Photo of Ummni Khan

Ummni Khan

Associate Professor

Degrees:B.A. (Concordia), M.A., LL.B. (York), LL.M. (Michigan), S.J.D. (Toronto), of the Bar of Ontario
Phone:613-520-2600 x 1547
Office:D590 LA (Loeb Building)

On leave for the 2023/2024 academic year

Current Research

Dr. Ummni Khan researches the socio-legal construction of deviant sexuality, with a focus on kink, sex work, and representations of hard core eroticism. Scrutinizing law alongside pop culture and progressive social movements, she considers how the policing of sexual risk discounts non-normative desires, and further entrenches other marginalities, particularly with regard to race, class, and disability. In addition to this intersectional analysis, Dr. Khan asks, how can we reframe deviancy through an epistemology of pleasure?  Her work can be found in a variety of peer-reviewed and popular venues including: The Canadian Journal of Law and Society; The University of Toronto Law Journal; Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology; Feral Feminisms; and Ryerson’s Centre for Free Expression Blog.

Current Projects

2019-2020       The Criminalization of Sex Trade Clients and the Potential for a Constitutional Challenge (Canadian Foundation for Legal Research)


  • Jean Ketterling, PhD thesis: “The Affective Experience of Intimate and Erotic Video Games”
  • Zoey Jones, PhD thesis: “Exploring Rope Bondage: Experiences of Practice and Community”
  • Caitlin Hart, MA thesis: “Kink as Sexual Orientation?”
  • Tessa Penich, MA: “(Re)conceptualizing Consent, (Re)imagining Justice: Sexual Violence and Sexual Pleasure in Canadian Law and Life”

Media and Blogs

2020    “Have We Lost The Plot With Polanski?” Centre for Free Expression Blog, Ryerson University

  1. All Joking Aside? Taking Stock of Sexual Humour at Work” Centre for Free Expression Blog, Ryerson University

2017    “Cultural Appropriation In Coldplay’s “Hymn For The Weekend” Video: An Orgasmic Defence” Centre for Free Expression Blog, Ryerson University

2016    “The Rhetoric of Rape Culture,” Centre for Free Expression Blog, Ryerson University

2016    (Op-ed) Khan, Ummni. “Why we (still) can’t get enough of Ghomeshi” Ottawa Citizen (March 20)

2016    (Quotes) Beejoli Shah, “Inside the sexy, subversive world of cum tributesFusion  (February 12)

2016    (Interview) David Hugill and Judy Deutsch, “When We Were Young: Radicals recount early experiences that shaped their political livesCanadian Dimension (May 12)

2015    (Quotes) Brigitte Noël, “‘John Shaming’ Is Actually Putting Sex Workers at RiskVice News (September 29)

2015    (Quotes) Avery Zingel, “Sex experts condemn Joy Smith’s criticism of Fifty Shades of GreyCBC News. (February 17)

2015    (Interview) Panelist, “Fifty Shades’ Of MisrepresentationHuffPost Live (February 10)

2015    (Quotes) Mélanie Berliet, “Your Dominatrix Is So Bored by ’50 Shades The Daily Beast. (February 6)

2014    “Grappling with Ghomeshi: Human Rights, BDSM identification & representation; employment law; edgy kink; sexual assault law” University of Toronto Press Publishing Blog (November 11)

2014    Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences ASPP highlight on Vicarious Kinks:  “Are some topics too taboo to tackle for a researcher?”

Selected Publications

2020    “Prostitution and Homosexuality: A Tale of Two Deviancies” University of Toronto Law Journal (accepted)

2020     “Kinky Identity and Practice in relation to the Law” in Research Handbook on Gender, Sexuality and Law (Edward Elgar Publishing)

2019      “The Treachery of Rape Representation in Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol” co-authored with Dr. Tal Kastner in I Confess!: Constructing the Sexual Self in the Internet Age (McGill Queen’s University Press)

2019    “Rape as Play: Yellow Peril Panic and a Defence of Fantasy” co-authored with Jean Ketterling, Asian Yearbook of Human Rights and Humanitarian law

2019    “Torn: A Social Media Drama over the Aziz Ansari Scandal” co-authored with Dr. Rena Bivens, Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology

