Panel 4: The Docks: Semiotic Examination of Masculinity and Sexual Constructs Surrounding the Lone Sailor
Steven Dashiell (lead organizer), Dorian Alexander, Kyle Shupe, and Angus Henderson: “The Docks: Semiotic Examination of Masculinity and Sexual Constructs Surrounding the Lone Sailor”
Audio roundtable discussion – Please click below to hear comments from Dorian Alexander
Please click below to hear comments from Angus Henderson
Please click below to hear comments from Kyle Shupe
Please click below to hear comments from Steven Dashiell
Please click below to hear the final discussion amongst all four panelists
Abstract: The purpose of this panel is to examine the historic and symbolic role of two concepts, the docks and the sailor, and how they have contributed to masculinity performances and expectations among both homosexual and heterosexual men. There has been a lore surrounding the “lonely docks” and the sailor who is seeking sexual release after his time on the sea. While the imagery is highly sexualized, the setting and activity do not directly speak to the sexuality of the participants, but more to the nature of the public sex environment. The sailor, or more specifically, the navy sailor, then becomes a complex masculine figure; displayed in a manner that highlights his manhood and hardy nature, while desirous of contact with other men via sexual release. While examination of the public sex environment and the men who partake in it gives some insight into how men who do not wish to be openly homosexual interact, there is less knowledge about the norms and roles those participants perform. The grey nature of the docks as a sexual space, and the sailor as a participant, allows for any who participate to engage in behaviors that might be more toxic, as there is a deniability factor of engagement from all sides.
Bios: Dorian Alexander teaches history at Seattle Central College, specializing in queer history and representations of the past in popular culture. He is one of the editors for Drawing the Past: Comics and the Historical Imagination, an upcoming book series exploring how comics shape our understanding of history, and writes historical comics for The Nib. He was recently accepted into the PhD program at University of Washington in English Literature.
Steven Dashiell is a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland Baltimore County in the Language, Literacy and Culture Department. His research looks specifically at male-dominated subcultures and the discourses and practices that occur in spaces commonly associated with men. He has academic publishing on the Geek Anthropologist and the online journal Analog Game Studies.
Angus Henderson is a recent graduate of Oklahoma State University’s Art History undergraduate program with an emphasis on LGBT Visual Culture. His current research is on the impact of Tom of Finland on the formation of modern American gay culture. Most recently, he accepted a summer residency at the Queer Zine Archive Project in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Kyle Shupe is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cincinnati. His research interests are in gender and sexual identities, dating apps, and the sociology of desire. In his current work, he examines the social organization of desirability in queer men’s communities. He is an Assistant Editor at Social Problems.