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Area (2006) 38.

1, 99106

Undressing the researcher: feminism,


Blackwell Publishing Ltd

embodiment and sexuality at a queer


bathhouse event
Alison L Bain and Catherine J Nash
Department of Geography, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada K9J 7B8
Email: abain@trentu.ca
Department of Geography, Brock University, St Catharines, Ontario, Canada L2S 3A1

Revised manuscript received 8 November 2005

In this paper we examine how the researchers body can be used as a tool for data
collection in the process of ethnographic fieldwork. We focus in particular on the
tensions inherent in undertaking embodied ethnographic research in the sexualized
setting of a queer womens bathhouse event in Toronto, Canada. Our discussion
addresses three moments within the research process: preparing our bodies to attend the
bathhouse; positioning our bodies within the spaces of the bathhouse; and interacting
with our bodies during the event. Through this discussion we argue that the body of the
researcher is a contested site of knowledge production.

Key words: Toronto, Canada, ethnography, reflexivity, body, sexuality

nessed a rapid growth in theoretical and empirical


Introduction research on the body and on embodiment (Bell et al.
In this paper we explore the role of the body as an 1994; McDowell and Court 1994; Rodaway 1994;
ethnographic research tool. Through an examina- Bell and Valentine 1995; Longhurst 1995 1997;
tion of select moments in our ethnographic field- McDowell 1995; Duncan 1996; Moss and Dyck
work that reveal how we dressed, positioned and 1996 2002 2003; Nash 1996; Pile 1996; Parr 1998
socialized with our researching bodies, we explore 2001; Dewsbury and Naylor 2002; Dyck 2002;
some of the tensions that arose from our experi- Nairn 2002; Crang 2003; Little and Leyshon 2003).
ences as insiders and outsiders, participants and Over the last decade, research on geographies of
researchers, covert and overt ethnographers, and the body has moved from definitions of the body,
sexualized and non-sexualized beings, in a queer to examinations of different conceptual approaches
womens bathhouse event. In so doing, we argue of embodiment, and to explorations of the role of
that tensions, discontinuities and ambiguities are space in constructing embodied subjects (see Little
integral to embodied research. The researching body, and Leyshon 2003; Domosh 1997). Robyn Longhursts
we maintain, cannot be understood as stable or fixed; (1997) work has also been instrumental in categoriz-
rather it needs to be rendered explicitly visible as a ing different theoretical approaches to the body in
contested site of knowledge production. the social sciences. Similarly, the edited collection
Within the discipline of geography, debates about by Heidi Nast and Steve Pile (1998) has been central
the body have a relatively recent history a history to geographical explorations of how bodies and spaces
that has been strongly influenced by feminist scholar- simultaneously (re)create one another. For geogra-
ship. From this feminist starting point, we have wit- phers, the importance of the body goes beyond a

ISSN 0004-0894 The Authors.


Journal compilation Royal Geographical Society (with The Institute of British Geographers) 2006
100 Bain and Nash

