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Leisure Studies
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Sexy spaces: geography and leisure intersectionalities

Jayne Caudwell & Kath Browne
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University of Brighton, UK Published online: 18 Mar 2011.

To cite this article: Jayne Caudwell & Kath Browne (2011): Sexy spaces: geography and leisure intersectionalities, Leisure Studies, 30:2, 117-122 To link to this article:

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Leisure Studies Vol. 30, No. 2, April 2011, 117122

GUEST EDITORIAL Sexy spaces: geography and leisure intersectionalities

Leisure is fundamental to understanding contemporary sexual and gendered identities, lives and communities. These identities, lives and communities are inherently spatialised. The overlaps and intersections of leisure and geographies in the study of the spatiality of sexuality, whilst undoubtedly fruitful, tend to be only sporadically registered. This special issue is a timely contribution to exploring the links between leisure studies and geographies to further develop analyses of space and the sexual. Sexy spaces intends to provoke critical discussion surrounding space, leisure and the sexual. It aims to challenge leisure studies to further consider the possibilities of conceptualising the leisure landscapes of sexual lives and gender, and the sexuality and gender of leisure landscapes. Consequently, the contributions to this special issue deploy sexy as a way to open critical debate regarding sexual relations to power, which produce social difference, injustice, marginalisation and exclusion. In addition to pointing to the erotic and sensual, this issues authors use sexy to contest the heteronormativity of sporting spaces (e.g. Caudwell; Muller Myrdahl) and city street life (e.g. Prickett). They also consider how sexy spaces of gay commercial scenes and Prides are part of, but do not solely define, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans peoples (LGBT) leisure (e.g. Browne & Bakshi; Waitt & Stapel); and they think about what it might mean to be and do sexy as heterosexual women (e.g. Pilcher; Mansfield). Cultural and social geographers often speak of what could be termed leisure landscapes, in terms of consumption, spectacles, socialising and so on; however, in these accounts, the array of ways in which leisure has been explained is often overlooked. Conversely, whilst the spatial turn has impacted on leisure studies and there exist important contributions to theorising leisure and space (e.g. Aitchison, 1999; Aitchison & Jordan, 1998; Crouch, 1999; Scraton & Watson, 2000; Skeggs, 1999; Taylor, 2007), links to geographical thinking and concepts tend to remain underdeveloped. The relatively limited cross-over between leisure, geographies and sexualities is somewhat surprising, given that scholars within leisure studies and geography share interdisciplinary approaches that involve overlap in terms of academic perspectives, methodologies and objects of investigation. There is a great potential to assess the interrelationships. Hence, Sexy spaces makes explicit the shared objects of study, approaches and analyses between the studies of leisure and geography. This special issue promotes interdisciplinary ways of working, which challenge assertions of an absence or at least a dearth in leisure studies regarding investigations of sex, sexualities and sexual lives. The geography of sexualities has developed through two decades of theorisations and empirical investigations. It has moved from the investigations of gay urbanities and rural lives to queer conceptualisations that foreground the spatial and temporal contingency of sexual identities and lives (e.g. Bell & Valentine, 1995;
Leisure 10.1080/02614367.2011.561977 RLST_A_561977.sgm 0261-4367 Taylor 2011 Article 0 2 30 JayneCaudwell 000002011 & and Studies Francis (print)/1466-4496 Francis (online)

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ISSN 0261-4367 print/ISSN 1466-4496 online 2011 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/02614367.2011.561977



