street such as pride marches. She believes these are more effective in gathering attention. In the fourth and last section, she concludes with the title, “A kiss is not just a kiss,” comparing the public views of gendered performance of heterosexuality and homosexuality in the “heterosexual street.” It is unfortunate that many people see homosexuality as present only through these acts instead of being a natural everyday occurrence.

Ik8601109n the XIXth century “the prostitute” was considered an identity, not behavior. The trans prostitute heroes of Stonewall were unsung. Leigh stood up against Dworkin’s slut-shaming. Millet means well but believes prostitutes’ problem is self-image. The transphobia of sex-negative reformers is not incidental. Reformers target representations of prostitution instead of its social causes. Official transnational organizations favor decriminalization, and shared stories represent a risk of incrimination in trials. Sex work consists of escorting, hustling, domination, stripping and camming. It is overlooked as a female criminal service work. Labor range allows for the negotiation of exposure. Sex panic creates work for investigators and uncomfortably exposes the nature of work in general. Reformers can’t imagine girls as sellers themselves. Targeting advertising stands in for help while removing control from working women and risks affecting all online speech. Reformers have relied on bogus studies against prostitution, and sex work migrated online when its neighborhoods were gentrified.


In The Lesbian Flaneur, author Sally Munt describes the difference between living in the U.K. towns of Brighton and Nottingham; in the former, she is comfortable and confident in expressing her lesbian identity in public spaces, while the town of Nottingham makes her feel humiliated and stared at. Munt begins navigating her sexuality through literature (or “fictional voyages”) since she can no longer roam literal spaces with the same freedom she once had. This can be compared to author Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical graphic novel Fun Home, in which the protagonist discovers and explores her sexuality through books, using literary spaces to grow.

Lawrence Knopp defines two terms, sexuality and space, through a field of study within human geography. He discusses urbanism, gentrification and sexual codings within this field of study. Gender based divisions of labour characteristic of many cities both shape and are shaped by people’s sexual lives. Knopp develops a framework of relationships between certain sexualities and certain aspects of urbanization in the contemporary West. To understand urbanism, Knopp divides it into three terms: materialist, idealist and humanist. Knopp refers to the train of thoughts of Henning Bech, a humanist, and Elizabeth Wilson. Both Bech and Wilson suggest one link between these sexualisations and power relations: changes in gender relations.


1. Can you give examples of gay gentrified communities?

2. Do you agree with Gill Valentine that ‘in your face’ tacts are the most effective in modifying the heterosexual street? What are other ways can you modify heterosexual space?

Daniel Bedard

Jean-François Bussier

Jessica McKnight

Frederique Rajotte


One comment

  1. I was thinking a lot about the question why it is so hard for the society to legitimize sex-work and approach it as one of the many other works without putting on it clichés and expectations. To my opinion, aside from different reasons related to what we were discussing in our first classes (woman’s body as a potential threat, the idea of interrelatedness of pleasure and peccability) there is one more important thing. It is an assumption that every good must be achieved in the sweat of one’s brow, the idea of delayed gratification – work hard, contribute many and you will be rewarded. In this interview the anthropologist David Graeber speaks about the Western society wallowed in bureaucracy, which perhaps constitutes the only possible framework for the labor. He argues that every profession dealing with something real (such as teaching) inevitably causes irritation from those who spend too much time producing nothing real but paper. I would work up the courage to assume that this idea may also be projected on the sex-work since sex-workers obviously do real things. The very existence of the legitimate workers who for some reasons chose a profession that does not require any education cost-intensive in terms of time, money and effort; or special background, or useful liaisons, or justification for what they do – is too disturbing to be accepted. It is presumably too hard to include them in public discourse because they undermine the bureaucratic understanding of usefulness and purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

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