superficial appreciation of it as a site or scale for the (2002, 109). It is within this methodological and
study of social practice. Feminist geographers, in theoretical framework that we reflect on some of the
particular, have played a significant role in extend- implications of undertaking embodied ethnographic
ing discussions of embodiment through a focus on research in a sexualized setting. Our discussion is
critical self-reflexivity. structured around three moments within the research
Feminist researchers also have longstanding con- process: preparing our bodies to attend the bathhouse;
cerns about what it means to do feminist research, positioning our bodies (literally and figuratively)
and how it might challenge masculinist approaches within the spaces of the bathhouse; and interacting
to research that have been characterized as disem- with our bodies during the event. To use the words
bodied, objectivist and universalizing (Rose 1997; of Gill Valentine, we hope that by exploring these
Moss 2002). More specifically, feminists have argued moments we might begin to de-center our research
that there is a need for critical engagements in assumptions, and question the certainties that slip
debates about power relations, constructions of into the way we produce knowledge (2002, 126).
authoritative knowledges, and appropriation of
others narratives in the research context. As Pamela
Moss (2002) has documented, feminist research Bodies in place or out of place?
practices in the social sciences require scholars to To date, most ethnographic research on bathhouse
direct attention to the contexts of their research and culture has been written from a gay male perspective
to reflect critically on spatial arrangements, attire, and has been undertaken by individual, usually male,
deportment, relationship-building, and the interplay researchers who have participated in casual sexual
of trust, friendship and authority between researchers practices (e.g. Dangerous Bedfellows 1996; Leap
and participants. However, aside from Gill Valentine 1999). In an effort to provide a different scholarly
(2002), few scholars have addressed the tensions perspective on bathhouse culture we have collabor-
apparent in conducting research in eroticized or ated as researchers on a project that documents the
sexualized contexts, such as a bathhouse. queer spatial politics of the Toronto Womens
Fieldwork and participatory research methods are Bathhouse Committee (TWBC). The TWBC is a non-
fraught with challenges related to the notion of profit organization that in 1998 hosted Canadas
embodiment. As Sarah Oreton argues, fieldwork is first womens bathhouse event the Pussy Palace.
an activity saturated with sensory, corporeal experi- This event, now held on an irregular, bi-annual basis
ences and as such a researchers body, particularly for one night in a gay male bathhouse in Toronto,
the naked or semi-clothed body, is an under-utilized originated as a means to address the invisibility of
and under-theorized data collection tool (2004, queer womens sexuality through the creation of a
305). Yet how can the researcher take advantage of space that supports casual, kinky, and public sex
the body as an ethnographic research tool when the (Gallant and Gillis 2001, 154). The TWBC maintains
naked body is often readily disregarded as unrelia- that the Pussy Palace validates minority sexualities
ble because it is a site of intense and unruly desire? that do not conform to the middle-class norms of
Feminist researchers such as Kim England (2002), private, marital/sanctified (hetero)sexuality (Gallant
Pamela Moss (2002) and Sarah Hill (2004) suggest and Gillis 2001, 156). For the organizers, the Pussy
that through critical reflexivity the body can become Palace is a project of radical queer organizing in
a source of knowledge. which the establishment of a sexy space, such as
Critical reflexivity offers the researcher a way of the bathhouse, encourages new sexual practices and
engaging with questions and issues by thinking about behaviours among lesbians that in turn initiates the
personal beliefs, judgements, perceptions and multiple formation of queer rather than merely lesbian
subject positions in a self-consciously critical manner identities (Nash and Bain in press). The raiding of
and integrating these into the research process the fourth annual Pussy Palace in 2004 by Toronto
(England 2002; Moss 2002). As Karen Al-Hindi and police officers, the laying of charges against two
Hope Kawabata have noted, through reflexivity the volunteer organizers for contravening the Liquor
researcher herself is an instrument of the research Licensing Act, large-scale demonstrations, high-profile
and by extending this practice into the scholarly fundraising events and mainstream media coverage
writing process the reader can then have the oppor- of a week-long public trial that took a year to get to
tunity to decide for themselves what impact the court, brought the activities of the TWBC out of the
individuals life and self has had upon the study closet (Brown 2000) and made them publicly
Undressing the researcher 101