Browne, Lim, & Brown, 2007; Johnston & Longhurst, 2010). In contrast, leisure studies initial engagement (e.g. Aitchison, 1999), also during the 1990s, has yet to fully embrace extensive and sustained critical investigation into sexualities. Sexy spaces is the first collection of its kind in leisure studies to bring together critical accounts of the spatiality of sexuality. In choosing the ordering of the seven papers, we attempted to create thematic resonances. The first two papers explore different forms of homophobia that are evident in sport fanscapes. The collection then examines the ways in which urban landscapes and city space are (re)used, (re)constructed and (re)presented. This includes, among other things, a focus on the significance of Pride festivals and leisurely socialising for LGBT people. The final two papers turn to heterosexual geographies, which is often a neglected feature of discussions of sexualities. Hubbard (2008) distinguishes between sexy and unsexy heterosexual geographies. Sexy geographies question moralities and have already drawn the interest of geographers and leisure scholars. Such sexy geographies are present in this collection in the examination of male strip clubs. Unsexy heterosexual geographies an aspect often overlooked in examinations of sexualities are addressed in the final paper, which turns our attention to the normative reiteration of heterosexualities through Jane Fondas fitness books and health advice. We see this collection as a beginning, an opening, rather than an end-point. We pose and answer some preliminary questions, and there is much more to be done. Most notably, while the authors address contexts particular to the UK and Europe, the US, and Australia, there is a marked lack of material that focuses on the Global South (including Africa, Central and Latin America and Asia).1 Our aim is to inspire further discussions to enliven debate in this topic and encourage future examination of the fruitful intersections of geographies and leisure studies. Jayne Caudwell begins this collection with an insightful exploration of the hostile environment of mens football and its fanscapes in the UK. Addressing the lack of spatialised discussions of homophobia, she not only seeks to point to the sights and sounds of such homophobic leisurescapes, but also begins the important work of analysing direct action to address these practices. Arguing that space is fundamental to the ideological and material production of the dominant and normative, Caudwell contends that it is insufficient to call attention to gay male sexuality in sporting landscapes; we must also critically examine heteronormative power relations that create what can be described as the rhetorical territories (Collinson, 2009) of football stadia. She brings to the fore football chants as well as the life and death of Justin Fashanu to help illuminate how footballing spaces are not only very difficult to regulate and survey they are shot through with intersectional forms of discrimination and abuse. She shows that resistances to the norming of equalities and anti-discrimination measures through blatant examples of homophobia, racism and other discriminatory practices recreate specific (white British) heteronormative sporting cultures. Addressing the lack of engagements with mens bodies as embodied sexual spaces, Caudwell points to how the materiality of the body is apparent through the use of anal sex and penetration as a jibe that references passivity, loss and shame. Bringing to light The Justin Campaign, an anti-homophobia project that began in Brighton and Hove (UK) in 2008, Caudwell begins the debate on the (im)possibilities of direct action in contesting the dominant intense, vile and routine acts of abuse and alienation that are commonplace in football stadia across England (as well as further afield).

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Leisure Studies


Tiffany Muller Myrdahl further engages with heteronormative fanscapes by examining the complexities of lesbian visibilities in the Womens National Basketball Association (WNBA) league in the US. More specifically, her research captures the WNBA game space of the Minnesota Lynx in Minneapolis. Muller Myrdahl argues that the marketing strategies deployed in game spaces through the corporate and fiscal aims of the WNBA and Minnesota Lynx reinforce (hetero)normative discourses. Minnesota Lynx fans also regulate their own behaviors because of the perceived threat that lesbian visibility is detrimental to womens professional sport. Drawing from the work of legal scholar Yoshino and his concept of covering, which is the reining in of excesses to fit into a mythical mainstream, Muller Myrdahl explores how lesbian fans employ identity management strategies. For some of the research participants, foregrounding heteronormative families is about good business sense, and game space is seen as naturally straight, not to be disrupted by samesex enactments. Muller Myrdahl finds that contesting heteronormativities through lesbian visibility for some fans implies a lack of loyalty to womens sport. This is because lesbian (in)visibility is seen as making the WNBA commercially vulnerable. Citing a sexist, misogynist and heteronormative article written about a WNBA game, Muller Myrdahl shows the hostility that womens basketball and many other womens sports continue to face in the male-dominated sport media. She conceptualises WNBA fanscapes as reflecting and reproducing a dominant US social climate (and apolitical economic logic (capitalism)) of aggressive heteronormativity that seeks to marginalise and exclude lesbian fans. The collection then takes a turn away from sportscapes but retains an exploration of the ways in which sexuality can be evidenced, enacted and read through leisure landscapes. David James Prickett uses literary analyses to offer historical insights into homosexual bars in Weimar Berlin, Germany (circa 19181933). Taking the trope of sexy spaces in unexpected ways, his analysis of two texts The pious dance (Klaus Mann) and Guide through naughty Berlin (Curt Moreck) reveals the relationships between literary and cultural spatialities in developing urban construction of identities and cultures of homosexual men. As well, the paper forms a bricolage that weaves its way through particular engagements with tourism, travel and leisure to understand the interpellations of literature and city space with the lived experiences of gay tourists to the city (Weimar Berlin). Similar to others who have explored how the transgression of homosexuality is tempered by an engagement with how difference can reiterate normal and how visible spectacles can be diversely consumed, Prickett explores the tensions of urban literary influences in creating, (re)producing and (re)forming homosexual spaces of the city. He supports the affirmed point that urban life can enable social outsiders. The figure of the flneur has long been reclaimed as a gay/homosexual male and indeed lesbian (Munt, 1995) and in exploring the urban labyrinth of Berlin, Prickett presents some of the dichotomies surrounding gay authenticity and gay spectacle. He contends that many supposed modern spatial debates for example, the selling and commodification of gay spaces, the publicly good gay, the place of heterosexual women in supposed gay male spaces and her engaging in voyeuristic practices that consume the erotic escapades of the homosexual men were all present in Weimar Berlin. Returning to contemporary leisure landscapes, Kath Browne and Leela Bakshi engage the views and lived experiences of LGBT communities in Brighton and Hove. Their paper provides an important tour de force of the existing debates surrounding LGBT leisure spaces, and by posing the question, We are here to party?, the authors