2018    “From Average Joe to Deviant John: The Changing Construction of Sex Trade Clients in Canada” in Red Light Labour: Sex Work Regulation, Agency, and Resistance  (UBC Press)

2017    “Fifty shades of ambivalence: BDSM representation in pop culture” in The Routledge Companion to Media, Sex and Sexuality (Routledge)

2017    “Fetishizing Music as Rape Culture” Studies in Gender and Sexuality Vol. 18

2017    “Taking Off The Layers” [A memoir of multiple identities] No more potlucks Issue 48 (sept/oct)

2016    Let’s Get It on: Some Reflections on Sex-Positive Feminism Women’s Rts. L. Rep. Vol. 38

2016    Take My Breath Away: Competing Contexts Between Domestic Violence, Kink and The Criminal Justice System in R. v. J.A.” Oñati Socio-legal Series [online] Vol. 6:6

2016      “An Incitement to Rapey Discourse: Blurred Lines and the Erotics of Protest”  in Synesthetic Legalities: Sensory Dimensions of Law and Jurisprudence. (Routledge)

2016       “Hot For Kink, Bothered By The Law: BDSM And The Right To AutonomyLaw Matters, Canadian Bar Association (Alberta Branch)

2015      “Antiprostitution Feminism and the Surveillance of Sex Industry Clients” in Feminist Surveillance Studies (Duke University Press)

2015  “Sadomasochism in Sickness and in Health: Competing Claims from Science, Social Science, and Culture” Current Sexual Health Reports Vol. 7.1

2015   “Johns” in the Spotlight: Anti-prostitution Efforts and the Surveillance of Clients” Canadian Journal of Law and Society Vol. 30:1

2014    “The Politics of Representation” in Criminalization, Representation, Regulation: Thinking Differently about Crime (University of Toronto Press)

2014    “My Own Private Sex Wars” in Feral Feminisms Issue 2

2014   Vicarious Kinks: S/m in the Socio-Legal Imaginary (University of Toronto Press)

available at or the University of Toronto Press website

2013    “Kissing Cousins: Racism, homophobia and compulsory able-bodiedness in the controversy over Inter-Cousin Marriage” Jindal Global Law Review Vol. 4:2

2012    “Holding the Law in Contempt” in Outside In: 160 New Perspectives on 160 Classic Doctor Who Stories by 160 Writers (ATB Publishing )

2012    “Bordering on Identity: How English Canadian Television Differentiates American and Canadian Styles of Justice” in Law and Justice on the Small Screen (Hart Publishing)

2012    “Riding the Magic Carpet with Twilight” in What philosophy can tell you about your lover (Open Court Publishing)

2011    “Prostituted Girls and the Grownup Gaze” Global Studies of Childhood Vol. 1:4

2011      “Running in(to) the Family: 8 Short Stories About Sex Workers, Clients, Husbands, And Wives” Journal Of Gender, Social Policy & The Law Vol. 19:2

2009    “A Woman’s Right to be Spanked:  Testing the Limits of Tolerance of S/M in the Socio-Legal Imaginary” The Journal of Sexuality and the Law Vol. 18

2009    “Putting a Dominatrix in Her Place” The Canadian Journal of Women and the Law Vol. 21

2009    “Having your Porn and Condemning it Too:  A Case Study of a ‘Kiddie Porn’ Expose” Law, Culture and the Humanities Vol. 5:3

2007    “Perpetuating the Cycle of Abuse:  Feminist (Mis)Use of the Public/Private Dichotomy in the case of Nixon v. Rape Relief”  Windsor Review of Law and Social Issues Vol. 23

Book Reviews

2019    Book review of Staging the Trials of Modernism: Testimony and the British Modern Literary Consciousness by Dale Barleben Law & Literature Vol. 31:3

2016    Book review of The Man Who Invented Gender: Engaging the Ideas of John Money by Terry Goldie University of Toronto Quarterly Vol. 85:3

2014    “Slipping Between Danger, Pleasure and the Law: Thoughts on Three Recent Books Addressing Sexuality” Dalhousie Law Journal Vol. 37:1 (Spring)

2012    Book review of Framing Crime: Cultural Criminology and the Image

Keith J Hayward & Mike Presdee (eds)  Social & Legal Studies Vol. 21:4