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Liz Morrish and Helen Sauntson

This special issue sets out to investigate a number of areas of concern, regarding gender and sexuality, which are identifiable in the current British higher education environment. We argue that current dominant 'neoliberal' discourses, which emphasise the commodification of higher education in the U.K., function to set limits upon 'equality'. While these discourses often suggest a widening of opportunities within higher education, with an emphasis upon unlimited individual freedom and choice, the lived experience can be rather different for women and sexual minorities. This issue explores the impact such discourses are having upon gender and sexuality identities and practices in the academy.

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The Male Body as Vacillation

Disability, Gender, and Discourse in The Men

Elisabetta Girelli

This article considers the representation of gendered disability in The Men (Fred Zinnemann, 1950), Marlon Brando’s first film. A groundbreaking yet deeply ambiguous text, the film explores notions of normative and non-normative physicality through the lens of masculinity, sexuality, and their implications for human status. In the light of key works by disability scholars and of Judith Butler’s discussion of the cultural construction of the body, this article examines the multiple and subversive meanings made available by the film, and the extent to which The Men allows for a different bodily identity based on dissent.

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Mari Rysst

The article is based on ethnographic fieldwork in two field sites in Oslo, Norway, that involved a sample of sixty-seven children. I discuss how ten year-old girls do gender and romance in the light of “junior” and “senior” (hetero)sexuality in the social context of romance. Considering the Norwegian media's worry concerning a presumed sexualization of childhood and the disappearance of childhood, I describe in detail what happens between partners in what is known as a going-out-with-relationship. These relationships, primarily characterized by play and not by physical intimacy, illustrate that sexual innocence in childhood still exists.

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Crimen Sollicitationis

Tabooing Incest after the Orgy

Diederik F. Janssen

Late modernity’s binary intrigue of child sexuality/abuse is understood as a backlash phenomenon reactive to a general trans‐Atlantic crisis concerning the interlocking of kinship, religion, gender, and sexuality. Tellingly dissociated from 1980s gay liberation and recent encounters between queer theory and kinship studies, the child abuse theme articulates modernity’s guarded axiom of tabooed incest and its projected contemporary predicament “after the orgy”—after the proclaimed disarticulation of religion‐motivated, kin‐pivoted, reproductivist, and gender‐rigid socialities. “Child sexual abuse” illustrates a general situation of decompensated nostalgia: an increasingly imminent loss of the child’s vital otherness is counterproductively embattled by the late modern overproduction of its banal difference, its status as “minor.” Attempts to humanize, reform, or otherwise moderate incest’s current “survivalist” and commemorative regime of subjectivation, whether by means of ethical, empirical, historical, critical, legal, or therapeutic gestures, typically trigger the latter’s panicked empiricism. Accordingly, most “critical” interventions, from feminist sociology and anthropology to critical legal studies, have largely been collusive with the backlash: rather than appraising the radical precariousness of incest’s ethogram of avoidance in the face of late modernity’s dispossessing analytics and semiotics, they tend to feed its state of ontological vertigo and consequently hyperextended, manneristic forensics.

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Love Is Culture

Al-Hubb Thaqafa and the New Frontiers of Sexual Expression in Arabic Social Media

Shereen El Feki, Elise Aghazarian and Abir Sarras

Al-Hubb Thaqafa ('Love is Culture') is a new Arabic social media platform, providing accurate and unbiased information on love, relationships and sexuality. Its website, Facebook page, Twitter feed and YouTube channel offer visitors unprecedented opportunities for interaction, exchanging ideas and opinions not only with experts affiliated with Al-Hubb Thaqafa, but also with fellow users; for all the high hopes of greater freedom of expression in the wake of the 2011 uprisings, such opportunities remain rare, in both politics and personal life, in most countries of the Arab region. Although its content, and language, were initially designed for an Egyptian audience, Al-Hubb Thaqafa has attracted Arabic-speaking visitors from around the world; its combined platforms have been visited more than nine million times since its launch in March 2014.

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Challenging Presumptions of Heterosexuality

Eva Gore-Booth, A Biographical Case Study

Sonja Tiernan

In 1925 Virginia Woolf described, with a hint of humor, how biography “is only at the beginning of its career; it has a long and active life before it, we may be sure—a life full of difficulty, danger, and hard work.“ 1 Recent debates suggest that one difficulty in writing a biography is deciding just what issues should be included. Sexuality may not always be of primary importance for a biographical study, but what if a subject's homosexuality is willfully ignored or vehemently denied by a biographer? Using the life of Irish poet and political activist Eva Gore-Booth as a case study, this article examines how misnaming Gore-Booth's relationship with her partner, Esther Roper, has helped to erase both women from the histories of Ireland and England.

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Jeremy Rich

In April 1884, a scandal erupted among colonial officials stationed in the French Central African colony of Gabon. Alexis d'Alexis, a customs officer, and Faucher, a member of Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza's third expedition into the Gabonese interior, accused one another of abuses against Africans. D'Alexis declared that Faucher had tortured a Senegalese sailor, and Faucher accused D'Alexis of engaging in sexual relationships with six African boys and men on the island. Although the charges never went beyond the colonial administration's internal correspondence, the allegations of aberrant conduct and the inquiry that resulted offer a fascinating glimpse of understandings of masculinity, internal friction, and the monitoring of intimate behavior within the French colonial administration in the Scramble for Africa. This case points to the fractured nature of state regulation of sexuality in the French empire, as well as the ways different officials defined and deployed constructions of abnormal masculinity as weapons in disputes.

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Sexy Shapes

Girls Negotiating Gender through Popular Music

Ann Werner

This article is based on ethnographic fieldwork done with a group of 14 to 16 year-old girls in a medium sized Swedish town. The study aimed to investigate the relationship between everyday music use and gender, ethnicity and sexuality. The question posed here is: "What negotiations take place when the girls discuss their favorite music and artists?" Research in response to this question shows that the identity work of negotiating how to be a teenage girl often relates to popular culture. The sample focuses on girls from Swedish, Bosnian, Turkish and Syrian backgrounds. In this article I report on the local ideas about gender and ethnicity claimed by the girls to influence their discussion of music, dress and behavior, as well as the desires that I argue structure such discussion. This research supports contemporary findings that mainstream popular music has cultural and social significance in young girls' lives.

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“A Pretty Girl of Sixteen“

Capturing the Contradictions of Female Adolescence in the Nancy Drew Series

Kate Harper

This article explores the construction of female adolescence in the first three texts of the Nancy Drew Mystery series: The Secret of the Old Clock (1930), The Hidden Staircase (1930), and The Bungalow Mystery (1930). It reviews, briefly, the development of the concept of adolescence and its gendered implications, particularly the association of female adolescent sexuality with delinquency. I argue that the Nancy Drew series rejects the construction of adolescence as a period of turmoil and emotional instability, as well as the prescription of constant adult supervision. The character of Nancy Drew also captures the contradictory messages of female adolescence in the 1930s when girls were represented as sexually attractive and aggressive but were denied sexual desire.

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Breea C. Willingham

The purpose of this article is to describe the meaning of incarceration for African American women as depicted in the narratives of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated African American women. This article uses black feminist thought as the primary theoretical framework to provide the relevant context for understanding the race, sexual, and gender oppressions that contribute to African American women's experiences with imprisonment. I argue that black women's prison narratives offer a unique insight into interlocking patterns of oppression that contribute to their incarceration, and how discrimination based on race, gender, and sexuality extends into prison.