Sexuality and Agency An Inclusive Interdisciplinary Conference
From government incentives for women to have more children and the ‘slut-shaming’ phenomenon, to the erasure of rights and legal recognition of LGBTIQ++ people, and beyond, we live in a time where political and social forces play a powerful role in regulating our sexuality and sexual behaviour. It is therefore necessary and timely to consider how sexuality is related to our agency as human beings, particularly in terms of how autonomy and self-determination shape and are shaped by sex and sexuality.
The concept of sexual agency is fraught with complication, both in terms of how it is understood and expressed. On one hand, sexual agency can be constructed in ways that enforce systemic inequities and violence against those whose sexual agency defies narrow cultural norms. On the other hand, sexual agency can be constructed in ways that result in progressive change to institutions, laws and social mores. Understanding the complexities of sexual agency requires further examination of how it is conceptualised and manifested within and across various communities, cultures, and contexts. Exploring sexual agency raises a host of questions, including how it is related to the concept of sexual autonomy, what it means to have, obtain, be denied, or lose sexual agency; how sexual agency is contextual; whose sexual agency is respected; and how queer, trans, and those with other marginalised sexual or gender identities navigate sexual agency.
These issues will be the focus of the Sexuality and Agency conference. This inclusive interdisciplinary event provides a space for participants from all relevant disciplines, professions and practices to share their work and learn from the perspectives being shared. The conference aims to build connections across professions and communities to discuss and explore research and activity relating to the relationship between sexuality and agency; to identify areas to be subsequently explored in further depth; and to generate collaborative action that will lead to change in the inequitable ways that sexual agency is constructed, enforced, and maintained.
Embracing the ethos “nothing about us without us,” this conference seeks to explore the relationship between sexuality and agency by promoting community organising, collaborative research, and innovative practices in NGOs and/or voluntary sector work. Too often scholarship within the fields of sexuality and gender studies remains seated in the academy and is inaccessible to the very populations whose lives are at the heart of that research. In contrast, this conference seeks to bring together community organisers and scholars in meaningful collaborations that are centered on restorative justice within marginalised sexuality and gender communities, with a view to forming a selective publication to engender further collaboration, research and discussion.
We believe that through collaboration we can innovate and improve our research and practices to better serve our organisations, institutions, and/or the communities with which we work. Accordingly, the Sexuality and Agency conference is intended to be highly interactive, with participants encouraged to share and interact in a spirit of mutual respect, courtesy and collegiality. In recognition that different disciplines express themselves in different mediums and that different cultures have different ways of knowing, we will consider traditional research and paper proposals, and we strongly encourage submissions relating to:
- workshops on do-it-yourself activism, forming activist collectives, and case studies of successful and unsuccessful activist endeavours;
- proposals from professionals that focus on workshopping or soliciting feedback on improving practices, training, or policies related to sexuality and agency in your fields. Presentations in this category must be understandable by a non-specialised or lay audience. We are especially interested in submissions from fields such as:
- medicine and healthcare, mental healthcare, education, business and finance, law, immigration and detention, research, social services, sex work, activism, trades, hospitality and tourism, science, etc.
- projects that explore sexuality and sexual agency through art, artistic creation, and narratives. Potential mediums include:
- narrative and/or oral history workshops focused on sexual storytelling; theatrical or performative depictions of sexuality; narrative or poetry readings or performances; visual and aesthetic art; workshops on creating, or presentation of existing, zines, chapbooks or broadsides
While the organisers will consider submissions on any aspect of the relationship between sexuality and agency, the following topics are of particular interest:
Identity and Sexual Agency
Who is afforded sexual agency? Whose sexual agency is recognised and valued? This project seeks to understand the relationship between sexuality and agency through exploring topics such as:
sexual embodiment and intersex or trans identity; dislocated, houseless, disassociated, uprooted sex and desire; disability and/or crip sexualities; sexual identity versus sexual expression; race, ethnicity, and sexuality; fat identities and sexual embodiment; asexual affectionality and romanticism; public sex and the politics of public versus private sexuality; sex games and sexual play that make people uncomfortable; situational sexuality; polyamory; sexual agency and specific sex acts; unnamed/unlabellable sexualities and relationships; marriage and the sexual politics of assimilation/accommodation; sexual agency in queer time and space; the politics of pride and queer visibility, particularly as a Western strategy of visibility and belonging, and the rejection or critique of coming out; altering sexual expression in different cultural contexts; sexual script theory; ageism and sexual agency
Sexual Agency and Sex Work
We are particularly interested in hearing from sex workers and the volunteer sector or NGO workers who support the agency of sex workers. Topics may include:
- sex workers’ rights, autonomy, and lived experiences; sex work and safety; sex as economic, social, and symbolic capital; bodily autonomy and sexual agency; sex work and the barter economy; trading sex and engaging in sex work; sex tourism; sexual consumption and consumerism; purchasing sex, sex toys, and sexual images; commoditization of sexuality; sex as currency; sex as labour; queer and trans sex workers
Sexual Health and Agency
In order to further the work of health care providers, community leaders, educators, and organisations supporting sexual health, we seek submissions on topics such as:
political and cultural aspects of female genital cutting; political and cultural aspects of male circumcision; intersex bodily autonomy; access to contraceptives and safer-sex education; availability of internal/external condoms; supporting sex workers’ agency and health; access to competent, culturally responsive health care/providers; destigmatising HIV/AIDS; access to HIV/AIDS treatments and pre-exposure prophylactics; age of consent laws; virginity and cultural understandings and myths about virginity; intimate partner violence and support services, particularly for historically underserved populations; informed consent for medical treatment; abortion access
Systemic Violence and Sexual Agency
Exploring the relationships between state-sanctioned or systemic violence and sexual agency, we seek submissions on topics such as:
rape and sexual violence prevention in prison and detention facilities, as well as prison abolition efforts; sexual misconduct in militaries, on or around military bases, in war zones and other occupied or militarised zones; national or federal laws prohibiting or criminalising sodomy or homosexuality; gay and trans panic murder defenses; global murders of trans people; sexual violence in asylum, immigration, or migration centers or facilities; procedures and policies for sexual minority refugees/asylees; sexual abuse and misconduct by religious leaders; cultural norms and expectations of sex and sexuality; destigmatising promiscuity/slut-shaming narratives; et cetera