Impersonal Intimacies Reflections on Desexualized Language in Intimacy Choreography

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Kari Barclay


In this article, Dr. Kari Barclay evaluates the concept of desexualized language prevalent in different spheres of intimacy work. "Desexualized language" describes the technique in intimacy choreography of using technical language to name choreography and sex acts. Instead of describing a scene's action as a "blow job" or urging one performer to "grope" another's chest, intimacy choreographers might describe performed action as "oral stimulation" or urge performers to "close distance between their hand and a scene partner's chest before applying muscle-level touch" (Pace, 2020, 39-71). Much of the writing and discourse of desexualized language comes from Chelsea Pace and Laura Rikard of Theatrical Intimacy Education (Pace, 2020, 10), but advocacy for desexualized language is found throughout the intimacy field, including in the work of Intimacy Directors and Coordinators (formerly Intimacy Directors International) (Kaufman, Sina, and Warden, 2019; Kaufman, Noble, and White, 2020). What exactly is desexualized language trying to do, and what might be some of its potential unintended effects?

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