The following event is taking place at Queen’s University Belfast on Monday 1st September 2014 at 4pm. The venue is QUB School of Law, 27 University Square, Room 27.101. All welcome.
No (Commercial) Sex Please, They’re Suburbanites: Regulating the (Sub)Urban Sexscape
Dr Paul Maginn
University of Western Australia
Transactional forms of sex (sex work/prostitution and stripping/lap-dancing) and commercial sex venues such as sex shops, adult theatres, strip clubs, BDSM dungeons, and brothels tend to be associated with the ‘inner-city’; what Parksian human ecologists referred to as the ‘zone of transition’. In many respects, this marginalized space was indeed the ‘natural area’ for commercial sex to take place as it was arguably the only space such activities could take root in the emerging modern metropolis. Relatedly, the zone of transition and commercial sex venues and spaces were generally located adjacent to male dominated spaces–the CBD and industrial areas—thereby offering a ready supply of customers and clients. This geography was no accident. History shows that efforts to regulate the ‘sex industry’ range from spatial containment to prohibition and eradication. In short, political and bureaucratic regulators have sought to prevent commercialized forms of sex invading the suburbs and subsequently contaminating suburbanites. A major reason for this is that the suburbs hold a special place in the heteronormative hearts and minds of politicians and bureaucrats. Suburbia has been framed not only in political but also popular cultural discourses as a heterosexual space, a space of domesticity and monogamy and a safe haven for women and children.
This presentation traces the broad historical, sociological, geographical and regulatory contours surrounding the ‘sex industry’ in western liberal democracies by drawing on examples in my forthcoming co-edited book, (Sub)Urban Sexscapes: Geographies and Regulation of the Sex Industry. It is contended that contemporary efforts to eradicate sex work/prostitution by ending demand and over-regulating other forms of commercial sex (e.g. pornography, lap-dancing) are misplaced and doomed to fail in their primary objectives. Policymakers can achieve greater regulatory success if they adopt a pragmatic approach and base their decisions on evidence as opposed to moral panics and involvement of the sex industry in decision-making processes.
(Upcoming book, (Sub)Urban Sexscapes, Geographies and Regulation of the Sex Industry.)