“Sexy Feminisms”

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Atlantis 31.2 – “Sexy Feminisms? Trans-Formations in Feminist Sexuality
Studies After QueerTheory.” Guest edited by Susanne Luhmann and Rachel Warburton
*order your copy at www.msvu.ca/atlantis

From the issue website:

This issue poses Sexy Feminisms as a question so as to query where feminist theorizations of sexuality are today and where they are heading…If these opposing poles of pleasure versus danger marked the 1980s sexuality debates within feminist circles, in the 1990s a debate surfaced between feminist and the then just emerging new fields of lesbian/gay and queer studies. These latter fields and their theories owe in their emergence much to earlier feminist discourses of sexuality. Yet they often fail to acknowledge this intellectual and political heritage and, at times, position themselves squarely against feminism and women’s studies…

In the Canadian context, the relationship between feminist and queer theory, between lesbian/gay and women’s studies was worked out perhaps less in stormy public debates than in institutional formation processes and scholarly affiliations. The early 1990s saw the birth of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Studies Association, which, at the time, involved among its founders many with roots within women’s and feminist studies. As the organization grew over the past decade, the potential tension or split between women’s and lesbian/gay studies was bridged often, perhaps in a very Canadian fashion, by cooperation rather than open competition. Presenters and organizers frequently initiated joint and co-sponsored events between CLGSA and CWSA/ACEF…Institutionally we see today a whole series of different patterns of program formation. LGBTIQ Studies and sexuality studies in the Canadian academy are emerging variously as distinct and separate degree granting programs under various names: Sexual diversity studies being one example, critical sexuality studies another. Some universities offer minors or concentrations in sexuality studies within existing women’s studies programs. In other places, what used to be called women’s studies programs have undergone a renaming process and are now called, for example, Women, Gender and Sexuality studies. Curriculum transformation processes also made sexuality studies a central subfield within the continuously evolving (inter)discipline…

Feminist sexuality studies has faced new challenges in the forms of queer theory, transgender, and transnational scholarship, as well as critical race, whiteness, and disability studies. Given these transformations, the goal of this special issue of Atlantis is to offer a glimpse into the current states of feminist sexuality studies in the wake of various theoretical and political influences…

As with previous feminist sexuality studies, the contributors to this volume highlight the revolutionary potential of sexual pleasure. Those pleasures continue to be found in places that defy a narrative of feminine sexual subordination, and unsurprisingly, several pieces espouse a manifestory tone. Kathryn Payne, Loree Erickson, and Chanelle Gallant revel in the emancipatory power of sexual pleasure, while Nina Martin is more sceptical about the liberatory potential of the pornification of culture… Krista Scott-Dixon’s article, which opens the issue, draws upon the work of feminist science scholars to argue for what she calls a “critical science of sex, gender, and sexuality.”…Representations of bodies, and particularly bodies that defy the compulsory coherence of sex, gender, and sexuality, in two recent documentaries on gendered sex play for ftm trans men, are the object of Bobby Noble’s article…The first of two creative contributions, Trish Salah’s meditation on the dubious welcome offered to trans patrons of the first women’s bathhouse powerfully conveys the sense of frustration involved in making feminist spaces trans positive…By way of an interview, Chanelle Gallant addresses the political dimensions of female sexual pleasure, the whore stigma, colonization of the female body, and feminist workshop pedagogy… Jenny Higgins reflects her own research and her desire to infuse a project on contraceptive use with feminist theorizations of sexual agency and pleasure; something she found missing from public health research. In the process of conducting her research, she finds both her work in public health and the feminist theorizing of sexual agency challenged. The volume concludes with three pieces focussing on feminist cultural production. Tal Dekel engages the ways women of color in the visual arts, especially American artist Kara Walker, rewrite the sexualized racial vocabularies of art history. Rebecca Hardie examines Karen Finley’ s performance art with a view to the ways in which Finley uses her body to reconfigure both performance conventions and sexual taboos. An interview with Toronto-based artist Allyson Mitchell, a photo of whose work graces the cover of this issue, concludes this special issue…Rounding out this intriguing collection, we include a poem by Gwen Bartleman describing her encounter with the statue of the Famous Five, and reviews of books from different perspectives in the “longstanding conversation” around feminism and sexuality.


Susanne Luhmann and Rachel Warburton – Introduction to “Sexy Feminisms? Trans-Formations in Feminist Sexuality Studies After Queer Theory”

Krista Scott-Dixon – Towards an “Invested Empirical Method”: Reclaiming Feminist Science Studies

Bobby Noble – The “P” Word: Trans Men, Stone Butches and the Politics of Penetration

Trish Salah – Transfixed in Lesbian Paradise

Gwen Bartleman Les Femmes

Nina K. Martin Porn Empowerment: Negotiating Sex Work and Third Wave Feminism

Loree Erickson – Revealing Femmegimp: A Sex-positive Reflection on Sites of Shame as Sites of Resistance for People with Disabilities

Kathryn Payne – From Abject to Subject: Some Thoughts on Sex Work as a Missing Link in Feminist Understandings of Sexuality

INTERVIEW – Rachel Warburton talks with Chanelle Gallant

Jenny Higgins – Sexy Feminisms & Sexual Health: Theorizing Heterosex, Pleasure, and Constraint in Public Health Research

Tal Dekel Sex, Race and Gender: Contemporary Women Artists of Color, the Case of Kara Walker

Rebecca Hardie – Karen Finley’s Performance and Judith Butler’s Performative: Subverting the Binary Logic of Theatrical Functions

INTERVIEW – Susanne Luhmann talks with Allyson Mitchell


Sons of the Movement: FTMs Risking Incoherence on a Post-Queer Cultural Landscape – Reviewed by Natasha Hurley

Sex Change, Social Change: Reflections on Identity, Institutions, and Imperialism – Reviewed by Rachel Hurst

Made in India: Decolonizations, Queer Sexualities, Trans/national Projects – Reviewed by Priya Jha

Sexing the Church: Gender, Power, and Ethics in Contemporary Catholicism – Reviewed by Chris Klassen

Big Sister: How Extreme Feminism has Betrayed the Fight for Sexual Equality. – Reviewed by Elizabeth Majic

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. – Reviewed by Sarah Neville

Breaking the Bowls: Degendering and Feminist Change – Reviewed by Linda Wayne

Undoing Gender – Reviewed by Melissa Autumn White

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