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Geography of Sexuality Essay

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Updated: Dec 15th, 2019


Geography of sexuality is a very interesting topic yet it only has very little significance. The topic is particularly of great interest to the sexual geographers who try to understand several issues concerning human sexuality, like the sexual desires, relations, sexual institutions as well as the differences.

Sexual geographers work under various terrains for instance, the theoretical as well as political terrains with various queer theory aspects. Their insights are generally materialistic and spiritualized (Adler 1992, p. 88).

Different writers have different views and opinions about the issues of sexuality of differences, and this has generated major debates within the discipline. The field looks into the history of prostitution, the emergence of gay ghettos and the issues of lesbianism within the urban setting. It also looks into major aspects of the queer theory and heterosexual geographies.

Sexuality and Space

The issue of Geography of sexuality is not very significant given that spaces have usually been sexualized through the formation of norms that regulate what can be termed as appropriate sexual behavior in the spaces that are usually shared. The regulations governing the same might be unspoken enforced by the authority or people’s expectations like stares.

A person may for instance, be allowed to kiss on the street although rolling on the ground or flow for those in love might not be perceived as appropriate. These regulations might however differ depending on the settings. There are some practices that might not be allowed on a busy street yet it might be acceptable in a sex party. Such places give provision for more explicit sexual behavior.

Another reason for the insignificance of the geography of sexuality is due to the fact that the current society seems to be mainly structured by sexuality. Homes have usually been perceived as places of comfort where one retreats from the world struggles and tussles and finds relaxation and love.

These same places however usually turn out to be places of distress particularly to those who do not conform to the heterosexual perceptions like gays and lesbians. People tend to discriminate against those who do not conform to the ideas of heterosexuality. At times, even the policies that are passed do not put these minority groups into consideration.

National and international policies tend to discriminate against these minority groups. Taking the immigration laws for instance, there is the exclusion of queer immigrants, some of whom tend to resort to heterosexual relationships so as to benefit (Agarwal 1933:140). Society seems to be already decided on matters of sexuality and its judgments about the matters of sexuality; there are those sexual practices that are perceived as right and others wrong.

There seems to be no ground for accommodation of other sexual practices. The efforts of sexuality geographers might therefore be rendered insignificant as they are unlikely to change people’s perceptions about s matters of sexuality hence rendering the whole issue of geography of sexuality insignificant.

Sexuality geographers often look at the set norms and standards about what constitutes an acceptable sexual practice. These standards are usually set after an understanding or agreement of what can be deemed as appropriate or inappropriate. They can however be challenged. People’s actions and perceptions about sexuality are often shaped by different factors.

Each space, be it the workplace, home or the nation at large is often certain gendered or sexualized perceptions that have either been shaped by these factors. This often influences people’s actions, as they have perceptions of what is known to be common sense in those places. All these factors are not necessarily depended on people’s geographical locations as perceived by the sexuality geographers hence rendering the whole issue of the geography of sexuality insignificant.

Geography of sexuality bases its arguments on gender and sexuality all of which are human creations. Many scholars argue that the issue of gender and sexuality are just human creations, perceptions that are formed for social convenience. They are in the event normalized so that diversion from them is perceived is abnormal.

Spaces have therefore tended to be hierarchically sexualized. Due to the gendering of society, it has often been challenging to categorize the bisexuals within such a gendered society. There inclusion within a geographic space has often been partial. Some sexual geographers have therefore suggested that the human desires be included in the categorization.

This is due to the fact that people’s desires are often enacted through their bodies and this is usually specific to a certain site (Bell 1995, p. 55). This implies that geography of sexuality is insufficient in explaining the issues of sexuality and rendering it irrelevant.


While attempting to write about queer geography, most sexuality geographers tend to draw their ideas from the queer and social theories. They therefore tend to produce the queer interpretation, different from other disciplines. They are mainly concerned with daily social relations, space production, as well as the materiality of the queer performances. This body mainly concentrates on the identities of the bisexual, lesbian as well as the gay people.

