Conflicts, contradictions and commitments : men speak about sexualisation of culture

Garner, Maria (2016) Conflicts, contradictions and commitments : men speak about sexualisation of culture. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


In the past two decades sexualisation has ascended as a focus for academic, social policy and public debate: central to these debates is concern for children and young people and the significance of sexualised cultural landscapes to feminist politics and women’s social positions. A striking feature of these discussions however, is a lack of empirical, as well as theoretical, considerations of men and masculinities. Men’s accounts, perspectives and experiences of sexualisation have largely been omitted or obscured from contemporary discussions. This thesis widens the parameters of debate to include and to position men as critical agents and stakeholders in the issue. The thesis presents analysis of 154 men’s experiences of, and perspectives on sexualisation, yielded from an online survey and in depth interview process. Of these 154 men, three took part in interviews, eight in both the survey and interviews and 143 the online survey only.

The study was guided by two interconnected aims: to explore how men make sense of, and experience sexualisation; and how sexualisation may intersect with ways of being a man. These aims presented two central challenges - researching men, and masculinities and researching sexualisation - both are theoretically, conceptually and practically opaque subjects of study. A woman researching men also presented interesting tangles for research design, specifically for feminist methodologies. As the study advanced the gendered dynamics of the research context emerged as a salient site for exploring forms and flows of (some) men’s oppressive practices, and how men articulate privilege and sustain relations of inequality.

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