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"I have the right to my desires": que(e)rying heterosexuality and feminism in practice

Edwards , Nichole K (2014) "I have the right to my desires": que(e)rying heterosexuality and feminism in practice. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis considers the relationship between feminism and heterosexuality in practice. It aims to explore how feminist values and beliefs help to shape or inform (hetero)sexual practices, identities and relationships. In turn, it highlights how lived experiences of (hetero)sexuality influence feminist politics. Seventeen feminist-identified women explored this complex relationship through solicited diaries and semi-structured (follow-up) interviews. Theoretically informed by a feminist phenomenological poststructuralist framework, this research argues for the importance of lived experience as a way of making meaning. Equally, it recognizes the narratives presented as part of a much broader social world – a world with already established meanings. Participants are understood as both producers and carriers of meaning, where the social world is constructed through their actions (and stories), but who are, in turn, being constructed by them. Plummer notes that sexual stories work in many ways - they reinforce the dominant culture, and at the same time, put it into question. These women’s experiences have proven to produce both. The findings of the research suggest that feminist values not only influence experiences of heterosexuality within the context of a sexual encounter, but also between instances of sex (through everyday interactions that occur outside a sexual encounter) and beyond the context of sex. This three-part approach supports the idea that meaning-making is fluid, unstable, and subject to change as participants move through different contexts of sex; as such, the findings present an understanding of plural feminisms and multiple heterosexualities, where feminist values and identities are just as various in meaning as the (hetero)sexual experiences from which they emerge. Grounded in often complicated and contradictory narratives, this research explores a relationship between feminism and heterosexuality that acknowledges its complexities and possibilities, tensions and potentialities, and in doing so, presents a nuanced understanding of feminist heterosexualities.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: (hetero)sexuality, feminism, choice, sexual practices, desire and pleasure, agency
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Sociology and Social Policy (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > University of Leeds Research Centres and Institutes > Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Nichole Edwards
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2015 16:25
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2017 00:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8263

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