visible (for more detail, see Bain and Nash forth- nist ethic that does not support the exploitation of
coming). Our research focuses on how the process power differentials for personal gain. Collaboration,
of queering space, which is often interpreted as then, provided us with a sense of emotional security,
liberatory, can paradoxically discipline gendered comfort and legitimacy. By attending the event
and sexualized selves. together we consciously and unconsciously super-
Our case study of the Pussy Palace interweaves vised each others behaviours and interactions, and
several qualitative research techniques. Our primary functioned much like symbolic chaperones (Newton
source of data is in-depth, semi-structured interviews 1993, 8) for each other.
with past and present members of the TWBC, business
sponsors and participants. These interviews provided Dressing our bodies
rich, detailed and contextually grounded data In our preparations to attend our first womens
(Nightingale 2003) that we supplemented with a bathhouse event, we both experienced some angst
short survey questionnaire distributed to participants around what clothes we would wear for the evening.
at the June 2004 bathhouse event, and with informal We were not alone in our anxiety. Over the years,
participant observation. We attended two Pussy the TWBC has fielded so many questions formally
Palace events where the majority of participants and informally from participants about appropriate
did not know that we were researchers and, with attire that they post information on the FAQ section
the permission of the TWBC, toured the bathhouse of their website specifically addressing this issue of
during the set up of one event. what to wear:
From our initial conversations as research collab-
You dont have to be naked, if you dont want to be.
orators, we determined that the only way in which
We encourage you to bring something sexy to change
we could do research on a womens bathhouse was into, mainly because we want you to symbolically
to start from how we felt about this new kind of leave behind the daily grind and get into a sexy mood,
space and what we thought it would be like to study but you get to decide what is sexy for you leather,
it. Prior to undertaking this research on the TWBC, lace, flannel, whatever! Nobody is going to make you
neither one of us had ever been to a womens take off your clothes if you dont want to. There is a
bathhouse event. We used interviews, a research swimming pool, so if you dont intend on swimming
technique we were both familiar with, to develop a naked, you could bring a swimsuit. You should also
preliminary understanding of both the organizational know that lots of women will be naked, wearing
history and politics of the TWBC and of the spaces lingerie, making out in public . . . so be prepared for
that. (http://www.pussypalacetoronto.com (Accessed
and activities of the Pussy Palace. During these inter-
1 March 2005))
views with organizers, sponsors and participants,
we were frequently encouraged to attend a Pussy Reading these suggestions reinforced for us our
Palace event to experience the space first-hand. We desire to blend in with other participants. Yet we
decided that participant observation would allow us also recognized that we could be positioned as sexual
to better understand the practices of sexualities and subjects in the eyes of others, and we wanted to
would effectively counterbalance descriptions we communicate that neither one of us was available
had received in interviews. As lesbian women, the to participate in any sexual activities. Through our
nature of the project demanded that we reflect on choice of clothes we sought both to collapse and to
our own embodiment and what it means to place reinforce the spatial distance between ourselves as
our lesbian bodies and identities in deliberately researchers and participants.
sexualized space. Some writing on feminist research methodologies
In undertaking this research we were not looking has explored appropriate dress within fieldwork
for sexual adventures or physical intimacy during settings, acknowledging that how the body is pre-
fieldwork, nor were we looking for sexual partners sented can influence how the researcher is perceived
in the people who were the subjects of our research. and interacted with (McDowell 1995). The research
From the outset, we decided not to use the space of context within which scholars most commonly dis-
the bathhouse fully by having casual sex or actively cuss appropriate attire is in interviews with elites,
participating in any of the sexual activities planned such as executives in business and politics, where
for the event. There were several reasons for this. conservative, formal clothing choices are the norm.
Namely, one of us was in a monogamous, long-term Outside of the office suite and the boardroom, the
relationship and our research is informed by a femi- Feminist Pedagogy Working Group (2002, 126) has
102 Bain and Nash

provided a practical and entertaining list of research was neither particularly revealing of body parts nor
tips on personal presentation in a research setting: overtly sexually playful. One could argue that by
wearing streetwear we were disrupting the ethical
Wear comfortable clothing. flow of sexualized activity within the space of the
Dress in a culturally sensitive manner. bathhouse. To our surprise and relief, there were
Dress specific to research context. other women dressed like us. Although we may have
Wear slip-on shoes. been in the minority, it certainly seemed socially
Dont wear strong scents. acceptable to remain clothed in streetwear at the
Dont smoke unless invited to. bathhouse.
Dont chew gum. The second and third recommendations that the
Wear a watch. Feminist Pedagogy Working Group (2002) makes
Turn off pager or telephone, if applicable. are that the researcher should dress in a culturally
Check teeth for spinach, poppy seeds, etc.! sensitive manner that is specific to the research
context. Cultural sensitivity in this instance would
Their top three suggestions were of particular relev- have us wearing a combination of leather, lace and
ance to our research in the bathhouse. rubber or nothing at all none of which we were
The question of comfort in clothing is an interest- comfortable with. There is clearly a tension
ing one, as it shifts with role and context. Within between issues of comfort and of cultural sensitivity.
the sexualized space of a queer bathhouse we both As researchers we were not very flexible, risqu
felt that we needed to find a comfortable middle or imaginative in our choice of clothing. It was hard
ground between the roles of researcher and observ- for both of us to move beyond familiar presentations
ing participant. Comfort also suggests the ease, the and understandings of ourselves and our bodies.
satisfaction, and the freedom of body and/or mind. Our focus on practicality and psychological and
Freedom was important to both of us. We needed to physical comfort could be described as the antithesis
know that we could walk away from the bathhouse, of queer as presented by the committee members
if it were to be raided by police (as it was in the of the Toronto womens bathhouse. Queer for them
autumn of 2002). In order to make a quick exit, is about flexibility in presentation, openness to dif-
neither one of us wanted to have to search for our ferent forms of sexual expression and playful overt-
clothing in a numbered garbage bag or in a locker. ness with respect to sexual intention. Queer for
We did not bring a change of clothes nor did we them is also about sexual participation and activity.
carry a wallet or a purse. Instead we dressed in a Using these criteria, neither one of us embodied
hotel room, put money and identification in our queer. Neither one of us expressed a rebellious
back pockets, and walked over to the bathhouse sexual identity through dress, enactment or perform-
located several major streets away. Our clothing had ance. Through the most fundamental acts as resear-
to function on the sidewalk in downtown Toronto chers, of choosing what to wear, we challenged the
on a mid-summer evening and also in the bathhouse. very queerness of the space we sought to understand.
Admittedly, what we each felt comfortable walking
down the street in for a short period of time and (Re)positioning our bodies
standing in a queue in, was different. Once we had determined how we would each most
One of us wore Birkenstock sandals, low-rise comfortably dress and present ourselves at the Pussy
combat-style shorts and a tight-fitting black tank top. Palace, we had the privilege (not available to other
The other dressed in the same way that she would participants) of touring the bathhouse space prior
for any other public lesbian social space in the to the event. The Pussy Palace was held in Club
summer months: a loose, cotton t-shirt, black walk- Toronto, a run-down male bathhouse on the margins
ing shorts and sports sandals. In the selection of our of Torontos Gay Village. It consists of two, four-
fieldwork outfits, we both chose casual clothing that storey Victorian homes connected on each floor by
we felt suited us and looked good. This gave us a series of hallways and stairs. The halls are narrow
confidence and perhaps contributed to our sense of and complicated by unexpected turns, dim lighting
ease. It would be fair to say, however, that we both and mirrors. Some corridors are lined with doors
have very limited experience at dressing in an erotic that open into small, private cubicles containing a
or sexy fashion for public consumption. Our clothing, single bed and a small side table. The first floor has
then, while it left parts of our legs and arms bare, a small dance area, a large washroom, a sauna and
Undressing the researcher 103

