Category Archives: feminist media studies

Natalie Wood Day

Co-authored with Tanya Horeck, our article “Natalie Wood Day”: Sexual Violence and Celebrity Remembrance in the #MeToo Era is freshly out with Celebrity Studies. Not on open access, alas, but here’s a manuscript version at least. The abstract reads like this:

This article inquires after the ethics of posthumous outing and networked forms of remembrance connected to public figures accused of, or having admitted to, sexual violence and domestic abuse. Focusing on the obituary politics surrounding the 2020 deaths of Kirk Douglas, Kobe Bryant, and Sean Connery, it explores the forms that a feminist ethics of disclosure and memorialisation might take in the #MeToo era. Contra the popular tendency of othering sex offenders as exceptional ‘monsters,’ #MeToo’s affective and discursive force lies in framing sexual violence as unextraordinary, banal, and ubiquitous. In what follows, we make a case for forms of remembrance acknowledging that a person can simultaneously be an accomplished professional, a loving parent, and a rapist, so that one aspect of one’s being and actions need not require silence over others. Reflecting on what it means to remember public figures in their totality, we flag the importance of attending to the social, cultural, political, economic, and historical contexts that have contributed to the prominence, and subsequent remembrance of individuals. We argue that such a contextual move makes it possible to see the individual public figure within the social networks and hierarchies that have allowed, or disallowed, patterns of behaviour.

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Filed under cultural studies, feminist media studies, internet research

locating sex

Locating Sex: Regional Geographies of Sexual Social Media, the first article on our study of Swedish, Estonian and Finnish sexual platforms with Jenny Sundén, Katrin Tiidenberg and Maria Vihlman, is out on OA with Gender, Place & Culture. This is a collab between the Rethinking Sexuality project and the IDA consortium, with more to follow. Here’s the abstract:

Contributing to the field of the geographies of digital sexualities, this article explores the geosocial dimensions of digital sexual cultures by analyzing three regionally operating, linguistically specific social media platforms devoted to sexual expression. Drawing on case studies of an Estonian platform used primarily for group sex, a Swedish platform for kink and BDSM, and a Finnish platform for nude self-expression, we ask how these contribute to and shape sexual geographies in digital and physical registers. First, we focus on the platforms as tools for digital wayfinding and hooking up. Second, we consider how the platforms help to reimagine and sexualize physical locations as ones of play, and how this transforms the ways of inhabiting such spaces. Third, we analyze how the platforms operate as sexual places in their own right, designed to accommodate certain forms of display, relating, and belonging. We argue, in particular, that these platforms shape how users imagine and engage with location by negotiating notions of proximity and distance, risk and safety, making space for sexual sociability. We approach geographies of sexuality both through the regional and linguistic boundaries within which these platforms operate, as well as through our participants’ sense of comfort and investment in local spaces of sexual play. As sexual content is increasingly pushed out of large, U.S.-owned social media platforms, we argue that locally operating platforms provide a critical counterpoint, allowing for a vital re-platforming of sex on a regional level.

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Filed under data culture, feminist media studies, internet research, NSFW, sexuality

short-lived Play

As part of our recently finished research project, Sexuality and Play in Media Culture, Laura Saarenmaa and I explored Leikki (Play), a mid-1970s Finnish sex magazine for women. This lead us to consider popular sex ed of the era, feminist affiliations and methodological challenges. The outcome is now out as “Short-Lived Play: Trans-European Travels in Print Sex Edutainment”, on open access with Media History. And here’s the abstract:

Media history is still written largely from national perspectives so that the role of import and export, translations and franchises is seldom foregrounded. On geographically and linguistically limited markets, imported materials have nevertheless been crucial parts of popular print culture. This paper explores the market of ‘sex edutainment’ magazines in 1970s Finland, zooming specifically in on Leikki (‘Play’, 1976), a sex magazine for women translated from the Norwegian Lek (first launched in 1971) that provided knowledge on topics ranging from marriage to masturbation and lesbian desire. Through contextual analysis of Leikki, a marginal publication that has basically faded from popular memory, this article attends to ephemeral and even failed print media in order to account for the heterogeneity of the 1970s sex press market as it intermeshed with sex advice and education. In so doing, it adds new perspectives to a field largely focused on successful periodicals and addresses knowledge gaps resulting from the exclusion of the sex press from mainstream media historiography.

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Filed under academic pleasures, feminist media studies, media studies, play, sexuality

Sydney

Until end of April, I am Visiting Professor at University of Sydney’s Faculty of Arts and Social Science as Hunt-Simes Visiting Chair in Sexuality Studies. My visit includes PhD workshops, a public lecture (tba), as well as collaboration with the local research community and my most excellent host, Professor Kane Race, broadly on the topic of sexuality and social media content regulation. Very exciting.

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Filed under academic pleasures, cultural studies, data culture, feminist media studies, internet research, sexuality

sex in the shadows of celebrity

Our short piece on shadowbanning, Sex in the Shadows of Celebrity, written together with the wonderful Dr Carolina Are, is out on OA with Porn Studies as part of a forthcoming special issue on the deplatforming of sex in social media. Here’s the abstract:

Shadowbanning is a light censorship technique used by social media platforms to limit the reach of potentially objectionable content without deleting it altogether. Such content does not go directly against community standards so that it, or the accounts in question, would be outright removed. Rather, these are borderline cases – often ones involving visual displays of nudity and sex. As the deplatforming of sex in social media has accelerated in the aftermath of the 2018 FOSTA/SESTA legislation, sex workers, strippers and pole dancers in particular have been affected by account deletions and/or shadowbanning, with platforms demoting, instead of promoting, their content. Examining the stakes involved in the shadowbanning of sex, we focus specifically on the double standards at play allowing for ‘sexy’ content posted by or featuring celebrities to thrive while marginalizing or weeding out posts by those affiliated with sex work.

