SPACE, PLACE AND LOCATION IN SEXUAL SOCIAL MEDIA
Keywords:geographies of digital sexualities, nudity and kink, platforms, regional sexual social media, Nordic and Baltic contexts
Contributing to the swiftly emerging field of the geographies of digital sexualities, this panel explores the geosocial and geopolitical dimensions of digital sexual cultures by zooming in on the connections between sexual practices, geographic imaginaries, and locally embedded social media platforms devoted to sexual expression. Building on case studies of an Estonian platform used primarily by those interested in group sex (LC, est. 2018), a Swedish platform preferred by BDSM practitioners (Darkside.se, est. 2003), and a Finnish platform for nude self-expression (Alastonsuomi.com, est. 2007) we show how these platforms contribute to and shape sexual geographies in digital and physical registers. On the one hand, these platforms operate as spatialized tools which put bodies in motion in the interest of hooking up. They function as digital compasses that allow for orientation of sexual desires in physical spaces. On the other hand, these platforms also assemble localized online places for flirtation, imagination, visibility, and appreciation, which interlink bodies with the visual pleasures and vulnerabilities of seeing and being seen. We approach questions of locatedness and place-making both through the regional and linguistic boundaries within which these platforms operate, as well as through our participants’ sense of comfort and investment in the local as a space of sexual play. As sexual content and communication are increasingly pushed out of large, U.S.-owned social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr, local and (to some extent) independent platforms where sexual expression is less regulated offer an interesting counterweight.