Category Archives: Sexuality

A cover image for GLQ

In January 2011, the special issue of: GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, Rethinking Sex, (Volume: 17, Issue: 1, edited by Ann Cvetkovich, Annamarie Jagose, Heather K. Love) featured my artwork on the cover. I was commissioned to reproduce an image from the 1982 Diary of a Conference on Sexuality which accompanied the conference “Towards a politics of sexuality”, organised by Carole Vance. My photograph tried to be faithful to the original (its beauty and atmosphere) but at the same time bring something of the present into it.

The issue marks the influence of Gayle Rubin’s canonical essay (Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality, 1984) on gender and sexuality studies. Heather Love (2011) notes how the debates about porn, S/M, and butch/femme in the late 1970s and early 1980s (the so called ‘sex wars’) connect with queer theory and politics. She suggests that we need to acknowledge the debt of sexuality studies, in its contemporary form, to feminism.

Remediation & genderqueer online at the Staging Illusion conference

Registration is now open for the Staging Illusion: Digital and Cultural Fantasy conference, which is organised by my colleague Russell Pearce and others in the Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies & the Centre for Material Digital Culture at Sussex Uni.

I’ll be giving a paper on the The remediation of real bodies in genderqueer online porn: politics, control and affective labour. See abstract below and the conference tumblr blog here:

Abstract :

Online environments and web 2.0 platforms today appear as sites of experimentation and as opportunities to construct brand new sexual identities. The websites of queer alternative porn production companies increasingly employ the language of ‘real’ bodies. This opens up questions about the mediation of social meanings about queer and women in these sites. What kinds of publics are forming around this mediation?

Recent studies of online queer porn production have focused on questions of user authenticity (Attwood, 2010; Mowlabocus, 2010). These are concerned with the incompatibility between embodied actuality and ideal fluid cybersubjectivity (Wakeford, 2002; O’Riordan, 2007). However apart from user control, issues of authenticity in online queer alternative porn can be fruitfully thought as forms of labour.

This paper analyses discourses of authenticity in the websites and Furry Girl, two production companies from the field of genderqueer porn, which incorporate sexual and feminist politics in some way. The first component of my argument is that, in ‘real body discourses, this kind of porn production appears un-mediated. The mediation aspects of digital culture are in this process occluded. Secondly, I suggest that through this emphasis on queer visibility and authenticity, sexuality is constructed both as a disciplinary site and a site for value extraction. In particular, as ‘real’ bodies in these cases translate into diverse, inclusive and multiple, they create new needs and desires for politically sensitive lesbian consumers in neoliberal societies.

UPDATE: My article entitled ‘Remediating queer politics in online porn: Brand(ed) new sexualities and real bodies’, will be published in the special issue ‘Revolting Bodies: Desiring Lesbians’, in the Journal of Lesbian Studies (Forthcoming).

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Paper in Revolting Bodies, Politics & Genders- 18th Annual Lesbian Lives Conference

I’m doing a paper entitled ‘You Can Do More, You Can Actually Change the Productivity’: Affective Labour in Queer/ Feminist Porn Cultures, on Friday 11 February, at 4.45-6.15PM  in the panel ‘Performing an Erotic Room G4′ at the Revolting: Bodies, Politics & Genders, 18th Annual Lesbian Lives Conference Brighton 11-12 February 2011


‘You can do more, you can actually change the productivity’: Affective labour in queer/ feminist porn cultures.

This paper examines emerging digital visual cultures which generate and distribute queer/ feminist pornographic material. Using examples from FTM, gender-queer and online feminist pornography, it illustrates how the re-organisation of capitalist modes of production has moved to the site of intimacy. At the same time, the circulation of content and the quest for pleasure can be thought as a form of entitlement and belonging.

The analysis uses the framework of affective labour in order to understand what is being capitalised in queer/ feminist porn cultures, and to speculate their political potential. In particular, it focuses on discourses of ‘real bodies’, processes of self-surveillance and the production of commodifiable bodies and connections. The paper argues that, far from being liberatory spaces or gift economies, visual cultures of queer/ feminist porn are part of new digital economies which generate corporate profit from desire, sociability and life itself.

Keywords: affective labour, digital cultures, postporn, queer/ feminism

The 2011 Lesbian Lives Conference will be hosted by the University of Brighton LGBT and Queer Life Research Hub, in conjunction with the Women’s Studies Centre, University College Dublin.

