Gender and Cultural Studies seminar series 18 October
(Counter)Public Chemsex Imaginaries on a Porn Platform and a Video Conferencing Service
Chemsex as a practice mobilises intense affect. In the media, it typically operates as an ‘unhappy object’ (Ahmed, 2009) to which fear of death, biomedical anxiety of pureness, and narratives of trauma sticks. Conversely, engaging in the disinhibition that chemsex promises constitutes a counterpublic (Warner, 2002) that works to defy the recurring problematization of chemically enhanced erotic encounters (Macfarlane, 2016).
This paper approaches the ways chemsex is practiced with digital media, and how the digital porn and communication platforms for circulating representations affect the formation of an erotic chemsex imaginary. It is shown that media play a big part in chemsex’ social life, and thus the paper asks how digital infrastructures provide the means for chemically enhanced sexual practice to become visible and consumed, while also activating the semantic and distributive capacities of those infrastructures to allow for disinhibited pleasures to emerge in the first place. Concretely, two chemsex media sites are compared: the sometimes Do-It-Yourself (DIY) porn platform Pornhub, and a conference call service.
By focusing on mediated chemsex the paper seeks to disturb the containment of it as a social phenomenon that only works on certain queer bodies made vulnerable due to some presumed trauma or moral weakness. Instead the paper reveals the erotic imaginary of chemsex and what it makes digitally available for playful consumption to a range of people and publics wider than that suggested by the ongoing medical, digital, and sexual panic focusing on “problematic” use (Platteau et al., 2019).
Kristian Møller is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the IT University of Copenhagen in Denmark. His current research focuses on “Intimate media, medicalized sex – using HIV preventing medicine and recreational drugs,” and is funded by the AIDS Foundation of Denmark, the Independent Research Fund of Denmark, and The IT University.
The Department of Gender and Cultural Studies hosts a lively departmental research seminar series. Participants include staff, associates and postgraduate students from the department, as well as presenters from other University of Sydney departments and from outside, both nationally and internationally.
Please join us after the seminar for drinks at the Holme Courtyard Bar
Everyone is welcome to attend.
2019 Seminar Series convenors:
Thom van Dooren and Shawna Tang
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