This rarely follows the logical concern of site-specific embodiment of people’s desires. This hinders a thorough queer critiquing of the sexualities production and performance hence proving geography of sexuality irrelevant. According to the feminist geographer’s examination, patriarchal social relationships are usually reinforced by the relations of heterosexists at home or even at the workplace and other places (Bell-Scott 1993, p. 33).

Geographers of sexuality have for long been reluctant to examine the spatial aspects of heterosexuality as well as their identities and desires. The examination of heterogeneity has shown that it is usually specific to given contexts. The heterosexual space is differently sexualized or even desexualized by different people and for different people at a certain time. Heterosexuals therefore usually involve themselves in different ways of self-production and surveillance.

It has been found out that various aspects of heterosexuality are either more dissident or queerer than others. This has hence posed a challenge to the existing heteronormative power relations. Deconstruction of normative heterosexuality has therefore proved difficult while using the queer theory. Geography of sexuality is therefore ineffective in addressing matters of sexuality.

There are some regions where prostitution and commercial sex work has been legalized hence complicating the issue of Geography of sexuality even more. Diversity seems to be prevalent in the heterosexualised spaces. This makes the whole aspect of morality to be questionable. Sex tourism and other forms of commercial sex work have been given space across several nations.

This proves that geographic complexity in the matters of sex trade. There has however been some form of coercion and regulation of sex trade due to some perceptions of morality and immorality in the heterosexual geographies. Geography of sexuality has not been able to explain the complexity of all these matters to the fullest hence proving itself insignificant.

Issues of sex tourism, commercial sex work among others need therefore to be studied closely while trying to understand the aspects of Geography of sexuality. This proves the complexity heterosexuality in social space. Construction of heterosexuality is vital in the construction of different forms of alteration or difference.

There is an argument put forth that straight geographies are queer as well. While studying heterosexuality, focus is mainly put on the urban centers while leaving out rural areas that might have relevant statistics vital for the study. The outcome tends to be biased on such grounds (Cockburn 1983, p. 289-295).

This means that the outcome of geography of sexuality findings are usually biased and limited given that the focus is on a few regions for instance the urban centers hence living out the others areas like the rural population. The implication therefore is that geography of sexuality does not fully represent the sexuality of a whole population.

Taking Queer further

Geographical critiquing of sexuality is also challenged due to the fact that the social and political ground on which such critiquing is done keeps changing with time hence making the issue of sexuality geography outdated and irrelevant in most of the cases.

There has for instance been gay and lesbian activism in most western countries in the recent past as compared to some long time in the past. Some media houses have adopted the trend and they tend to focus positively on these minority groups.

In some countries and institutions, the appropriate changes have been made in their laws so as to accommodate these groups. This is however not uniform across the globe. Some societies, institutions or even countries still consider gay and lesbian lifestyles as abominable and hence abhor them.

The geography of sexuality of the past years is very different from that of today. There is therefore no uniformity in the whole aspect of geography of sexuality hence rendering it insignificant (Cockburn 1983, p. 488).

There seems to be no uniformity in the matter of people adopting the gay or lesbian lifestyles. There seems to be a very significant difference between the gay communities of countries in the Far East and those in the western democracies. Most of the men ascribing to the gay lifestyle in a country like Indonesia for instance still had the aspiration of marrying some day.

The case is different in most of the western countries as some of them for instance have even legalized a marriage institution for the gay or lesbian couples. This makes it difficult to have a clear definition of queer identity. With time the whole concept of queer: lesbian/gay may have to be redefined. There seems to be incompleteness in their identity.

This has proved to be a challenge to the Geographers of sexuality as they may not be in a position to clearly define what constitutes a queer lifestyle, and whether it is depended on spatial aspects. The final implication therefore being that the geography of sexuality is irrelevant as it is not uniform across all the regions.

People have tendered to define sexuality and gender with clear lines of distinction and it is believed that ones gender or sexuality must be coincide with his/her biological sex. One can therefore only be defined as male or female. This is problematic as it does not put any intermediate levels of classification. Gays, lesbians and bisexuals are therefore left out.

