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Sexualisation: Stories of silencing and resistance

Sexualisation is a serious issue. This study has a particular focus on discourses which produce effects of sexualisation for women and girls from a post-structural, autoethnographic position. Theoretical and philosophical positions from Foucault, Butler, Davies, Drewery and Humphreys inform the writing. I also turn to Gavey, in my use of her theory on rape myths to examine the myriad of positions available for people to take up in regard to what constitutes as real rape (2018). My experiences with sexualisation are storied into ten vignettes to examine some of the possible effects of these discursive positions and to document stories of resistance that have enabled and constrained me to take effective action. The vignettes are ordered to show there are a number of different experiences associated with sexualisation; from sexualising comments through to rape. I focus the writing on discourse to consider how sex, resistance and power are inextricably linked. Drawing from theories on power, gender, discourse, positioning, resistance, repression and consent have produced a migration of identity away from positioning my(self) as victimised towards that of Justice-Doing and resistance. Discourse analysis shows some of the effects sexualisation can produce for women and girls. I analyse how the use of particular language has been established through the ongoing production of dominant discursive positions and the effects this can produce for people within an experience. A particular focus for the analysis was to demonstrate the number of positions available to be taken up during an event and the contradictions these positions may produce. This study presents as Justice-Doing work, because it investigates how discursive practices can produce inequitable effects for women. I argue that producing equitable, discursive positions for women to take up within heterosexual relationships can be complex due to deeply entrenched, historically founded discourses that are/have been available to be taken up by people, places and institutions.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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