a whirlpool. The entrance to the outdoor pool is at of his [or her] look (Jeyasingham 2002, 79). As
the back of the first floor. Lockers are found on the Dharman Jeyasingham goes on to explain: Visual
second floor. The third and fourth floors contain a perception confirms distance, while the publicity of
designated sling room and a sadomasochism room. the situation allows interaction across space, and
The ceilings of many rooms are painted black and allows the spatial differences to provide erotic
walls are lined with mirrors to create the illusion of meaning (2002, 79). As researchers we were not
secret spaces and hidden corners where participants seeking to foster the construction of erotic mean-
can discover unexpected scenes of sexual play. We ing, nor did we linger in a space with the sole
explored these spaces together as researchers when purpose of watching women have sex. The complex
the organizers were in the process of setting up the relationship between ethnography and voyeurism in
Pussy Palace. With the lights on and music quietly an eroticized setting where voyeurism is actively
playing, TWBC organizers efficiently set up rooms, encouraged is one that we are still trying to concep-
arranged food tables and displays, and chatted tually unravel.
informally with each other and us. In such a Faced with the undeniably sexual atmosphere and
business-like atmosphere, the bathhouse lost much our own ambiguous presence, we both instinctively
of its mystery and potential seductiveness, allowing used the role of researcher as a cover because it
us to feel a greater sense of ease in and familiarity provided a sense of psychological safety and protec-
with the space. tion. The role of researcher allowed us to temporarily
When the doors of the bathhouse opened to par- ignore some of the emotional risks associated with
ticipants, we initially followed the flow of women being in such a sexualized space: sensitivities about
from the entrance to the locker room. We quickly the size, form and texture of our own bodies and
realized that as we had no intention of changing our their visibility to others; our potential attraction to
clothes we ought to position ourselves around what other women; and whether we might be considered
we felt to be the most open and comfortable social attractive or of interest to other participants. Many
space the pool and deck area at the rear of the of these concerns we purposefully ignored by ver-
building. We ultimately seated ourselves cross- bally and mentally retreating into an analytical
legged beside the pool with our backs to the patio researching role. In our conversational interactions
wall. This could be interpreted as a defensive tactic with each other we were busy deconstructing spaces
because it allowed us a full view of the outdoor patio and activities and taking mental fieldnotes; this left
space and fire escape, while not allowing anyone to little time or opportunity to dwell on, or even dis-
approach us unnoticed. Shortly after we arrived, we cuss, personal insecurities.
circulated together through the various interior In our roles as researchers and participants in the
spaces of the bathhouse. One behind the other, tak- bathhouse we moved between covert and overt
ing purposeful strides, we took advantage of the fact ethnography. Our understanding of covert ethno-
that we looked like a couple (thus attempting to graphy is informed by Hester Parrs (1998) work on
avoid sexual advances from others) to explore the people with mental health problems. She interprets
bathhouse again. Indoors, lights had been dimmed covert ethnography as a process of participating
and bodies in various stages of undress jostled and with, and observing, people and settings, without
brushed up against one another to peer into rooms informed consent for the purposes of research (Parr
and to squeeze past one another in narrow hall- 1998, 29). She goes on to explain how the simplis-
ways. The space had become disconcertingly and, tic distinction between covert ethnography as bad
occasionally, awkwardly intimate. Our sense of because it is non-consensual and overt ethnography
awkwardness was augmented by the notion that our as good because it is open and consensual is prob-
ethnographic research could be interpreted as lematic because it positions these research practices
voyeurism. Admittedly, bathhouses present an ideal in opposition, when they should be understood as
environment for observational research because, inherently intertwined and central to the production
like the sexologist Charles Moser has explained with of geographic knowledge. While the notion that
respect to his ethnographic research on sadomaso- covert ethnography and overt ethnography are inter-
chistic parties, voyeurism is common and even related is conceptually useful, in practice we found
encouraged (1998, 20). Much like participant it difficult, as other researchers have also documented
observation, the activity of voyeurism involves cre- (e.g. Visweswaran 1994; Moss 1995), to manage the
ating distance between the watcher and the object movement between the two.
104 Bain and Nash

