Unsexy Geographies: Heterosexuality, Respectability and the Travellers’ Aid Society

  • Richard Phillips Department of Geography, University Liverpool
Keywords: hegemonic sexuality, sexualised minorities, benign sexualities, Travellers’ Aid Society, , unsexy spaces, case study, power, sexuality, sexy, respectability


Hegemonic sexualities are often allowed to remain in obscurity. Geographical and historical research on sexualities, preoccupied with overtly sexualised minorities, has much to gain intellectually and politically from interrogating the hidden and apparently benign sexualities of the moral centre: people and places constructed as normal. This paper examines the work of the Travellers’ Aid Society, an organisation established in London in 1885 to assist girls and women to travel respectably and chastely on trains and ships in Britain and the British Empire. Interrogating the ‘unsexy spaces’ that were marked out and monitored in travellers’ aid work, this case study illustrates how it was (and is) not just in frank or dramatic moments of sexual expression or transgression that power is transferred, constructed, expressed and contested through sexuality; these things also happen in mundane moments of conformity and continuity.
How to Cite
Phillips, Richard. 1. “Unsexy Geographies: Heterosexuality, Respectability and the Travellers’ Aid Society”. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 5 (2), 163-90. https://acme-journal.org/index.php/acme/article/view/755.
Special Issue - Sexuality and Gender