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Thinking Sex Conference

Thinking Sex Conference

The USF Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies will host the Thinking Sex Conference on the USF Tampa campus on March 1, 2024, commemorating the 40th anniversary of Gayle Rubin’s foundational Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality. The keynote, Thinking Sex Across Time & Space, will be presented by author and professor JE Sumerau. This conference is funded through ResearchOne.

First published in 1984, Rubin's piece contributed to the nascent and growing fields of LGBTQ+ studies, sexualities studies, and queer theory by arguing that sexuality is not only a worthy but a necessary subject of conversation because sexuality is a key mechanism of political, social, and interpersonal control. In the forty years since, study of sexuality in its myriad forms and manifestations has burgeoned exponentially. This conference aims to explore, share, and debate current work in these fields taking place in the USF community.  

registration and Conference details

  • Date and Time: March 1, 2024 from 9:30am - 6:00pm
  • Location: TECO Hall at USF in Tampa, FL, located in the David C. Anchin Center (Education Building) 4110 USF Apple Dr, Tampa, FL 33620
  • Cost: free
  • Registration: all attendees, including presenters, must register by February 23, 2024
  • Attendance: all-day attendance is not required
  • Disability Accommodations: if you require a reasonable accommodation to participate in a WGS event, please contact Jennifer Ellerman-Queen at 813-974-5520 at least five (5) working days prior to the event.
  • Conference Schedule: available below.
  • Questions: email us with questions and concerns.

Conference Schedule

9:30am-6:00pm: Posters / On Display Throughout Conference in TECO Hall

  • Dr. Jennifer Caputo-Seidler / College of Medicine: STI Stigma: A Narrative Medicine Research Study (co-authors Madeline Baker and Nandini Goel)
  • Mariah Wilkerson / Psychology: A Questionable Character?: Stereotypes of White and East Asian Men and Women with Asymmetric Attractions (co-author Dr. Jennifer Bosson)
  • Shellamar Bakari / Psychology: Trauma and Attachment as Unique Predictors of Non-Monogamy (co-author Dr. Anthony Coy)

9:30am-10:45am: Panel I: Interrogating Sex & Gender in Health & Medicine / Moderator: Dr. Milton Wendland 

  • Grace Beilman / WGSS: Muscle Memory: Exploring the Socio-Cultural Factors of Sexual Pain in People Assigned Female at Birth
  • Celeste Jasmine Cash / Sociology: How Autistic Sexual Narratives Resist and Expand Upon Normative Constructions of Sex
  • Beth Gaines / Sociology: Flat Denial: Giving Gender through the Medicalization of Breast Cancer Reconstruction Surgery
  • Deborah Omontese / WGSS Alumni: Invisible Wounds: Unmasking the Mental Health Burden of Poverty and Colonial Trauma in Indigenous Women
  • Emma Sonenblum / WGSS: The Impact of Anti-Sex Education on Risky Sexual Behavior

11:00am-12:15pm: Panel II: Examining Sex & Gender in Pop Culture and Media / Moderator: Dr. Lindsey Carman Williams

  • Bobbie Straughter / Sociology: The Hypersexualization of Brown and Black Queer men, and what it means in today’s America
  • Charles Suor / WGSS: Virgincore: Alt rock for nerds
  • Filipa Torres / Politics, University of Exeter: Mediating the good, the bad and the rough: Analysing (de)legitimation strategies in contemporary British newspapers and magazines' coverage of rough sex
  • Hilda Sheridan-Hewlett / Liberal Arts: Do Blondes Have More Fun? Beyond Iconography in Cinematic Narratives - A Comparative Analysis of Sexuality Rapunzel in 'Tangled' (2010) and Barbie in 'Barbie' (2023)
  • Isabella Rabadi / English: Female Relationships as a Catalyst for Women Regaining Sexual Equity and Sexual Freedom

12:15pm-1:00pm: Brown Bag Lunch

Stretch your legs and grab some food on campus, or bring a lunch to eat in the conference room. 