Disciplined interactions with our bodies fact, sometimes our initial response was one of shock
Within the bathhouse the majority of the parti- or surprise. We were expected to rise to the unspoken
cipants did not know we were researchers and in challenge of reconfiguring our interactions to be
many ways we thought we were relatively successful more casualized and flirtatious. We were expected
at blending in in terms of our dress and self- to break out of our research pair to circulate through
presentation. While our success depended to some the space of the bathhouse alone so as to initiate
degree on a politics of deception (Parr 1998, 34), sexual possibilities. By rarely separating, however,
it is important to note that: neither one of us made we were challenging Pussy Palace etiquette which
significant modifications to our familiar presenta- disciplined participant bodies by asking individuals
tions of self in order for our bodies to be read in to:
similar ways as those of other participants, nor did
we participate in activities that we felt inappropriate Be friendly and flirty. Do not stick with a large group
for our own lives. When directly asked by parti- of friends all night. Walk around by yourself. You are
cipants how we heard about the bathhouse and not going to pick up or get picked up if you are
surrounding by a posse. Take a chance and chat up
why we were there, we were forthcoming about our
that cute girl in the whirlpool. If everyone is afraid to
research purposes and whenever possible provided make the first move, then nothing is going to happen.
contact information. Nevertheless, some aspects of (http://www.pussypalacetoronto.com (Accessed 1
our presence felt dishonest and exploitative. As March 2005))
researchers we remained unidentified and perhaps
appeared unwilling to participate in more than a Our goals as researchers were different; we had no
voyeuristic and consumptive way. We may have intention of deliberately attracting the attention of
appeared to circulate through the space to consume participants or seeking sexual intimacy with others.
people, behaviours, activities and emotions for Several informants asked us directly whether we
academic gain. Our only immediate contribution had participated in any of the sexual activities that
back to the individuals who crossed our paths was a had been planned by the organizers of the event
form of support for their choices conveyed simply (e.g. erotic massage, g-spot discovery, sexual coun-
by our presence in the bathhouse and by our use of selling, lap dances). Others seemed to watch from
smiles and eye contact with other participants. Our afar, to see how open, available and vulnerable we
own bodies, like theirs, had become embedded in were willing to be. The authoritative queer gaze of
the space of a political project. In some respects several of the organizers whom we had interviewed
then, our covert research practices placed us in direct identified us as researchers, observers and outsiders.
opposition to the emancipatory aims of feminist The collective gaze of the organizers operated as a
research methodologies and feminist theorizations regulatory mechanism that disciplined unruly or
of the body that have informed our training as disruptive bodies to cultural codes and social pro-
scholars. We have had a difficult time reconciling tocols. Did the organizers interpret our bodies as
these positions. researchers as unruly and disruptive bodies because
Throughout the course of the evening, the awk- of all of our apparent inhibitions and reservations?
wardness of the transition between covert and overt The gaze of the organizers, in conjunction with
research became particularly apparent when we ran some informal conversations, seemed to convey the
into members of the TWBC whom we had previously sentiment that we were not being honest in our
interviewed in the more formal settings of homes, research if we did not participate, because we were
businesses and restaurants when they had been fully not completely using the space in the ways they
clothed. Within the space of the bathhouse these had envisioned. Later, in our debriefing discussions
same bodies were now deliberately on display, about the experience, we felt some concern that our
carefully staged in a cultivated space for a select credibility as researchers might have diminished in
group of women to consume some fleshy and the eyes of our informants because of our perceived
unsculpted, others taut and defined by muscle. Our lack of involvement. Despite admonishments by
informants had stylized their queerness in such a feminist researchers such as Heidi Nast that reflex-
way as to present themselves as spectacles of self- ivity means letting go, allowing for the possibility of
expression and agency. We were expected to valorize being out of control (1998, 94), neither one of us
the diversity and multiplicity of body shapes and sizes felt capable of or comfortable with substantially
on display as sexualized bodies of desire when, in blurring the line between researcher and participant
Undressing the researcher 105

