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The 'Sex-Positive' Movement in the Context of Neo-Liberalism

Festivals such as the Sydney Festival of Really Good Sex do not exist in isolation. They belong to a wider social and cultural movement, which contests dominant attitudes towards sexuality, while actively encouraging erotic education and expansion. There is obviously a political impetus behind such events to the extent that they seek to contribute to a culture that is more erotically informed and liberated.

It cannot be ignored, however, that like almost everything else today, the so-called “sex positive” movement operates within a context of neoliberalism. More than just the dominance of monetary values and economic calculation, neoliberalism may be understood as a governing rationality through which everything (whether wealth generating or not) is economized, submitted to market metrics and governed through market techniques and practices.

This lecture will explore what are the consequences of neo-liberalism for the sex positive movement. How does neoliberalism at once enable and limit the “radical” or “socially progressive” aspirations of the sex-positive movement? And how can we identify the tendencies within this movement which may effectively resist neoliberalism? If one believes in the value of erotic festivals and erotic education, one needs to take such questions into account. 

Peter Banki, Ph.D is Research Associate in Philosophy at Western Sydney University, Australia. He has published on German romanticism, queer theory, and Holocaust studies and also works as a performer, festival producer, and curator. He is the founder and director of the Sydney Festival of Really Good Sex and the Festival of Death and Dying. His book, The Forgiveness To Come: the Holocaust and the Hyper-Ethical is forthcoming with Fordham University Press (December 2017). His website is

Later Event: February 1
An Erotic Feast with Sarka