Gender, Sexuality, and Space Culture explores how traditional ideologies of gender and sexuality have influenced the culture of space travel. The time since humans first began exploring outer space has been marked by both great technological development and great social upheaval. Yet while the rapid technological advancement of the mid- to late-twentieth century made human spaceflight a reality, the field has shown some resistance to cultural change over the same period.
Ideas about the body in space and the future of humanity are at the core of the development of human spaceflight. This book examines how these have been constructed as specifically a male body and a heterosexual future. These presumptive norms are not unusual, but this book argues that the unique attributes of outer space can be productively used in advancing theories of culture beyond the extra-terrestrial
Introduction: Space and Time in Outer Space / Part I: The Body in Space / Introduction to Part I: ‘Our first girl in space’ / 1. Women as Astronauts / 2. Interstellar Communication and Space Art / 3. Taking Feminist Geography into Orbit / Part II: Sex in Space (and Time) / Introduction to Part II: Families at Work / 4. Sexual Culture in Space / 5. Retro-Futures and Reproductive Futures / 6. Queering Space, Queering the Future / 7. (Conclusion): Critical Optimism and Spaceflight
Kat Deerfield is a Research Associate at the School of Social Science, Cardiff University
Gender, Sexuality and Space Culture offers a distinctive, insightful investigation of space culture, interrogating its gendered and heteronormative underpinnings. It explores how problematic understandings of gender and sexuality have informed the structuring and organisation of spaceflight and the broader culture it sustains. In a rich examination of the spatiality and temporality of space culture, Deerfield uses the resources of feminist and queer theory to illuminate this crucial, but largely neglected, sphere of gender and sexual normativity. She also suggests how critical encounters with this domain may, in turn, enrich queer and feminist theory, helping to re-orientate towards more utopian futures. Deerfield’s book is a valuable contribution to and extension of the critical gaze of cultural studies.