UPDATE: My article entitled ‘Remediating queer politics in online porn: Brand(ed) new sexualities and real bodies’, will be published in the special issue ‘Revolting Bodies: Desiring Lesbians’, in the Journal of Lesbian Studies (Forthcoming).

lesbian erotic and pornographic art

Some research notes – short list of artists who have shaped this field.

New age UK feminist painter Monica Sjoo deals with birth, goddesses and the cosmic.

‘It is as if she is reintroducing us to our lost passions. Passions about the earth, about nature, about true worship, about our own strength and power in the face of the mystery that we, as humans and women, inhabit’ (Alice Walker 2003, Introduction to Online Exhibition: ‘Through Space and Time The Ancient Sisterhoods Spoke To Me’).

The first lesbian photographs to link lesbian to sexual liberation, by American Tee Corinne, (with cornerstone book ‘Yantras of Womanlove’, 1982, which uses negative printing and solarization) who was an activist, writer, educator and artist.  I find her life and work fascinating – she started in 1969, while a postgraduate and married to a man-

‘She experimented with sexual imagery in her own art, beginning with photographs of heterosexual couples kissing and moving on to drawings of her own genitals, a subject for which she could find no other models’. (Bibliographical note in Guide to the Tee A. Corinne Papers 1966-2003 at the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives)

She did art again after a pause of around 5 years and after coming out, using exclusively sexually explicit material. She is responsible for the ‘Cunt Coloring Book’ (1975), which is still published and was intended to be used as an educational aid for kids (renamed ‘Labiaflowers’ for a short while). International reach came with photographic work published in the lesbian journal Sinister Wisdom in 1977 and, as a writer, with erotic stories collection Dreams of the Woman Who Loved Sex, in 1987 and winning the Lambda Literary Award in 1990 as editor of the erotic anthology, Intricate Passions.

In 1998 ‘…the Traditional Values Coalition circulated a package of what they consider “pornography” to members of the U.S. Senate. They gathered the material, including The Cunt Coloring Book and the book Nothing But the Girl — which features Corinne’s photographs — from The Gay and Lesbian Center of the San Francisco Public Library. It was a further effort to discredit the ambassadorial nomination of James Hormel, for whom the center is named’. (Queer arts 1998)

Sex-radical dykes and S/M – Quim & On Our Backs

Jill Posener’s Untitled (1988), Katie Niles’  Untitled (1978), Jacqui Duckworth, Laurence Jangy-Paget, and Mumtaz Karimjee.

‘Photographer Della Grace, for example, conscious of the exploitation of women in heterosexual pornography, has explored different ways of confronting this problem in her work. One exhibition of her staged sex photographs featured audio tapes of the models talking about their feelings during the shoot, and she went on to photograph herself in explicit sexual scenarios, shutter-release bulb visibly in shot’ (source

Catherine Opie’s Being and Having (1991)-‘lesbians wearing false moustaches and beards, plays aggressively with stereotypes of masculinity and femininity as they relate to sexuality. Giard’s Particular Voices project, a compendium of portraits of writers, helped to commemorate 20th‐century gay and lesbian culture, an important concern considering the devastation caused by AIDS and the critical neglect of much gay and lesbian literary production’ (source:

Morgan Gwenwald’s butch-femme photography (US).

Kiss & Tell Collective – Susan Stewart, Persimmon Blackbridge, and Lizard Jones – challenging censorship (Canada).

Some Biblio

Boffin, T., and Fraser, J., Stolen Glances: Lesbians Take Photographs (1991).
Bright, S., and Posener, J., Nothing But the Girl: The Blatant Lesbian Image (1996).

Corinne, Tee A. The Sex Lives of Daffodils: Growing Up as an Artist Who Also Writes. Wolf Creek, OR : Pearlchild, c1997

Ellenzweig, A., The Homoerotic Photograph (1992).
Hammond, H., Lesbian Art in America: A Contemporary History (2000).

gay and lesbian photography – On our Backs, Yantras of Womanlove, The Perfect Moment, Being and Having, Particular Voices ( accessed 10 January)

glbtq – an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer culture,  Erotic and Pornographic Art: Lesbian, Tamsin Wilton (accessed 10 january 2010)

Queer “Obscurely Famous,” an interview with Tee Corinne. September 1998 (Accessed 10 January 2010). Online at http://www.queer

Sherman, Phillip and Samuel Bernstein, eds. Uncommon Heroes. Fletcher Press, c1994
Waugh, T., Hard to Imagine (1996).

It is as if she is reintroducing us to our lost passions. Passions about the earth, about nature, about true worship, about our own strength and power in the face of the mystery that we, as humans and women, inhabit.