Accounting for Space, Place and Identity: GLBTIQ Young Adults’ Experiences and Understandings of Unwanted Sexual Attention in Clubs and Pubs

Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    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.

  2. 2.

    However, this article is not explicitly concerned with GLBTIQ perpetrators of sexual violence.

  3. 3.

    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.

  4. 4.

    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.

  5. 5.

    Joy FM is a Melbourne-based radio station aimed at a GLBTIQ audience.

  6. 6.

    All names are pseudonyms.

  7. 7.

    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.

  8. 8.

    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).

  9. 9.

    The phrase “cracked onto” refers to having someone make a sexual advance towards you.

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Acknowledgments

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.

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Correspondence to Bianca Fileborn.

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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

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Keywords

  • Intimate Partner Violence
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender Identity
  • Sexual Violence
  • Sexual Identity