Consuming sex: socio-legal shifts in the space and place of sex-shops
2009-03-31T11:54:21Z (GMT) by
Pornographic and erotic materials (e.g. magazines, DVDs, sex toys. fetishwear and lingerie) have always been subject to regulation because of the perceived potential of such items to ‘corrupt and deprave’. Yet the state and law has rarely sought to ban such materials, attempting instead to reduce the visibility of, and access to, them. The outcomes of such interventions have, however, rarely been predictable, something we explore with reference to the changing regulation of sex-shops in Britain and France since the 1970s. Noting ambiguities in the legal definitions of spaces of sex retailing, this paper traces how diverse forms of control have combined to restrict the location of sex-shops, simultaneously shaping their design, management and marketing. Describing the emergence of gentrified and ‘designer’ stores, this paper argues that regulation has been complicit in a process of neoliberalisation that has favoured more corporate sex-shops - without this having ever been an explicit aim of those who have argued for the regulation of sex retailing.