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"Girls don't watch porn" : a narrative analysis of women's negotiations with 'problematic spaces' Snape, Tara Dawn


This research investigates the various strategies women use to negotiate, rationalize and story their sexual identities and their relationship to potentially problematic spaces. I interviewed ten women between the ages of nineteen and thirty looking for stories from, arguably, the first generation to watch pornographic films before engaging in sexual activities themselves. After listening to women’s stories, two spaces stood out as places of fracture, tension, and also possibility – mainstream, heterosexual pornography and heterosexual anal sex. I am interested in conceptualizing women who engage in socially ‘problematic’ sites as outside the traditional dichotomy of cultural victims who are unaware of their own subordination or as subjects that are entirely resistant and agentic. For example, when porn is viewed as something only men watch, it reinforces perceptions that women are not as sexual as men. This feeds into heteronormative assumptions of women’s sexuality as biologically passive. When women in the audience are considered, questions of agency, self-reflexivity and the possibility for resistant relationships with pornography are absent. Using a narrative methodology, this research works to conceptualize women’s participation in and/or avoidance of pornography and anal sex as indicative of continual and active negotiations with postfeminist and heteronormative definitions of gender, sexuality, and sex.

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