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Building heteronormativity: the social and material reconstruction of men's public toilets as spaces of heterosexuality

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2010
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Journal number4
Volume11
Number of pages19
Pages307-325
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This paper concerns changes in the spatial structure of British public toilets for men over the last ten years from secluded, indistinctly public/private spaces towards open, largely public structures. It examines a number of past and present toilet spaces in the British city of Manchester using spatial syntax analysis to consider how spaces have been adapted and policed differently in order to reduce opportunities for sex between men. It considers how these changes relate to shifts in the legislative context and in planning and policing initiatives away from explicit homophobia towards policies of inclusion of certain sexual minorities. The paper concludes that the way in which inclusion and a post-homophobic context have been expressed through legislative changes and planning and policing initiatives in relation to public toilets has led to a more explicit heteronormalisation of public spaces. The discussion relates to current debates in cultural geography about the consequences of greater participation of sexual minorities in public and issues of surveillance, control and privacy in public spaces.