Seeking Sexual Justice: Global Reactions to the Gentrification of Sex and the Sanitization of Urban Spaces

This session is primarily concerned with the reactions and responses to the purposeful sanitization of our urban spaces and the increasing loss of diverse and inclusive sexual geographies as a result of gentrification. Papers should identify current outlets for sexual expression in our cities that are defying normative expectations. Research might address how we are using sex as a social justice tool to both subvert the attitudes and practices of the dominant culture and to respond to the institutional suppression of sexual expression.

 When sexually charged establishments or sexualized places, for example, bars, theaters, shops, bathhouses, and clubs, start to physically disappear from a particular urban landscape, where do we then turn for sexual opportunities and experiences in our cities? Are sex and sexual opportunities as democratic as they once were? Are certain urban sexual experiences now solely the playground of the powerful, the pretty and the privileged? Where can sexual subcultures continue to flourish in the absence of public spaces dedicated to promoting such acts? Do we still feel the need to self-segregate based on our sexual preferences and interests in a globalized and networked urban space?

 Some might argue that we are now turning to digital platforms to fulfill sexual needs and desires in the 21st century city. Relationships and sexual experiences are just a mere click away on place-based mobile applications and online forums, such as Grindr and Tinder. Papers might also address the shift of urban sexual geographies towards the digital sphere and look at the negotiation between the global and the local in networked urban spaces and its effect on sexual identity politics. Finally, to what extent are the latest trends in urban sexual practices being diffused to smaller cities? Do we still need places like New York, Berlin, Paris, and Amsterdam to exist as physical sexual frontiers in the 21st century?

Andrea Glass, Pennsylvania State University andrealglass@gmail.com, alg178@psu.edu

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