Doing Sex: Men, Masculinity and Sexual Practices

Newcastle University, United Kingdom July 14-15, 2017

This colloquium aims to bring together the study of sexual practices and desires and critical studies of men and masculinities. We are explicitly interested in returning to some of the provocations of sexology in the twentieth century to think through men’s sexuality today. For Kinsey there is an inherent paradox in “man’s absorbing interest in sex and his astounding ignorance of it; his desire to know and his unwillingness to face the facts.” Whilst we can see some of the failings and problematics in Kinsey, Masters & Johnson, and other Sexologists, it is critical to reflect not simply as criticism of these, but also what they are suggestive and enlightening of.

 

Today, nearly seventy years after the publication of Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, after the sexual revolution, after the censorship trials, after the rise of feminism, queer theory, and LGBT activism, we wish to ask: what are men doing sexually? Men’s sexual practices, more often than not, are pathologized, diagnosed, managed, treated. Whilst productive and valuable work has been undertaken in the areas of rape culture and sexual violence, this symposium aims to explore the diversity and scope of male sexual practices. More specifically, current discussions on masculinity and sexuality tend to marginalize the fear, the excitement, the shame, the pleasure and the embarrassment that men experience when doing sex. This symposium addresses this by focusing on men doing sex.

 

Questions that might be considered include, but are not limited to:

  • Is masculinity relevant in group sex scenarios? How do men experience polyamorous relationships?

  • What can online dating and mobile romance tell us about masculinities?  

  • How is sex between straight identified men and gay identified men gendered?

  • How might we think critically and openly about men’s sex, and the changing contours of sexual politics between men and women?  How might ideas of virility be brought into play in the 21st Century, reassessing sex and ideas of masculinity this way?

  • What is the role of Viagra, Cialis, and other pharmaceutical advances in men’s sexuality in our time?

  • What does masculinity feel like in the context of activities such as cottaging, barebacking, swinging and dogging? What can Chemsex tell us about men’s subjectivities?

  • What is the role of sexology in men’s studies, for instance, what might Kinsey, Masters and Johnson, Hite, Money, Diamond, etc., offer to the field?

  • What is the role of sex therapy in discussions of male sexuality, for instance, McCarthy and Metz’s theory of Good Enough Sex?

  • How do we understand men sexual practices in S&M or BDSM in relationship to the opening of possibilities for women's sexualities? How do pro-feminist men explain power, control and consent in BDSM practice?

  • For decades, we’ve heard discussions about the possibility of the “male birth control pill,” what will this mean for male sexuality?

  • What is the role of testosterone in male sexuality and studies of men and masculinities? While there is significant interest in men with “low T,”particularly for trans* folks using testosterone before it became a “norm”?

  • What can theories of gender and sexuality, for instance, queer theory and psychoanalysis offer to the study of men’s sexuality, especially in the present?