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Filed under academic pleasures, data culture, feminist media studies, NSFW, sexuality

“We watch porn for the fucking, not for romantic tiptoeing”

My article is just out with the Porn Studies journal, on open access. Titled “We watch porn for the fucking, not for romantic tiptoeing”: extremity, fantasy and women’s porn use, it addresses gendered generalisations pertaining to porn preferences through survey data and is part of a forthcoming special issue on extremity. The abstract goes like this:

This article examines the appeal of extreme imageries through a 2017 journalistic survey of 2438 participants on Finnish women’s approaches to, opinions on and preferences in porn, with a specific emphasis on responses addressing preferences deemed extreme. The respondents regularly positioned these pornographic fantasies in relation to the assumed tastes of other women while also addressing the complex and ambivalent roles that porn played in their ways of making sense of their sexual selves. By focusing on disconnections articulated both towards the category of women and within one’s sexual self when accounting for the attractions of extremity, this article also questions the ‘will to knowledge’ underpinning popular queries into women’s pornographic likes, asking how such data can be productively explored without reproducing the binary gender logic that structures it.

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sexual objects, sexual subjects and certified freaks

Screenshot 2021-06-14 at 19.49.42Written together with Feona Attwood, Clarissa Smith, Alan McKee and John Mercer, our article both recapping and elaborating on our argument in the Objectification book that came out last year, Sexual Objects, Sexual Subjects and Certified Freaks: Rethinking “Objectification” is just out today with MAI: Feminism and Visual Culture. It is written with pedagogical purposes in mind so as to be accessible to undergraduate students, and is on open access.

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“old dirty pops and young hot chicks”

UntitledEdited by Cosimo Marco Scarcelli, Despina Chronaki, Sara De Vuyst & Sergio Villanueva Baselga, Gender and sexuality in the European Media: Exploring Different Contexts through Conceptualisations of Age is very freshly with Routledge in ECREA’s Routledge Studies in European Communication Research and Education series. Featuring an excellent range of stuff, it also includes my ‘“Old dirty pops and young hot chicks”: Age differences in pornographic fantasies’. The abstract goes something like this:

As a genre, pornography has long highlighted embodied differences and juxtaposed different bodies in terms of their size, degrees of hairiness or muscularity, skin colour and tone. Building on a 2017 survey charting pornographic preferences, likes and dislikes among Finnish women, this chapter focuses on age differences in particular and investigates the ageing male body as an ambivalent, simultaneously attractive and repulsive pornographic fantasy figure. It asks how age differences feed into dynamics of control and submission in pornographic imageries, how ageing bodies function as markers of extremity and authenticity and how the survey respondents, the majority of them in their 20 and 30s, negotiate gaps between their pornographic preferences and other sexual likes. Emphasizing the specific role and function of sexual fantasies, the respondents describe the appeal of older male bodies as sites of disgust and taboo transgression to be enjoyed from a distance, and the scenarios they enjoy as drawing their force from social hierarchies and from breaching the norms of sexual acceptability and normalcy.

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Filed under cultural studies, feminist media studies, media studies, porn studies, sexuality

‘I feel the irritation and frustration all over the body’

Our article with Mari Lehto, titled ‘I feel the irritation and frustration all over the body’: Affective ambiguities in networked parenting culture is freshly out with The International Journal of Cultural Studies, on open access. The fieldwork was all Mari’s, and here’s the abstract:

This article investigates the affective power of social media by analysing everyday encounters with parenting content among mothers. Drawing on data composed of diaries of social media use and follow-up interviews with six women, we ask how our study participants make sense of their experiences of parenting content and the affective intensities connected to it. Despite the negativity involved in reading and participating in parenting discussions, the participants find themselves wanting to maintain the very connections that irritate them, or even evoke a sense of failure, as these also yield pleasure, joy and recognition. We suggest that the ambiguities addressed in our research data speak of something broader than the specific experiences of the women in question. We argue that they point to the necessity of focusing on, and working through affective ambiguity in social media research in order to gain fuller understanding of the complex appeal of platforms and exchanges.

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Filed under academic pleasures, affect theory, cultural studies, feminist media studies, internet research, media studies

shameless dicks

A new special issue edited by Gaby David and Amparo Lasén on Shame, Shaming and Online Image Sharing is just out with First Monday, with loads of stuff I’m looking forward to reading. It also includes an article we did with Jenny Sundén, titled Shameless dicks: On male privilege, dick pic scandals, and public exposure. And here’s the abstract:

Academic debates on shame and the involuntary networked circulation of naked pictures have largely focused on instances of hacked accounts of female celebrities, on revenge porn, and interconnected forms of slut-shaming. Meanwhile, dick pics have been predominantly examined as vehicles of sexual harassment within heterosexual contexts. Taking a somewhat different approach, this article examines leaked or otherwise involuntarily exposed dick pics of men of notable social privilege, asking what kinds of media events such leaked data assemble, how penises become sites of public interest and attention, and how these bodies may be able to escape circuits of public shaming. By focusing on high-profile incidents on an international scale during the past decade, this article moves from the leaked shots of male politicians as governance through shaming to body-shaming targeted at Harvey Weinstein, to Jeff Bezos’s refusal to be shamed through his hacked dick pic, and to an accidentally self-published shaft shot of Lars Ohly, a Swedish politician, we examine the agency afforded by social privilege to slide through shame rather than be stuck in it. By building on feminist media studies and affect inquiry, we attend to the specificities of these attempts to shame, their connections to and disconnections from slut-shaming, and the possibilities and spaces offered for laughter within this all.

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Filed under affect theory, data culture, feminist media studies, internet research, sexuality