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collapse established ways of thinking about leisure spaces as simplistic sexual binaries: straight and heteronormative, or gay and homonormative. The first part of the paper critically explores previous research and inquiry that helped set up an understanding of LGBT space as urban gay space, gay ghetto and/or commercial scene spaces ready to be queered. Importantly, they argue that LGBT socialising and leisure activities do not occur only (or even predominantly) in gay leisure spaces, and they contest the prioritising of commercial space in previous accounts of LGBT socialising. Through a large-scale participatory action research project (Count Me In Too) and focus-group and questionnaire data, Browne and Bakshi demonstrate the significant nuances within Brighton and Hoves LGBT communities. In this special issue, the authors prioritise voices that might have been previously ignored in academic discussions on the spatiality of sexualities. For example, there is invaluable discussion on trans(gender) peoples experiences and lesbian mothers experiences of socialising and social networks. The authors successfully challenge the oppositional positioning of LGBT leisure social space as scene and non-scene and the assumptions that LGBT people access, occupy and experience leisure spaces homogeneously. Their paper provides a scholarly account of the diversities of sexuality, space and socialising. Gordon Waitt and Chris Stapel continue the exploration of LGBT leisure in their consideration of how the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade has different cultural and political meanings for residents of a provincial centre in Queensland (Townsville), Australia. Importantly, the settlement of Townsville is the location for heteromasculine institutions such as the Royal Australian Air Force Base, the Australian Army barracks and the National Rugby League team, the Cowboys. The research participants as permanent residents of Townsville and participants in a larger research project entitled Home and Away access the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade in varying ways. Some of the participants attend the mega event, some watch the Parade on TV either individually or within friendship groups, and others access snippets of the occasion through a range of media productions (including newspaper and TV reports). Waitt and Stapel frame these at-a-distance relationships with the Sydney Mardi Gras within theories of spatiality that strongly contest borders and boundaries as fixed lines on a map. Referencing key feminist theorists such as Doreen Massey, Elspeth Probyn, Gloria Anzalda and Lynda Johnston, the authors craft an analysis that prioritises bodyspace relationships and that highlights the emotionalities of pride, shame, joy and disgust. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the methodology that enables such an approach is narrative research, specifically life narrative and storytelling. The research participants (which in this paper include eight men and four women) provide distinct narratives of their experiences of the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade. These narratives are interpreted through what the authors define as a performative framework to reveal the diverse trajectories and differing alignments of sexuality across Australia. Waitt and Stapel show how emotions and the body are important to any spatial analysis of sexuality and that sexual spaces cannot be thought of as boundaried. In the next paper, Katy Elizabeth Mary Pilcher scrutinises the public leisure space of the male strip show venue. Throughout her discussions, she interrogates the ways in which this leisure space can be perceived by heterosexual women as a sexy space. As with the previous papers, the author provides a unique review of existing debate surrounding space and spatiality, relating this literature to the novel setting of a male strip show. Important questions, vis--vis heterosexual gender relations, are raised, such as who can look and who can gaze? This discussion introduces the