Any deviation from these perceptions of gender or sexuality tends to perceived as being abnormality or deviance. Queer understanding of sex and gender has been made complex and there seems to be no homogeneity in the whole issues of gender or sex definitions. Transsexual activists have been pressing for their recognition as a different sex from that of male or female. This pose a challenge to the perception that one’s sex must either be male or female (Edelman1993, p. 565).

Sexuality geography has not been able to address the problem as well as it has gone by the clear cut definition of gender and sexes being just two hence failing to fully address the recognition of transsexuals and queerness. This therefore implies that it is ineffective in addressing matters of sexuality to the fullest hence being irrelevant.

There seems to be differences in the Geographers of sexualities concerning issues of sexuality and gender. Contrary to the perception that all sexuality Geographers ascribe to queer definitions of sexes, some geographers in the real sense do not ascribe to the queer theory. The queer theory emerged from humanities.

Its adoption within a geographical arena that is mostly social science oriented has had its own challenges coupled with problems as well as interesting points. The social sciences have been concerned with how social relations are regulated in material ways by different institutions. Sexual geographers have therefore been challenged particularly when it comes to materializing and specializing queer theory insights.

Social sciences have been said to known for producing contrasting insights in to the whole issue of queer theory (Emberley 1993, p.100). The lack of uniformity in the insights concerning queerness and the fact that different sexuality geographers ascribe to different viewpoints makes the geography of sexuality unreliable and hence insignificant.

Geography of sexuality seems to be limited in matters concerning queer geographical imaginations hence proving to be insignificant in many aspects. There has been a call to queer geographical imaginations even further. The queering should not be limited to those divides opposing materialistic world views but should be discursive and opposed to emotions and desire against mind rationality. There needs to be queer spatial ontology. The ideas should not be fixed to place. They need to put emphasis on ephemeral connections as well as the gatherings and movements.

Issues of heteronormativity tend to be shaped by other factors rather than the geographic aspects, like morality and disability construction. The western sexuality ideas have tended to be globalised and most of their ideas are deemed as being acceptable. Their ideas may for instance come while packaged with foreign Aid like community project funding.

Their ideas about sexuality are therefore brought into the needy countries hence defining for them what is right and wrong. This therefore renders the whole idea of the geography of sexuality biased and unviable as it never addresses such issues (Hayden 1981, p. 55).

Issues of sexuality are practiced and influenced by policing differently within different regions. This causes significant differences in sexuality within different spatial locations. There seems to be no uniformity in all matters and definitions of sexuality. Some aspects of sexuality are not necessarily geographical.

There are cases for instance when there are different races occupy the same geographic region and in some cases they intermarry. This renders the whole aspect of the sexuality geography to be complex and hence dangerous to rely upon hence proving to be of no importance. Using queer in trying to understand the aspects of heterosexuality has proved to be problematic as it becomes problematic to put clear boundaries between those who are straight and those who are not (Frankenberg 1993, p. 74).

Queer Gender Spatialities

Generational cultures seem to play a very significant role in matters of sexuality. The youth today might for instance approve gay and lesbian relationships while their parents may not necessarily approve of them. In the past years, most of the work concerning queerness was mostly directed towards criminalizing queerness. Queer sexual practices were perceived as transgression and those indulging in them were mainly called to reformation (Fine 1992, p. 333).

Today there are many works that campaign for the recognition of the individuals who ascribe to the queer lifestyle. The differences in the views about sexuality may therefore be due to generational factors rather than people’s geographical locations. This therefore makes one to question where geographical sexuality comes in. Geography of sexuality may therefore in this case be perceived is irrelevant as it fails to address the issues of generational differences. Instead it focuses on spatial differences (Fuss 1987, p. 33)

Geography of sexuality tends to avoid certain aspects of sex. It restricts on what can be tackled concerning sex. It brushes over the matters of sexuality without going into minute details. There are topics about some sexual practices that tend to be avoided. Some details about sex are avoided on the ground that they are so embarrassing.

This limits the field as it cannot tackle the matters of sexuality to the fullest. Matters of queerness are for instance dealt with in an abstract and general form and some questions tend to be avoided. Geography of sexuality can therefore not be relied upon while looking at the minor details concerning sexuality and this makes it insignificant (Haraway 1988, p. 99).