1:00pm-1:45pm: Keynote: Thinking Sex Across Time & Space with JE Sumerau

When and where do we learn about sex, gender, or sexuality? Who conveys this information and how does it shift over time and from place to place? What role do media, sports, schools, religions, medicine, or politics play? What effect do regions, generations, communities, and families have upon us? These questions allow for Thinking Sex Across Time & Space, for Rethinking when and where we became and become and may become sex, gender, and sexual beings in personal and political contexts. Such questions remind us that we can imagine how our lives in certain places, at certain times, translate into the different sexes, genders, and sexualities we do as well as how we respond to others doing the same and different versions of these conceptual and embodied possibilities. 

JE Sumerau

JE Sumerau

J.E. Sumerau (they/them) writes about the intersection of sexualities, gender, health, violence, and cultural forms. They are the author of 7 novels and 5 nonfiction books including the Southern Gothic queer epistolary novel Transmission and a nonfiction exploration of masculinities entitled Violent Manhood. They are also the director of applied sociology at the University of Tampa, and the author of over 100 short fiction and nonfiction works published in varied literary, medical, and social scientific journals, magazines, and edited volumes. For more information, please visit

2:10pm-2:50pm: Panel III: Thinking Asexually: Interrogations Across Disciplines and Perspectives / Moderator: LJ Connolly

  • Megs Peterson / WGSS: Making the Political Personal: Asexuality and Relationship Anarchy as Generative Relationship Frameworks
  • Nick Colecio / English: Beyond Asexual Readings: Generative Asexuality in Margaret Cavendish’s The Convent of Pleasure
  • Lee Davis / WGSS: Exploring Asexuality and the Erotic: Queer Viewership in Sexual Media Cultures

3:00pm-3:40pm: Panel IV: Queering Sex, Sexuality, & Gender / Moderator: Dr. David Rubin

  • Gabi Pfeiffer / Sociology: "Life's So Fun!": Positive Representation, Celebration, and Queer Joy as Resistance in LGBTQ+ Popular Music Artists
  • Lindsay Rodriguez / WGSS: Race, Humanity, and the Queerness of it All: How Queering the Meaning of Humanity Can Overcome Hierarchies
  • Lukas Goodwin / English: Overcoming the Erasure, Domination, and Oppression of Queer Transmasculine Identities Within America’s Cis-Heteronormative Patriarchy

3:50pm-4:50pm: Panel V: Investigating Sex & Gender in Politics, Law, & Sport / Moderator: Dr. Kim Golombisky

  • Dr. David Rubin / WGSS: The Intersex Exception and the Intersex Ungovernable
  • Dr. Travis Bell / Mass Communications: Naturalizing Woman: A Panicked Return to Sex Exclusion in Women's Sport, 2017 - 2023 (co-author Anne Osborne)
  • Abigail Blackadar / Interdisciplinary Global Studies: Towards An Inclusive Future: A Policy Proposal for Correctly Housing Trans People in U.S. Prisons and Jails
  • Matthew Lewicki / History: Spain, Sodomy, and the Sunshine State: A Temporal Comparison of Sexual Position and Orientation Restrictions in Colonial New Spain, and the U.S. State of Florida

5:00pm-6:00pm: Panel VI: “Before Diving into the Juicy Stuff”: Building Open Spaces with Youth to Enhance Sex Education / Moderator: Dr. Jill McCracken

The Allies for Healing Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is a collaborative group of young people ages 13-20 who contribute to the Choosing Myself curriculum, an inclusive, comprehensive sexuality education program. The YAB provides expertise to help evaluate and then adapt the curriculum. This panel outlines how the YAB contributes to the evaluation of Choosing Myself while supporting youth development and community involvement

  • Jill, McCracken PhD. / Project Director of Choosing Myself: An inclusive Comprehensive Sexuality Education program and facilitator of the Allies for Healing Youth Advisory Board (YAB)
  • Natashia Milburn, B.S. / Mindful Program Specialist for Choosing Myself and facilitator of the Allies for Healing Youth Advisory Board (YAB)
  • Harvieleisha Stevens / Allies For Healing Youth Advisory Board Participant
  • Megan Bookspun / Allies For Healing Youth Advisory Board Participant