This article considers the role of space, place and identity in influencing gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, intersex and queer (GLBTIQ) young adults’ experiences of unwanted sexual attention in licensed venues. It is argued in this article that the roles of space, place and identity are largely absent from theoretical understandings of sexual violence. Gender-based accounts of sexual violence, while important, are unable to fully account for sexual violence that is perpetrated within and against GLBTIQ communities. Drawing on data obtained through a mixed-methods study, in the first half of the article I establish the manner in which GLBTIQ young adults’ unique relationship with licensed venues appears to mediate the ways in which unwanted sexual attention occurring in these spaces is experienced and understood. The second half of this article is concerned with exploring the intersections between unwanted sexual attention and heterosexist violence and abuse in clubs and pubs. I conclude by considering the implications of these findings for theoretical understandings of sexual violence and unwanted sexual attention.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
These specific terms have been adopted as they reflect the terminology that was predominantly used by my participants. However, it is acknowledged that there is a diverse range of terminology used to describe sexual orientation and gender identity, and that not all non-heterosexual and gender diverse individuals identify themselves as belonging to the GLBTIQ communities.
However, this article is not explicitly concerned with GLBTIQ perpetrators of sexual violence.
The term “unwanted sexual attention” refers to a broad range of behaviors including verbal comments, staring and unwanted touching, through to behaviors meeting the legal definitions of sexual assault or rape. This definition is based on Kelly’s (1988) continuum of sexual violence.
The term “cis-gendered” refers to individuals who experience their sex and gender identities as being the same. That is, as both being “male” identified, or as both woman/female identified.
Joy FM is a Melbourne-based radio station aimed at a GLBTIQ audience.
All names are pseudonyms.
It should be noted here that this claim is based on participants’ perceptions of their perpetrator’s identity. There is, of course, no way of verifying whether these individuals actually identified as being GLBTIQ.
There are, of course, exceptions to this. For instance, Leonard et al. (2008) examined participants’ experiences of heterosexist sexual violence, while Tomsen and Markwell recognize that violence against gay, lesbian, and transsexual individuals “are not wholly distinct in form from other forms of masculine violence” (2009: 19).
The phrase “cracked onto” refers to having someone make a sexual advance towards you.
Anderson, I., & Doherty, K. (2008). Accounting for rape: Psychology, feminism and discourse analysis in the study of sexual violence. London: Routledge.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2006). Personal safety survey Australia. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Bernhard, L. A. (2000). Physical and sexual violence experienced by lesbian and heterosexual women. Violence Against Women, 6(1), 68–79.
Braun, V., Schmidt, J., Gavey, N., & Fenaughty, J. (2009). Sexual coercion among gay and bisexual men in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Journal of Homosexuality, 53(3), 336–360.
Browne, K. (2004). Genderism and the bathroom problem: (Re) materializing sexed sites, (re) creating sexed bodies. Gender, Place and Culture, 11(3), 331–346.
Brownmiller, S. (1975). Against our will: Men, women and rape. London: Secker and Warburg.
Buford May, R. A., & Chaplin, K. S. (2008). Cracking the code: Race, class and access to nightclubs in urban America. Qualitative Sociology, 31, 57–72.
Bullock, D. (2004). Lesbian cruising: An examination of the concept and methods. Journal of Homosexuality, 47(2), 1–31.
Chatterton, P., & Hollands, R. (2002). Therorizing urban playscapes: Producing, regulating and consuming nightlife city spaces. Urban Studies, 39(1), 95–116.
Chatterton, P., & Hollands, R. (2003). Urban nightscapes: Youth cultures, pleasure spaces and corporate power. London: Routledge.
Christopher, S., & Pflieger, J. (2007). Sexual aggression: The dark side of sexuality in relationships. Annual Review of Sex Research, 18, 115–142.
Clark, H., & Quadara, A. (2010). Insights into sexual assault perpetration: Giving voice to victim/survivors’ knowledge. Research Report No. 18. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Corteen, K. (2002). Lesbian safety talk: Problematizing definitions and experiences of violence, sexuality and space. Sexualities, 5(3), 259–280.
Corteen, K. (2004). Beyond (hetero) sexual consent. In M. Cowling & P. Reynolds (Eds.), Making sense of sexual consent (pp. 171–194). Aldershot: Ashgate.
Dalal, F. (2009). The paradox of belonging. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, 14(1), 74–81.
Erbaugh, E. B. (2007). Queering approaches to intimate partner violence. In L. O’Toole, J. R. Schiffman, & M. L. Kiter Edwards (Eds.), Gender violence: Interdisciplinary perspectives (pp. 451–459). New York: New York University Press.