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Leisure Studies


spatial dimension of active looking and gazing with desire. Pilcher explores the possibilities for women to be sexual scrutinisers in a commercial leisure venue. Drawing from a larger ethnographic participant observation research project of a male strip show in a Midlands city, UK, she offers detailed analysis of the ways in which strip show spaces are produced. It becomes evident that the environment and the atmosphere are heavily supervised by the clubs Master of Ceremony (MC) and the male strippers. Some of the women research participants did report feelings of pleasure, desire and empowerment, but most acknowledged that the spatial arrangements of the strip show did little to reverse normative heterosexual gender relations. Pilcher demonstrates how aspects of the male strip show, namely touching, personal dancing and tipping, differ for female strip shows, and how these differences serve to reinforce normative heterosexuality and associated gender relations. For example, women were encouraged to touch male strippers, but women did not have the opportunity to receive personal dancing/stripping and were discouraged from tipping. These interactions within strip-club cultural space position women, stereotypically, as less physically and financially threatening. Pilcher concludes that the commercial strip show venue offers a female space for womens leisure in which socialising with other women is important and reflects female (hetero)sexual solidarity. Moving from the so-called sexy heterosexuality to normative embodiment of heterosexualities, Louise Mansfield further explores the spatiality of womens heterosexuality and implicitly normative heterosexual gender relations through a critical examination of Jane Fondas fitness books (five fitness books were published between 1981 and 1989). Focusing on these self-help female-fitness texts and the spaces of the home and family, Mansfield provides important discussion on leisure, heterosexuality, femininity and the female body. Arguably, the late 1970s and early 1980s were the first commercial zeitgeist for womens embodied and aesthetic physical fitness. Echoing previous contributors approaches in this special issue (e.g. Caudwells introduction of the internal and penetrable spaces of the male body and Pricketts emphasis on historical literary text), Mansfield focuses on both the corporeality of fitness and content analysis of Fondas fitness texts. In this way, she shows how (mostly white) womens (assumed heterosexual) external and internal bodies literally can be made. Additionally, her paper demonstrates the significance of domestic and private leisure spaces in the production of normatively heterosexual and desirable female bodies. Focusing on corporeality and tone, muscle and shape as well as internal bodily contours and textures of, for example, pregnancy and menopause, Mansfield explores the extensive spatiality of the fit female body. Fondas fitness books clearly set down typographies for womens ideal heterosexual bodies (including pregnant, birthing, post-natal, ageing and menopausal bodies). Mansfield, in her blending of critical heterosexual studies, theories of sexuality within sport studies and geographies of corporeality, illustrates the possibilities of such an interdisciplinary approach and analysis to leisure studies. Each of the seven papers discusses space and the spatiality of sexuality in different ways, and then finally, two book reviews, dealing with geographies, leisure and the spatiality of sexuality, complete this special issue of Leisure Studies. All the contributions thus add to the existing literature on geographies of sexualities and the possibilities for leisure studies of sexualities. As the first collection of its kind, this special issue seeks to illuminate the potentiality for working at the intersections of geography and leisure, especially when configuring issues surrounding sexual and gendered identities in ways that do not neglect the importance of other forms of social difference.

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We thank Alan Tomlinson and the British Sociological Association (Leisure and Recreation Study Group) for providing financial assistance to support a one-day seminar (22 May 2009) entitled Sexy Spaces: Leisure and Geography Intersectionalities . This one-day event represents the beginning of the production of this special issue.

1. There are a diverse array of discussions of sexualities in/of the Global South, see Brown,

Browne, Elmhirst and Hutta (2010) for an introduction to some of this literature.

Aitchison, C. (1999). New cultural geographies: The spatiality of leisure, gender and sexuality. Leisure Studies, 18(1), 1939. Aitchison, C., & Jordan, F. (Eds.). (1998). Gender, space and identity: Leisure, culture and commerce. Eastbourne: LSA Publication. Bell, D., & Valentine, G. (Eds.). (1995). Mapping desire: Geographies of sexualities. London: Routledge. Brown, G., Browne, K., Elmhirst, R., & Hutta S. (2010). Sexualities in/of the Global South. Geography Compass, 4(10), 15671579. Browne, K., Lim, J., & Brown, G. (Eds.). (2007). Geographies of sexualities: Theories, practices and politics. Aldershot: Ashgate. Collinson, I. (2009). Singing songs, making places, creating selves: Football songs & fan identity at Sydney FC. Transforming Cultures eJournal, 4(1), 1527. Crouch, D. (Ed.). (1999). Leisure/tourism geographies: Practices and geographical knowledge. London: Routledge Hubbard, P. (2008). Here, there, everywhere: The ubiquitous geographies of heteronormativity. Geography Compass, 2(3), 640658. Johnston, L., & Longhurst, R. (2010). Space, place, and sex: Geographies of sexualities. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Munt, S. (1995). The lesbian Flneur. In D. Bell & G. Valentine (Eds.), Mapping desire: Geographies of sexualities (pp. 104114). London: Routledge. Scraton, S., & Watson, R. (Eds.). (2000). Sport, leisure identities and gendered spaces. Eastbourne: LSA Publication. Skeggs, B. (1999). Matter out of place: Visibility and sexualities in leisure spaces. Leisure Studies, 18(3), 213232. Taylor, Y. (2007). If your face doesnt fit: The misrecognition of working class lesbians in scene spaces. Leisure Studies, 26(2), 161178.

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Jayne Caudwell and Kath Browne University of Brighton, UK