Lecturers make the shortlist for erotic honours

August 21, 2008

An award scheme set up to honour stars of the erotic universe has a new category - for academics.

Each year, judges of the Erotic Awards set out on a quest to find the nation's best striptease artist and sex worker. But this summer, as unlikely as it may seem, three university lecturers have found themselves on the shortlist.

Organiser Tuppy Owens said the idea was to celebrate academics who "take sex seriously" as a subject. Those nominated are Belinda Brooks-Gordon, reader in psychology and social policy at Birkbeck, University of London, and Teela Sanders, senior lecturer in the sociology of crime at the University of Leeds, who both research the sex industry and are in discussions with the Home Office on the decriminalisation of sex work.

A third nominee is Lucy Robinson, lecturer in modern British history at the University of Sussex, who was nominated for her book Gay Men and the Left in Post-War Britain - How the Personal Got Political.

"If the new academic category means that a few more people read academic work then it is a valuable thing," said Dr Brooks-Gordon, whose research was prompted by a series of murders of sex workers in Sheffield in the early 1990s.

She said policy on sex work could be a matter of life or death and needed to be based on sound psychological and legal principles and evidence, rather than on "moral authoritarianism".

Dr Sanders said being nominated was a special achievement as it meant that her work had been recognised beyond her peers. "This is part of what the university system calls 'knowledge transfer', albeit a rather quirky form of dissemination," she said. "I do think that this new 'academic' category signals how the modern academic cannot afford to sit in any ivory tower."

Dr Robinson said that the awards were a celebration of consensual sexual expression of all kinds and she was "blown away" when she found out she had been nominated.

rebecca.attwood@tsleducation.com.

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