Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Transgressive Sex

Transgressive Sex: Subversion and Control in Erotic Encounters

Hastings Donnan
Fiona Magowan
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 290
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Transgressive Sex
    Book Description:

    Sex is often regarded as a dangerous business that must be rigorously controlled, regulated, and subjected to rules. Sexual acts that defy acceptable practices may be seen as variously defiling, immoral, and even unnatural. They may challenge and subvert both cultural preconceptions and the social order in a politics of sexual transgression that threatens to transform permissible boundaries and restructure bodily engagements. This collection of essays explores acts of sexual transgression that have the power to reconfigure perceptions of bodily intimacy and the social norms of interaction. Considering issues such as domestic violence, child prostitution, health and sex, teenage sex, and sex with animals across a range of settings from contemporary Oceania, the Pacific, South Africa, and southeast Asia to Euro-America, this book should interest all those who question the "naturalness" of sex, including public health workers, clinical practitioners and students of sex, sexuality, and gender in the humanities and social sciences.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-890-4
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Hastings Donnan and Fiona Magowan
  4. CHAPTER 1 Sexual Transgression, Social Order and the Self
    (pp. 1-24)
    Hastings Donnan and Fiona Magowan

    This book is about sex that crosses or threatens to cross boundaries and about sex acts that flout social, moral and cultural convention. The topic is timely. Never before have we been so exposed to, knowledgeable about and seemingly accepting of the range of sexual practices and activities once known only to professional sexologists or contained in the erotic exotica of anthropologists. Sexual variety and experimentation have now become the everyday fare of teen magazines, television soaps and Internet chat rooms as a titillating tattle that stimulates sales and perhaps much else besides. Anything goes, and the self-gratification of what...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Sexually Active Virgins: Negotiating Adolescent Femininity, Colour and Safety in Cape Town
    (pp. 25-46)
    Marie Rosenkrantz Lindegaard and Ann-Karina Henriksen

    In South Africa, adolescent girls are subject to stringent social and moral controls over the management of their sexuality and sexual practices (Mørck 1998; Gammeltoft 2002; Salo 2004). In the poor, coloured townships of Cape Town, discourses of respectability and virginity render adolescent femininity safe. As adolescent girls become sexually mature, they enter a morally contested space in which they must deny their emerging sexuality by demonstrating sexual restraint. Such restraint secures their ‘social safety’ by ensuring that they are accepted into the wider networks of kin and neighbours that underwrite daily life in the townships. Although respectability is a...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Summer Sex: Youth, Desire and the Carnivalesque at the English Seaside
    (pp. 47-68)
    Suzanne Clisby

    In the UK, there have been recurrent moral panics about the promiscuity of young people, teenage pregnancy and the rise of sexually transmitted diseases (see also Roche, this volume). Any increase in the number of teenage parents is presented as an indicator of moral decline. Because young people’s sexuality and erotic desire can be constructed as transgressive and deviant, they become subject to state intervention in a highly politicised arena. This chapter is concerned with situations in which young people confront, negotiate and utilise this putatively transgressive sexuality in specific geographical and embodied spaces. Drawing on research conducted amongst young...

  7. CHAPTER 4 A Curious Threesome: Transgression, Conservatism and Teenage Sex in the ‘Free House’ in Northern Ireland
    (pp. 69-90)
    Rosellen Roche

    It was just a few days before Saint Patrick’s Day, 17 March 2000, when the conversation started about ‘free houses’ and where they were going to be that year. ‘What time?’ and ‘Where is it?’ were the most commonly asked questions among the teenagers drifting in and out of the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) tuition room, a facility for young people who had left school at age sixteen, training them in skilled and semi-skilled trades. After all, everyone was going to have the day off and that meant a party, and, potentially, a free house. For the young people I...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Zoosex and Other Relationships with Animals
    (pp. 91-112)
    Rebecca Cassidy

    Zoosexuality, a sexual orientation towards animals, is one of a number of identities that emerged on the Internet during the 1980s and 1990s, alongside distinct but related groups of furries, plushies and therians (weres).¹ The anonymity of the Web created a space in which people who enjoyed sexual relationships with animals could discuss their activities unencumbered by the anxiety of discovery. By the mid-1990s, one could marry one’s animal partner at the First Church of Zoophilia, receive practical instructions on how to have sex with a wide variety of species of animals, and conduct a discussion as to the pros...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Dancing Sexuality in the Cook Islands
    (pp. 113-130)
    Kalissa Alexeyeff

    One of the most startling events in my entire time conducting fieldwork in the Cook Islands occurred when I asked a male friend if he was gay.¹ This incident occurred directly after the annual Drag Queen Competition held at a nightclub on the main island of Rarotonga. After the competition, the resident string band played a final set which ended, as is commonplace, with a slow number to which men and women dance the ‘last waltz’ together. During this number, a man who fancies a woman will ask one of the following questions: ‘Where do you stay?’ or ‘How did...