Ezzy, D. (2002). Qualitative analysis: Practice and innovation. London: Routledge.
Fileborn, B. (2012a). Sex and the city: Exploring young women’s perceptions and experiences of unwanted sexual attention in licensed venues. Current Issues in Criminal Justice, 24(2), 241–260.
Fileborn, B. (2012b). Sexual violence and gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer communities, ACSSA Resource Sheet. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Fobear, K. (2012). Beyond a lesbian space? An investigation on the intergenerational discourse surrounding lesbian public social places in Amsterdam. Journal of Homosexuality, 59, 721–747.
Gair, S. (2004). It takes a community. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 8(1/2), 45–56.
Girschick, L. B. (2002). Woman-to-woman sexual violence: Does she call it rape?. Boston: Northeastern University Press.
Gruskin, E., Byrne, K., Kools, S., & Altschuler, A. (2006). Consequences of frequenting the lesbian bar. Women and Health, 44(2), 103–120.
Hammers, C. (2009). Space, agency, and the transfiguring of lesbian/queer desire. Journal of Homosexuality, 56, 757–785.
Hankin, K. (2001). “Wish we didn’t have to meet secretly?”: Negotiating contemporary space in the lesbian-bar documentary. Camera Obscura, 15(3), 34–69.
Hollander, J. (2001). Vulnerability and dangerousness: The construction of gender through conversation about violence. Gender and Society, 15(1), 83–109.
Hollands, R. (2002). Division in the dark: Youth cultures, transitions and segmented consumption spaces in the night-time economy. Journal of Youth Studies, 5(2), 153–171.
Hooks, B. (1984). Feminist theory: From margin to center. Boston: South End Press.
Jindasurat, C. (2013). LGBTQ sexual violence. Sexual Assault Report, 16(4), 49–61.
Johnson, C. W., & Samdahl, D. M. (2005). “The night they took over”: Misogyny in a country-western gay bar. Leisure Sciences, 27, 331–348.
Joseph, N. (1986). Uniforms and nonuniforms: Communication through clothing. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Katz-Wise, S. L., & Hyde, J. S. (2012). Victimization of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals: A meta-analysis. Journal of Sex Research, 49(2–3), 142–167.
Kavanaugh, P. R. (2013). The continuum of sexual violence: Women’s accounts of victimization in urban nightlife. Feminist Criminology, 8(1), 20–39.
Kelly, L. (1988). Surviving sexual violence. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Kelly, L. (1996). When does the speaking profit us? Reflections on the challenges of developing feminist perspectives on abuse and violence by women. In M. Hester, L. Kelly, & J. Radford (Eds.), Women, violence and male power: Feminist activism, research and practice (pp. 34–49). Buckingham: Open University Press.
Kilmartin, C., & Allison, J. (2007). Men’s violence against women: Theory, research, and activism. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Leonard, W., Mitchell, A., Pitts, M., Patel, S., & Fox, C. (2008). Coming forward: The underreporting of heterosexist violence and same sex partner abuse in Victoria. Melbourne: Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University.
Levinson, S., Mack, S., Reinhardt, D., Suarez, H., & Yeh, G. (1992). Halloween as a consumption experience. Advances in Consumer Research, 19, 219–228.
Lhomond, B., & Saurel-Cubizolles, M. J. (2006). Violence against women and suicide risk: The neglected impact of same-sex sexual behaviour. Social Science and Medicine, 62, 2002–2013.
Lombard, N. (2013). ‘What about the men?’ Understanding men’s experiences of domestic abuse within a gender-based model of violence. In N. Lombard & L. McMillan (Eds.), Violence against women: Current theory and practice in domestic abuse, sexual violence and exploitation (pp. 117–194). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Lombard, N., & McMillan, L. (2013). Introduction. In N. Lombard & L. McMillan (Eds.), Violence against women: Current theory and practice in domestic abuse, sexual violence and exploitation (pp. 7–16). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Lugosi, P. (2009). The production of hospitable space: Commercial propositions and consumer co-creation in a bar operation. Space and Culture, 12(4), 396–411.
Mason, G. (1993). Violence against lesbians and gay men. Violence Prevention Today. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.
McMillan, D. W., & Chavis, D. M. (1986). Sense of community: A definition and theory. Journal of Community Psychology, 14(1), 6–23.
Mueller, J. C., Dirks, D., & Houts Picca, L. (2007). Unmasking racism: Halloween costuming and engagement of the racial other. Qualitative Sociology, 30, 315–335.
