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Chloé Locatelli・Conceptualising ‘Posthuman Sexual Commerce’: Towards a Digital Sex Industry

Work-in-Progress Discussion

July 29 @ 3:00 PM 5:00 PM JST

The MGS held a hybrid meeting at the University of Tokyo on Friday, 29 July 2022 to discuss and provide feedback on Chloé Locatelli’s research “Conceptualising ‘Posthuman Sexual Commerce’: Towards a Digital Sex Industry.” The presentation was held in-person on the Hongō campus and shared online over ZOOM.

Presenter:

Chloé LOCATELLI is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London, where she is researching posthuman sexual commerce. Her research interests include gender studies, posthuman theory, sexual commerce, robotics, digital cultures, feminist theory and sex work. She is currently affiliated for the summer as a visiting research scholar at the University of Tokyo.

Abstract:

This presentation explores how heterosexual men’s sextech developments replicate desirable features of post-industrial sexual commerce – heralding a shift into “posthuman sexual commerce”.

In David Levy’s seminal “Love and Sex with Robots”, the potential for sex robots to replace and/or disrupt human sex work is explored (2007). Since this postulation, research has increasingly interrogated this possibility. However given that sex robots are in their nascent stages, and just one example of sextech developments, this research interrogates existing sextech’s intersections with sexual commerce (Locatelli, Pending). My research introduces ‘posthuman sexual commerce’ as a concept to explore how heterosexual men’s sextech replicates desirable aspects of post-industrial sexual commerce.

Applying posthuman theory provides a rigorous base to interrogate the notion of ‘human’ and interrelationships with non-human others, particularly in relation to technological developments. Exploring this in conversation with sexual commerce literature provides the basis to consider the nuances of paid-for sexual interactions. Recent sexual commerce literature highlights three salient points. Firstly, that it is overwhelmingly heterosexual men paying women for sexual experiences. Secondly, emotional interaction and intimacy is a significant factor in these exchanges. Finally, sexual commerce is increasingly consumed as leisure and ludic activity. Departing from these three focus points, my research “interviews posthuman objects” to interrogate how sextech products advertise and afford these features (Adams and Thompson, 2016). This investigation firstly argues sextech products are reliant on a ‘remediated femininity’, exploring to what extent the products digitally remediate and advertise engagement with desirable forms of femininity.  It then explores how the products present emotional interaction as attainable through constructions that afford ‘performative intimacy’, where gendered-female forms of sextech are presented as capable of satisfying desires for intimacy and closeness. Finally this research considers the ludic and leisure dimensions of sextech that increasingly replicates and encroaches on game terrain, offering digitalised forms of ‘sex as leisure and play’.  I argue that the interplay of these factors suggests emergent forms of ‘posthuman sexual commerce’ where digital feminities provide technologically mediated emotional, erotic and ludic experiences of sexual interaction also prevalent in sexual commerce exchanges.

東京大学大学院情報学環本館

The University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, Main Building 6F
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033 Japan
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*Not open to the public