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Outer Space and Sex

This chapter is about sex, but not the sex that people already have clarity about. ‘Outer space’ as a human, political domain is organized around sex, but a ‘sex’ that is tacitly located, and rarely spoken, in official discourse. The poli­ tics of outer space exploration, militarization and commercialization as they are conceived of and practiced in the US, embody a distinction between public and private (and appropriate behaviours, meanings and identities therein) highly dependent upon heteronormative hierarchies of property and propriety.

The central aim of this chapter is to show how US outer space discourse, an imperial discourse of technological, military and commercial superiority, configutes and prescribes success and successful behaviour in the politics of outer space in particularly gendered forms. US space discourse is, I argue, predicated on a heteronormative discourse of conquest that reproduces the dominance of heterosexual masculinity(ies), and which hierarchically orders the construction of other (subordinate) gender identities.

Reading the politics of outer space as heteronormative suggests that the discourses through which space exists consist of institutions, structures of understanding, practical orientations and regulatory practices organized and privileged around heterosexuality.

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As a particularly dominant discursive arrangement of outer space politics, US space discourse (re)produces meaning through gendered assumptions of exploration, colonization, economic endeavour and military conquest that are deeply gendered whilst presented as universal and neutral.

US space discourse, which dominates the contemporary global politics of outer space, is thus formed from and upon institutions, structures of understanding, and practical orientations that privilege and normalize heterosexualiry as universal.

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As such, the hegemonic discursive rationalizations of space exploration and conquest ,re)produce both heterosexuality as ‘unmarked’ (that is, thoroughly normal­ ized) and the heterosexual imperatives that constitute suitable space-able people, practices and behaviours.

As the introduction to this volume highlights, the exploration and utilization of outer space can thus far be held up as a mirror of, rather than a challenge to, existent, terrestrially-bound, political patterns, behaviours and impulses. The new possibilities for human progress that the application and development of space technologies dares us to make are grounded only in the strategy­ obsessed (be it commercially, militarily or otherwise) realities of contemporary global politics.

Outer space is a conceptual, political and material space, a place for collisions and collusions (literally and metaphorically) between objects, ideas, identities and discourses. Outer space, like international relations, is a global space always socially and locally embedded. There is nothing ‘out there’ about outer space. It exists because of us, not in spite of us, and it is this that means that it only makes sense in social terms, that is, in relation to our own constructions of identity and social location.

In this chapter, outer space is the problematic to which I apply a gender analysis; an arena wherein past, current and future policy-making is embedded in relation to certain performances of power and reconfigurations of identity that are always, and not incidentally, gendered. Effective and appropriate behaviour in the politics of ourer space is configured and prescribed in particularly gendered forms, with heteronormative gender regulations endowing outer space’s hierarchies of technologically superior, conquesting performance with theif everyday power.

It is through gender that US techno-strategic and astro-political discourse has been able to (re)produce outer space as a heterosexualized, masculinized realm. Heteronormativity K 1NC 2. The drive to colonize space precludes queer identities and concretizes sexual difference. This reinforces heterosexism and turns women into commodities.


Casper and Moore 95 (Monica J. , Ph. D in sociology from the University of California, San Francisco, feminist scholar and researcher on reproductive justice. Lisa Jean, Ph. D in sociology from the University

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Outer Space and Sex. (2018, Aug 26). Retrieved from

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