within an eroticized setting. We both firmly believed confounding normalized ways of doing and being.
Sarah Oretons argument that intimate contact, Engagement in certain kinds of sexualized experi-
between those in positions of power in social ences thought to be or represented as unfamiliar
research is inappropriate, unethical, and unprofes- and new to participants was designed to remake
sional (2004, 306). Yet to remain apart also raises previously understood constitutions of selves (iden-
the question of the validity of our work in the con- tity) and self (subjectivity). Both of us experienced
text of whether the research results fairly and accu- the space as a challenge to our selves and our
rately reflect the aspects of social life we claim they identification as lesbians. Our experiences raised
represent (Acker et al. 1993, 145 in Al-Hindi and awkward questions about whether we could or
Kawabata 2002, 104). Can we truly be said to should explore alternative self-understandings as
understand the TWBCs regulation of us in their queer rather than lesbian.
project to queer space? In other words, how can we Perhaps we have already unconsciously challenged
assess the success of the TWBCs project within our the singularity of our lesbian identification and
own embodied ways of knowing and being in the extended the boundaries of our comfort zone simply
world which we negotiated in order to experience by attending several bathhouse events. With each
the very project we were studying? event we have both felt more at ease in the space,
and more at ease within our own bodies as well as
with the bodies around us. Much like other partici-
Conclusions pants, our lesbian bodies have been partially disci-
In this paper we have raised more questions than plined by the codes of conduct and etiquette
answers in an effort to interrogate the partiality of established by the TWBC. While we may not have
knowledge. We have demonstrated how the mater- actively participated in the games of sexual foreplay,
iality of the researchers body can neither be we are now familiar with the rituals and expectations
ignored nor taken for granted in the production of of participation and the sexualized performances we
knowledge because it is deeply embedded in a can expect to see within a sex-positive space. We
complex interplay of powers at play in the research have gradually become more comfortable in queer
setting. Through a discussion of how we dressed our bathhouse space, which is part of the objective of
bodies, positioned them, and interacted with them the TWBC in establishing new norms or under-
(and other bodies that were dressed and positioned) standings around public displays of queer sexuality.
in the field, we have explored some of the tensions While we are beginning to understand the process
that arose from our experiences as insiders and out- of queering space, and the challenge it poses to
siders, participants and researchers, covert and overt singular identities and subjectivities, our increasing
ethnographers, and sexualized and non-sexualized comfort level and understanding of queer space
beings in a queer women bathhouse event. As self- demonstrates that our bodies as researchers and
identified lesbians we were both inside and participants can be both disciplined by the space
outside the Pussy Palace project of queering space and the bathhouse organizers and can resist the
and queering identities. While we could understand disciplining power of queer space as we use the
and empathize with participants experiences and space for our own research ends.
viewpoints and while our bodies conveyed both
sameness and difference (Valentine 2002), in our
interior dialogues and conversations with each other Acknowledgements
we have struggled with what Kath Browne has We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their
described as assumptions of sameness in categories detailed and constructive feedback on an earlier draft of
of sexualities (2003, 135). this manuscript.
In our discussions, we both realized that how we
understood ourselves as possessing singular lesbian
identities inscribed and operationalized within References
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