In the second of a new series of ‘Introducing…’, here’s an introductory post from Katharine Parker. You can check out the first in the ‘Introducing…’ series here. If you’re active in the area of law and sexuality (as a student, activist, practitioner or academic and would like to do a blog post, give me a shout). Here’s what Katharine has to say about herself:
I am a full time first year Law PhD student at Northumbria University supervised by Professor Chris Ashford. I am currently in the early stages of developing my thesis which will focus upon the impact that an increased service provider presence within public sex environments in Newcastle upon Tyne has on men who have sex with men in these spaces.
Recent years have seen a surge in the development of services such as outreach projects and drop in centres offering a variety of services such as free condoms and safety kits as well as a range of social/health advice services. Mostly these services have been developed with an intended target client group of sex workers in mind, however, with a growing infiltration of such services into spaces such as public sex environments in order to engage with their intended client group, I am interested in exploring what potential impact this has on the risk taking behaviours of others within the space, more specifically men who have sex with men.
With an increasing infiltration and arguably a dilution of ‘gay space’ by those considered outsiders, I am interested in discovering how this impacts upon the individual and collective construction of risk for men who have sex with men in public sex environments and indeed if this has in fact changed over time as more projects have been developed and deployed. I also aim to explore the impact that new technologies are having in enabling the creation of networks outside of the physical space of the public sex environment and the role of such networks in relation to risk management.
My interest regarding the impact of service provider presence within public sex environments particularly within the North East of England stems from my background of working as a Housing Officer within a Local Authority office in this area and prior to this as an outreach worker for a locally based charity. As a service provider there is an ever increasing emphasis on public engagement and tailoring services aimed at hard to reach/underserved communities, those engaged in public sex and those affected by public sex being a particular focus for me. Due to my background in both enforcement and supportive roles I find it of great interest, that services that are created primarily with a harm reduction agenda, may in fact impact negatively upon the risk taking behaviours of others and as such creating a juxtaposition whereby those targeted perhaps for supportive harm reduction services are driven into the net of enforcement.
Although my thesis is still very much in the early stages of development, I am very eager to hear from others with similar research interests, I can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org