  10. CHAPTER 7 ‘Let Them Hear Us!’ The Politics of Same-sex Transgression in Contemporary Poland
    (pp. 131-150)
    Monika Baer

    In contemporary Poland, homosexuality is beginning to be debated in public, though mainly only in academic and sociopolitical circles. In the eyes of many, this exemplifies ‘an initial emancipating stage’ (Leszkowicz 2004: 97) and an encouraging development in the face of the homophobic voices that have long resisted attempts by gay rights activists to air gay issues more widely (Kitliński and Leszkowicz 2005). Anna Gruszczyńska (n.d.), a lesbian rights activist, concludes her essay on the invisibility of the lesbian movement in Poland with an appeal to ‘Let them hear us!’ The result of such calls is that homosexuality in Poland...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Taming the Bush: Morality, Aids Prevention and Gay Sex in Public Places
    (pp. 151-166)
    Laurent Gaissad

    This chapter explores the temporal and spatial dynamics of secret encounters between men who seek sexual partners in city neighbourhoods associated with male sex work and gay cruising. Focusing on sexualised public places in the south of France, it examines the interaction between gay men whose activities are shaped by urban planning, and the cyclical redesignation of such spaces according to the time of day or night (Gaissad 2005). In addition to the powerful influences of urban planning on the ecology of such ‘moral spaces’ within the cityscape, the chapter examines the impact of ‘do-gooders’ on these environments (Park, cited...

  12. CHAPTER 9 Transgression and the Making of ‘Western’ Sexual Sciences
    (pp. 167-190)
    Mark Johnson

    This chapter explores some of the connections between the contemporary anthropology of gender and sexual diversity and nineteenth- and early twentieth- century sexology. As others have suggested, present-day anthropological work on gender and sexual diversity tends to suffer from genealogical and historical amnesia (Roscoe 1995; Weston 1998: 1–28; Lyons and Lyons 2004). The important question is: what are the effects of this amnesia? Here I want to suggest two. First, the distinction between ‘Western’ and ‘non-Western’ discourses of sexuality and erotic practice have not been sufficiently interrogated. Secondly, there is an assumption that a distinct epistemological and ethical gulf...

  13. CHAPTER 10 What Constitutes Transgressive Sex? The Case of Child Prostitution in Thailand
    (pp. 191-210)
    Heather Montgomery

    In the West, sex between an adult and child is one of the most transgressive forms of behaviour imaginable. Fear of paedophiles is widespread and adults who have sex with children are vilified. When adult/child sex is overlaid with a commercial aspect and children are paid for sex, it creates even greater social anxiety. In the 1990s, the commercial sexual exploitation of children, especially that involving Western men buying sex from children overseas, became an issue of particular concern, and pressure from non-governmental agencies forced changes in international law and practice, so that, for the first time, men could be...

  14. CHAPTER 11 Courting Transgression: Customary Law and Sexual Violence in Aboriginal Australia
    (pp. 211-234)
    Fiona Magowan

    Managing sexual transgression in Aboriginal Australia is particularly complex as, in some regions, appeals for justice may be made via two realms of jurisdiction, either customary law or the courts. This chapter assesses how the courts have responded to the significant rise in rape, domestic violence and sexual abuse cases amongst Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. It considers how sexual taboos have been shaped by Aboriginal customary laws and impacted by colonial intervention as well as by postcolonial changes to kinship structures. Taking Yolngu of north-east Arnhem Land as a case study, I argue that kinship is central to...

  15. CHAPTER 12 Managing Sexual Advances in Vanuatu
    (pp. 235-252)
    Ingvill Kristiansen

    This chapter considers disparities in sexual and erotic understandings and encounters between the fieldworker and those with whom she works. Few anthropologists have written about sexual transgression in the field, and published material on such issues is scant, offering only limited insight into how sexual assault and reactions to it are culturally shaped and understood when they involve the fieldworker. Nor has much been written in anthropology about the relationship between fieldwork, sex, identity and erotic subjectivism (though for an important exception see Kulick and Willson 1995). During fieldwork on Tanna (1998–99), I received a number of hazardous lessons...

  16. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 253-256)
  17. Index
    (pp. 257-282)