Northcote, J. (2006). Nightclubbing and the search for identity: Making the transition from childhood to adulthood in an urban milieu. Journal of Youth Studies, 9(1), 1–16.
NSW Attorney General’s Department. (2003). ‘You shouldn’t have to hide to be safe’: A report on homophobic hostilities and violence against gay men and lesbians in New South Wales. Sydney: NSW Attorney General’s Department.
O’Toole, L., Schiffman, J., & Kiter Edwards, M. L. (Eds.). (2007). Gender violence: Interdisciplinary perspectives. New York: New York University Press.
Parks, C. A. (1999). Bicultural competence: A mediating factor affecting alcohol use practices and problems among lesbian social drinkers. Journal of Drug Issues, 29(1), 135–154.
Parks, C. A., Hughes, T. L., & Kinnison, K. E. (2007). The relationship between early drinking contexts of women ‘coming out’ as lesbian and current alcohol use. Journal of LGBT Health Research, 3(3), 73–90.
Radford, J., Kelly, L., & Hester, M. (1996). Introduction. In M. Hester, L. Kelly, & J. Radford (Eds.), Women, violence and male power: Feminist activism, research and practice (pp. 1–16). Buckingham: Open University Press.
Ristock, J. L. (2002). No more secrets: Violence in lesbian relationships. New York: Routledge.
Rooke, A. (2007). Navigating embodied lesbian cultural space: Toward a lesbian habitus. Space and Culture, 10(2), 231–252.
Rothman, E. F., Exner, D., & Baughman, A. L. (2011). The prevalence of sexual assault against people who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual in the United States: A systematic review. Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 12(2), 55–66.
Saewyc, E. M., Skay, C. L., Pettingell, S. L., Reis, E. A., Bearinger, L., Resnick, M., et al. (2006). Hazards of stigma: The sexual and physical abuse of gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents in the United States and Canada. Child Welfare, 85(2), 195–213.
Sheffield, C. J. (2007). Sexual terrorism. In L. O’Toole, J. Schiffman, & M. L. Kiter Edwards (Eds.), Gender violence: Interdisciplinary perspectives (pp. 111–130). New York: New York University Press.
Singer, T. (2009). A Jungian approach to understanding ‘us vs them’ dynamics. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, 14(1), 32–40.
Todahl, J., Linville, D., Bustin, A., Wheeler, J., & Gau, J. (2009). Sexual assault support services and community systems: Understanding critical issues and needs in the LGBTQ community. Violence Against Women, 15(8), 952–976.
Tomsen, S. (2009). Violence, prejudice and sexuality. New York: Routledge.
Tomsen, S., & Markwell, K. (2009). When the glitter settles: Safety and hostility at and around gay and lesbian events. AIC Research and Public Policy Series, 100. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.
Tomsen, S., & Mason, G. (2001). Engendering homophobia: Violence, sexuality and gender conformity. Journal of Sociology, 37(3), 257–273.
Valentine, G. (1995). Out and about: Geographies of lesbian landscapes. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 19(1), 96–111.
Vickers, L. (1996). The second closet: domestic violence in lesbian and gay relationships: A Western Australian perspective. Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law, 3(4).
Waldner-Haugrud, L., & Vaden Gratch, L. (1997). Sexual coercion in gay/lesbian relationships: Descriptives and gender differences. Violence and Victims, 12(1), 87–98.
Wang, Y. W. (2011). Voices from the margin: A case study of a rural lesbian’s experience with woman-to-woman sexual violence. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 15, 166–175.
Waterman, C., Dawson, L., & Bologna, M. (1989). Sexual coercion in gay male and lesbian relationships: Predictors and implications for support services. The Journal of Sex Research, 26(1), 118–124.
Watson, J. (2000). The right to party safely: A report on young women, sexual violence and licensed premises. Melbourne: CASA House.
Welker, J. (2010). Telling her story: Narrating a Japanese lesbian community. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 14, 359–380.
I would like to thank Dr. Natalia Hanley for her feedback on an earlier version of this article, and Prof Alison Young for her guidance on this project at large. I am also greatly indebted to the editors and anonymous reviewers for their insightful feedback and critique.
About this article
Cite this article
Fileborn, B. Accounting for Space, Place and Identity: GLBTIQ Young Adults’ Experiences and Understandings of Unwanted Sexual Attention in Clubs and Pubs. Crit Crim 22, 81–97 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10612-013-9221-4
- Intimate Partner Violence
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender Identity
- Sexual Violence
- Sexual Identity