Category Archives: sexuality

kinky, leaky, opaque

A column that was very much fun to write: Kinky, Leaky, Opaque: Sexual Intimacies and Data for ACM’s Interactions with the marvelous Jaz Hee-jeong Choi, and with an illustration from Martyne Miller. Starts with an anecdote of me showing Jaz a visual example of sneaker fucking over dinner (classy) and thinks through technology, sex and domestic space.

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Yul on preorder

Screenshot 2022-09-08 at 16.59.53Yul Brynner: Exoticism, Cosmopolitanism and Screen Masculinity is out end of March, and available now on pre-order (30% discount with the code NEW30).

304 pages, 35 b&w images, and an anal amount of historical print sources!

Yul Brynner’s star image was built on cosmopolitan flair, shifting tales of origin, baldness, as well as film roles as foreign rulers, freedom fighters, army officials, gunslingers and secret agents of ever-shifting ethnicities. Whether Cossacks, marauding pirate captains or cross-dressing torch singers, Brynner’s characters were invariably stand-outs.

This book explores his exotic and masculine star image and its transformations from lavish Orientalist Hollywood spectacles of the 1950s to 1960s European co-productions, 1970s action films and scifi. Extensively researched, it covers the actor’s entire film catalogue, his rumoured yet unrealised projects, television work and stage appearances, as well as their international media reception. Thematically organised, the book inquires after racial casting politics, the construction of sex symbols, Brynner’s humanitarian work and the recurring poses and gestures that characterised his performance style.

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Filed under academic pleasures, media history, sexuality

about sex, open-mindedness, and cinnamon buns

Our article with Jenny Sundén, Katrin Tiidenberg and Maria Vihlman, titled “About Sex, Open-Mindedness, and Cinnamon Buns: Exploring Sexual Social Media“, is just out (on OA) with Social Media + Society. It’s the second joint article coming out from our collaborative project on local sexual platforms, with more to come.

And here’s the abstract: General purpose social media platforms—often incited by American legislation—increasingly exclude sex from acceptable forms of sociality in the abstract name of user safety. This article analyzes interview data (four developer interviews and 56 user interviews) from three North European sexual platforms (Darkside, Alastonsuomi, and Libertine.Center) to explore what follows from including sexual sites in definitions and analyses of social media and, by extension, in including sex in definitions of “the social” itself. We found that instead of context collapse, the users and developers of the studied sites operate with what we call context promiscuity, blending boundaries, but maintaining their structural integrity. This allows for a particular silosociality to emerge based on experiences of safety, risk, and consent. Building on this, we propose thinking of sexual expression as something not contained by, but put in motion across platforms, user cultures, content policies, and sexual norms. Rather than framing sexual social media exchanges in terms of their perceived risks and harms, we would do well to also inquire after the risks and harms involved in ousting sex from networked forms of sociality. Deplatforming of sex truncates our ways of understanding what interests, forces, and attachments drive our sociality. Yet, when analyzing social media as if the socio-sexual matters, platforms designed to support sexual displays and connections become vital nodal points in social media ecologies.

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

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

technopharmacology is out!

Screenshot 2021-11-07 at 19.47.39Co-authored with the excellent Joshua Neves, Aleena Chia and Ravi Sundaram, Technopharmacology is just out with University of Minnesota Press in the In search of media series and as an open access book with Meson Press. The book explores the close relations of media technologies to pharmaceuticals and pharmacology and calls for expanding media theoretical inquiry by attending to the biological, neurological, and pharmacological dimensions of media and centers on emergent affinities between big data and big pharma. My section focuses on diagnoses of online porn addiction and makes an argument for attending to the excitements that make the self. This was fun to make.

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Filed under affect theory, data culture, media studies, sexuality

multiplatform 2022: corporealities

Multiplatform 2022: Corporealities, a Conference on Bodies and Embodiment in Games at the Manchester Metropolitan Game Centre has been moved online due to pending rail strikes. Should you be interested in my keynote on sex, play and networked pleasures on Friday, June 23, Zoom is now an option.

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rethinking dick pics

9780367756413Building on the work we started with the NSFW book, Ben Light, Kylie Jarrett and I just have a fresh article out with Routledge’s Introducing the New Sexuality Studies: Original Essays. 4th Edition, edited by Nancy L. Fischer, Laurel Westbrook and Steven Seidelman. Titled “Rethinking Dick Pics”, it encourages readers to consider dick pics in context. An intro excerpt:

“Although nude selfies of women are seen as indicative of sexual titillation and availability, similar images of men’s bodies – and dick pics in particular – open up a broader and more ambiguous spectrum of interpretations, from sexual invitation to harassment, gendered violence, and humor. Dick pics are therefore part of complicated and diverse socio-technical arrangements so that contextual nuance is necessary for understanding both their intended functions and the experiences that they give rise to. Dick pics certainly can be, and are used as, instruments of gender-based harassment, yet they also come embedded in more diverse and complex – occasionally desired and reciprocal – social exchanges and attachments.”

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Filed under internet research, NSFW, sexuality

workshop: creative methods on digital intimacies, 27 May

GetFileAttachment-1University of Turku, Arcanum A270
Workshop: Creative methods on digital intimacies
27 May 2022, 12-15pm
Join us for a workshop (live + Zoom) on creative methods for doing and communicating research. Our invited speakers will present their respective projects on digital intimacies and their solutions for both distributing their outcomes to the broader public through unconventional means and incorporating artistic inquiry into their palette of methods. We welcome all participants interested in discussing the intersections of research, creative methods and science communication!
Invited talks:
Jamie Hakim (King’s College London) & James Cummings (University of York), Digital Intimacies: using fanzines to communicate research on how queer men use smartphones to negotiate their cultures of intimacy (check out their zine here)
Antonia Hernández (McGill University), Sexcams in a Dollhouse: creating and using an art-based research device
The workshop is organised by the department of Media Studies and the consortium Intimacy in Data-Driven Culture (Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland),

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

panel: why is sex objectionable?

Please join us on Zoom, or in person, should you be in Sydney:

Tue, 26 Apr 2022 • 06:00PM – 07:00PM AEDT (10:00 – 11:00 AM CEST)
Online / Social Sciences Building Seminar Room 210, University of Sydney
Online registration link:

Despite the significance of sexuality in people’s lives, sex is a topic of constant contestation. This panel asks why sex, particularly mediated depictions of sex, are often termed objectionable. Why are female nipples zoned out from social media? Why is porn framed as a social problem? Join us as our experts discuss what is really at stake in platform regulation of explicit content.

Chair: Professor Kane Race (University of Sydney)

Participants: Professor Kath Albury (Swinburne University of Technology), Professor Alan McKee (UTS), Professor Susanna Paasonen (University of Turku/Hunt-Simes Visiting Chair @SSSHARC, University of Sydney)

In person seating is limited so please so please send RSVPs to to ensure your spot.

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Filed under academic pleasures, data culture, internet research, NSFW, porn studies, 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