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Intimate Geographies: Bodies, Underwear and Space in Hamilton, New Zealand

This thesis examines the ways in which a small group of young Pākehā women use underwear to construct a range of complex gendered subjectivities. I explore how these subjectivities are influenced by both material and discursive spaces. Three underwear shops in Hamilton, New Zealand - Bendon Lingerie Outlet, Bras N Things and Farmers, and various visual representations depicting contemporary notions of normative femininity, are under investigation Feminist poststructuralist theories and methodologies provide the framework for this research. One focus group and three semi-structured interviews were conducted with young women who purchase and wear underwear. Participant observations of shoppers in Bendon Lingerie Outlet, Hamilton and autobiographical journal entries of my experiences as a retailer and consumer of underwear continued throughout the research. Advertising and promotional material in underwear shops and a DVD of a Victoria's Secret lingerie show are also examined. Three points frame the analysis. First, I argue that underwear consumption spaces are discursively constructed as feminine. The socio-political structures governing these spaces construct particular types of bodies. These bodies are positioned as either 'in' place or 'out' of place. Second, underwear shops can be understood as feminised, young and thin embodied spaces. Bodies that fit this description are hence positioned as 'in' place. However, female bodies that are 'fat' and/or old and male bodies are marginalised within the space and thus positioned as 'out' of place. Third, I consider particular forms of normative femininity by examining the ways in which underwear disciplines and contains the body. Women's underwear moulds and shapes flesh to fit contemporary feminine norms. Examining the specific relationship between the body, underwear and space provides a means to re-theorise geography and makes new ground for understanding how clothed bodies are constituted in and through space.
Type of thesis
Morrison, C.-A. (2007). Intimate Geographies: Bodies, Underwear and Space in Hamilton, New Zealand (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2503
The University of Waikato
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