Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global and Sociocultural Studies

First Advisor's Name

Dr. Jean M. Rahier

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Caroline Faria

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Co-Chair

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Andrea Queeley

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. Laurie Shrage

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Dr. Ben Smith

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


sex, sexuality, sexual revolution, sexual community, sexual politics, kink, fetish, BDSM, alternative sexuality, polyamory, consensual non monogamy, play party, affect, emotion, intimacy, care, feminist geographies, geographies of sexualities, embodiment, resistance, race, sex, class, the erotic

Date of Defense



To date, feminist geographers and geographers of sexualities have yet to fully interrogate post sexual revolution society. In this dissertation I examine the politics of sex-positive play parties, through the case study of Kinky Salon (KS) – a global organization that claims to catalyze a contemporary sex culture revolution. This project expands on previous feminist geography and geographies of sexualities scholarship centering queer, kinky sex, demonstrating that non-normative sexual practices are informed by and contribute to sexual revolution legacies. I extend feminist geographies’ theorizing of affect and emotion to show how sexual intimacies are care-work, with the emotional power to bring about relation-building and sexual understanding. In doing so, play-based sex-positive politics are highlighted as a framework to promote community, and resistance against norms that constrain sexually deviant bodies.

This project highlights the complexities of sex-based efforts at social change, which I show continue to reflect inequalities in society even as they seek to transform it. I begin by asking: What is so political about playful sex? Answering this guiding question required a multi-sited, mixed methodological, ethnographic approach, to undertake a feminist geographical exploration of embodied sexuality, play, and care as activism. It took two years of field research to gain trust among members of a sex-positive community. I conducted fifty-three semi-structured interviews, and countless hours of informal conversations, proving crucial to my overall understanding of sex-positive culture. Time spent in the field was enriched by observant-participation as a volunteer, culminating in a transnational tour of a global community.

The data collected underscores the political contestations of inclusivity ethics and the transnational spread of sex culture aimed at changing discourses about deviant sex. I show that play is constructed as transformative for community members who adopt activist non-normative care practices that require new theorizing of sexual subjectivity. This project brings together geographies of sexualities and feminist geographies to move them forward. By revealing how affect, emotion, and intimacy, are co-constituted, I suggest that there is an opportunity to more fully explore what care ethics has to offer sexuality studies.





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