Sex and Sexualities in Popular Culture: A Networking Knowledge Special Issue
In November 2015, we held a symposium on the theme of Sex & Sexualities in Popular Culture at the Watershed, Bristol. Having met at a conference on popular music fandom and the public sphere, earlier that year, the symposium was a result of our shared interest in, and work on, sex and sexualities in popular culture. Bethan has worked extensively on antifandom of Fifty Shades of Grey and the moral panics surrounding the ‘irrational’ behavior of One Direction and Twilight fans. Milena’s research focuses on sexual consent in erotic fan fiction, and they have a keen interest in how media and culture interact with the discursive construction of sex, sexualities, and consent. Through the symposium, then, we wanted to
afford a platform for postgraduate researchers and creative practitioners exploring the nuances of sex and sexualities within popular culture to meet and share ideas. Of course, the terms ‘sex’, ‘sexualities’ and ‘popular culture’ are not fixed or immutable and while we included suggestions for what papers might examine, the abstracts we received covered a range of topics, from literature and computer games to social media and fan fiction, and advertising to social activism. The symposium was well received both in person and online. We encouraged attendees to live tweet using the hashtag #popsex15, and discussions took place both at the Watershed and on Twitter about consent, the normative depictions of sex and
relationships in popular culture, misogynistic hate speech and intersex characters in literature. The amount of engagement with the ideas and themes coming out of the symposium suggested that a deeper analysis was needed, and this special issue of Networking Knowledge - Journal of the MeCCSA-PGN attempts to engage in more detail with some of these.