17 May 2016

Debate Podcast: Why Be Normal

The question Why Be Normal? is in one sense a challenge and a provocation: why do we have to act in conformity to long-established cultural models, in particular with regard to our sexual preferences? Why not be different? From another perspective, it asks us to consider why we do act and desire in the ways we do, either in conformity to, or divergence from a norm. It raises the question of personal choice and the effect of social or cultural context. In the background remains the persistent idea: We are what we are born with. Personal, cultural and biological factors are increasingly seen as interweaving to create the context in which we all individually answer the question: Why Be Normal?


Prof. Jackie Stacy (CHAIR)
Jackie Stacy is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Manchester where she is currently Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts and Languages (CIDRAL). Her publications include: Star Gazing: Female Spectators and Hollywood Cinema (1994) and Teratologies: A Cultural Study of Cancer (1997), The Cinematic Life of the Gene. (2010). She has also co-edited a number of books, including, most recently: Queer Screens with Sarah Street (2007) and Writing Otherwise: Experiments in Cultural Criticism with Janet Wolff (2013).


Dr. Meg John Barker
Meg Barker is a writer, academic, counsellor and activist specialising in sex and relationships. Meg John is a senior lecturer in psychology at the Open University and a UKCP accredited therapist, and has over a decade of experience researching and publishing on these topics including the popular book Rewriting the Rules.


Prof. Jack Halberstam
Jack Halberstam is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Gender Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. Halberstam is the author of five books including Female Masculinity, In A Queer Time and Place and Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal. Jack is a popular speaker and gives lectures internationally every year on topics including queer failure, sex and media, subcultures, visual culture, gender variance, popular film and animation.


Prof. Peter Hegarty
Peter is Professor of Psychology and Head of School at the University of Surrey. He has extensively researched the social psychology and the history of nature-nurture debates about sexuality. His first book Gentlemen’s Disagreement: Alfred Kinsey, Lewis Terman and the Sexual Politics of Smart Men was published by University of Chicago Press in 2013.


Dr. Greg Ussher
Greg is the CEO of METRO, London’s leading equality charity. Greg is also a Lay Rep (PPI) on Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group, Chair of the National LGBT Consortium, Chair of Outhouse East in Essex, Chair of the Kent/Medway LGBT Forum and Chair of the Greenwich Charitable Trust. Greg is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Greenwich and a Churchill Fellow. He has a PhD in sexual health.


Supported by: The Wellcome Collection as part of the Sexology Season
Podcast producer: Naked Productions