Most of the sexuality geographers are straight. They are therefore not in a position to handle the topic of queerness to the fullest. In any case, they might just be biased due to their sexual orientation. They cannot fully represent the voice of the queer.

Most of them tackle the matters of sexuality with a heterosexual mindset hence failing to understand the whole issue of queerness (Hanson 1995, p. 39). The geography of sexuality research findings and perceptions concerning the matters of sexuality are therefore inaccurate and biased hence making it irrelevant.

Any Form of Research is in most cases is expected to add onto the peoples knowledge or it is aimed at finding possible solutions to human challenges. Such research usually targets a particular population or group of people. There are however numerous questions concerning the issue of Sexuality Geography. The research carried out in this case usually covers erotic subjects that some of which could be perceived as pornographic and other sexual transgressions.

The major question therefore asked is whether research carried out on topics of queerness is in anyway meant to improve people’s lives. What is the purpose of such research? To who is it directed? It seems like the general purpose? Is there any reason to study erotic in sexuality geography? This therefore renders the whole aspect of geography of sexuality irrelevant and insignificant given that the topics covered are erotic and do not necessarily add value to people’s lives.

Sexuality Geography usually leaves out so many aspects that affect sexuality, hence making it inefficient and insignificant in addressing sexuality issues. For instance the cultural differences play a very significant role in the issues of sexuality.

Different people have varying health believes, experiences or even practices concerning the matters of sexuality. This might be depended on the person’s ethnicity physical or mental state, ethnicity, gender among others. For sexuality geography to be comprehensive, it must put such factors into consideration (Gibson 1992, p. 10).

The Geography of sexuality is rich in the theoretical aspects although little is being done on the ground to at the health and sexuality studies intersections. Thus health and medical aspects are yet to be incorporated into the subject of queerness. Most of the medical geography is marginalized and hence excluded in the study of Sexuality geography hence making sexuality geography incomplete and hence of no importance (Gilroy 1994, p. 290).

Most of the people are still shy to openly speak out especially in the countries where the people who ascribe to this kind of lifestyle meet with cruelty from religious, political and other groups. Good examples are those Islamic states where gays and lesbians may be literary killed through stoning. People from such places may therefore be very reluctant to openly speak about their sexuality due to the fear of intimidation. They may on the contrary speak lies so as to save themselves hence rendering Geography of sexuality irrelevant.

Reference List

Adler, S., & Brenner, J., 1992. Gender and space: lesbians and gay men in the city. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Vol. 16, pp. 24-34.

Agarwal, B., 1993. The Gender and Environment Debate. Feminist Studies, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 119- 58.

Bell, D., & Valentine, G., 1995, Mapping Desire: geographies of sexualities. London: Routledge

Bell-Scott, P., 1993, Life Notes: Personal Writings by Contemporary Black Women. New York: Norton.

Cockburn, C., 1983, Brothers: Male dominance and Technological Change. London: Pluto Press.

Cockburn, C., 1985, Machinery of Dominance: Women, Men and Technical Know-how. Sydney: Pluto Press.

Edelman, L., 1993, Homographesis: Essays in Gay Literary and Cultural Theory. New York: Routledge

Emberley, J.V., 1993, Thresholds of Difference: Feminist Critique, Native Women’s Writing, Postcolonial Theory. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Fine, B., 1992. Women’s Employment and the Capitalist Family. London: Routledge,

Frankenberg, R., 1993, White women, race matters: the social construction of whiteness. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Fuss, D., 1989, Essentially speaking. Feminism, nature and difference. London: Routledge,

Gibson, K., & Graham, J., 1992. Rethinking class in industrial geography: creating a space for an alternative politics of class. Economic Geography. Vol. 68, No. 109-127.

Gilroy, R., & Woods, R., 1994, Housing Women. New York: Routledge,

Hanson, S., & Pratt, G., 1995, Gender, Work and Space. London: Routledge.

Haraway, D., 1988. Situated knowledges. the science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective. Feminist Studies, Vol. 14, pp. 575-599.

Hayden, D., 1981, Seven American Utopias: The Architecture of Communitarian Socialism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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