Embodying Sexy: Narrative Inquiry into Female Sexuality and Consumer Culture
Travis, C. (2011). Embodying Sexy: Narrative Inquiry into Female Sexuality and Consumer Culture (Thesis, Master of Management Studies (MMS)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5533
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5533
This research investigates female sexuality and consumer culture. It focuses on sexy as a form of expressing sexuality. The main objectives of this research were to understand what sexy meant to a group of young women and how they were socialised into their meaning through the consumer culture they live in. A narrative inquiry is used to understand these women’s embodied experience using collective biography and digital storytelling methods. A group of seven women participated in three group meetings to collectively research sexy. Collective biography and digital storytelling were layered upon one another to understand these women’s experiences of sexy and to enable collaborative analysis. Through the meetings the women progressed through the meetings in their comprehension of their own and the collective’s meaning of sexy. They did so through the creation of memory and digital stories. The research highlighted sexy as complex, contradictory, consequential, and dynamic for these women. Sexy was complex because it was embodied as multisensory. It was also contradictory because the images of sexy presented in consumer culture are not consistent with these women’s beliefs. The contrary nature of sexy resulted in envy, low self-esteem, and objectification. Sexy was also dynamic because it changed as the women matured. Sexy is embodied. It requires more than simply achieving just the look. It is experienced as multisensory. These women’s experiences and images of sexy differ from those presented in consumer culture. The research challenges the assumption that adult women can and do act on their knowledge that adverts are fantasy. It provides a new insight by highlighting transformation through the collaborative research process. These women were able to understand how they had been socialised into their meaning of sexy and make better informed choices. The research also highlighted the fine line these women walk between slutty and sexy due to the virgin/whore dichotomy. This research contributes in two ways: by suggesting future directions for the sexual education of adolescent girls and more research on young adult women, their experiences of sexuality, and the influences from consumer culture.
University of Waikato
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