Source: Hamilton Press print edition
24 February 2010
OUR own bodies, where we live and how we live can all influence our sexuality.
Two Waikato University geographers have written a book called Space, Place and Sex that examines the role of place in shaping sexual identity.
Associate Professor Lynda Johnston and Professor Robyn Longhurst were commissioned to write the book by American publisher Rowman and Littlefield.
"They initially asked us to write about lesbians and place, " says Ms Johnston, "but we argued the case for a much broader investigation and have been able to include a lot of New Zealand stories throughout the book's nine chapters."
Among the New Zealand stories are Mystery Creek Fieldays' Bachelor of the Year, the Middlemarch singles' ball, Air New Zealand's Pink Flight to Sydney Mardi Gras, asexual Gerald off Shortland Street, and Georgina Beyer. There are many international examples too.
"We wanted to write a book that was well researched and rigorous, but was also accessible to a broader market, " says Ms Longhurst. "We started small - with the body as a place - it's a site of pleasure and pain, and it's public and private. Then we moved to sexuality in the home and community, considered the differences found in rural and urban environments, and studied aspects of ethnicity, culture and country."
Ms Johnston says sexuality is often studied from psychological and political perspectives but it's only recently the influence of geography has become a popular area for study. "Where we are and the places we have an emotional attachment to clearly impact the way we experience our sexual lives."
The pair has also looked at cyber- sex and online dating, mail-order brides, the history of the church in relation to weddings and sex, romance and beaches. They say they wrote the book to unravel some of the diversity and complexity that surrounds and inhabits the embodied experiences of sex and sexuality.
The cover of Space, Place and Sex features Hamilton's Riff Raff statue.
"Riff Raff is an interesting marker, a monument that depicts sex and place, " says Ms Longhurst. "It epitomises many of the elements discussed in the book and, standing in downtown Hamilton, it upsets the idea that city statues have to be heteronormative or commemorative or celebrate conservative family values."
Space, Place and Sex took the authors three years to write and is on sale through Amazon.