Conference Agenda

RN23_05b: Media representations and online sexual subjectivities
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Liliia Pankratova, Saint Petersburg State University
Location: BS.3.25
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road


Dating and Rating on Grindr: Trade and Exchange Practices in a Virtual Sexual Market

Robert T. Cserni

SUNY at Stony Brook, United States of America

The general theoretical issue of this paper centers on how technologically-mediated processes of globalization of gay culture influence the (re)constructions of sexualities and sexual identities of men who have sex with men (MSM)/gay men as well as the nature of their interpersonal interactions. More specifically, I argue that location-based mobile dating apps such as Grindr are a sexual market, in which users can be considered self-objectified sexual commodities. Thus, I am interested in exploring the characteristics of actors (users) in this sexual market. In addition, I am interested in examining which characteristics and in what way they are associated with actors’ perceived sexual capital. In order to do so, I used data from a sample of Grindr profiles in Vienna, Austria. The data were collected during four time points – weekday afternoons, weekday evenings, weekend afternoons and weekend evenings. All the information users provided in their profiles was coded. Special attention was given to the way the users described themselves and what they were looking for. Furthermore, in order to gain a more holistic understanding of the interactions in this sexual market I also conducted 20 interviews with MSM/gay men in Vienna. I believe this study will contribute to and complement existing literature on technology, sexualities, and, in particular, literature on sexual capital.

Cybjectivities: The Experimentation, Formation, and Regulation of Online Subjectivies in India LGBTQI+ Cyberspaces

Zoey Njaia Martin-Lockhart

University of Illinois at Chicago, United States of America

lgbtqi+ social media spaces can be peculiar zones of self-exploration and cross-fertilization. Cyberspace can forever conceal, question, and transform the “actual” histories and subjectivities of participants. This paper examines how the structures and cultures of Indian lgbtqi+ social media groups and platforms governs the formation of, possibilities for, and mobilities of online (lgbtqi+) subjectivities and communities entangled in the online-physical-world kaleidoscope. Focusing on urban lgbtqia+ communities and social media spaces in India, this paper draws on research conducted from 2014-2015 and continued since via online engagement.

Class, language, and location inevitably impact encounters online, but gender-swapped profiles, (cyber)sexual experimentation, and other forms of self-modification and exploration demonstrate subject position gymnastics disallowed by physical-world restraints. Simultaneously, subjecthoods and presentations available on lgbtqi+ social media platforms are constrained: from moderated secret Facebook groups to the dating/hookup apps Planet Romeo and Grinder, where bodies are presented, parsed, and—inevitably—ranked by height, muscularity, race, and penis length, and where a delimited number of (western-tinged) gender and sexuality labels are available.

This paper explores online forms of control, limitations, and governmentality that shape subjectivities: applications’ interface structures; the appointment of moderators to monitor Facebook groups (and their subsequent behavior); and social hierarchies determining desirability of bodies and identities on- and off-line. In Indian lgbtqi+ cyberspaces, how do online customs and the norms and ethics of physical-world community cultures mutually shape each other? How similar are the phobias and hierarchies that circulate in online and physical-world communities? Where do they diverge, why, and what are the consequences for lgbtqi+ subjectivities?

It’s Not About the Sex, Stupid: The Importance of Sexuality in Polyamorous Relationships by Self-perception and Media Representation.

Stefan F. Ossmann

University of Vienna, Austria

Polyamory - consensual relationship(s) between more than two people based on emotional love and sexual action - has become an uprising topic within the last 20 years. Yet we still know little, and what we empirically-based understand is mainly based on American data. Financed by the Austrian Science Funds FWF, the project “Polyamory in media, social and identity perspective” explored two aspects that have been falling short in academic discussion so far: The media representation of polyamory, and the German speaking area as source of empiric investigation.

368 newspaper and magazine articles published in Austria, Germany and Switzerland over one decade (2007-2017) have been examined by a qualitative content analysis; furthermore 33 narrative biographical interviews of individuals from 14 polycules based in/around Vienna have been conducted.

The presentation in Manchester aims at two specific aspects of the findings: The intimate love (and life) history, and the importance of sexuality in consensual non-monogamous relationships. Following questions (by media portrayal held against self-perception) shall be answered:

# What happened in one’s sexual history to dismiss monogamy?

# Which value has sexuality in a concept furthermore rooted in consent, comperson, and love?

# Can implications be drawn on the impact of media on the societal discourse on polyamory?

# Are there implications on how wider society will understand sexuality in the future?

Embedded in the Social Sciences theory of Framing, the findings will not only indicate how media influence public opinion in a seemingly new topic, but furthermore compare those with experiences from within the polyamorous community.

Shamed Citizens: Lived Experiences of Mongolian Queers in Media

Otgonbaatar Tsedendemberel

Corvinus University, Hungary

Discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) is pervasive in Mongolian legal, institutional, as well as cultural and social environments. The Being LGBTI in Asia Report states that discrimination in the workplace was identified as one of the most serious and frequent human rights violations. Other areas are education, health, family affairs and media. This also explain why public opinions and attitudes lead to widespread discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) Mongolians, evidenced by ongoing hate remarks, ridicule and shaming on traditional and social media, and on the streets. Drawing on Glenn’s “rhetoric silence” (2004) and Gould’s affect and “ambivalence about self and society” (2010), I would argue that the state, media, and public shaming and silencing of the queers through dominant discourses regard them invisible and reveal their subordination at a cognitive level, but domination, marginalizaton and mis-/non-recognition could be experienced at the affective level through intensive roles of shame. Only by confronting and embracing shame honestly, not avoiding it, queer community can liberate themselves and claim their agency for and within self and society. Foucault’s discourse analysis will be used to investigate and explore media representation and portrayal on how shame plays roles in affecting the queer community by analyzing traditional and social media coverage related to SOGIESC issues. This method will include reviewing major newspapers, news articles, online and offline posts, comments, and other expressions made by the general public in the past 10 years or so.