Gender without sex(uality)? Exploring the relationship between gender and sexuality at the empirical sites of asexuality and sexual abstinence

Cuthbert, Karen Lilian Kathleen (2017) Gender without sex(uality)? Exploring the relationship between gender and sexuality at the empirical sites of asexuality and sexual abstinence. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis is a case study of the relationship between gender and sexuality at the empirical sites of asexuality and sexual abstinence. Whilst this relationship has been theorised in a number of ways, there has been limited empirical research on how this relationship ‘works’ in practice, with extant studies focusing largely on transgender. I suggest that asexuality and abstinence represent an interesting site to explore this relationship since they represent, for want of a better term, a lack, absence, or negative sexuality (in that there is a lack of sexual attraction to others, or there is an abstention from sexual activity). The study is also warranted due to the insufficient sociological research on abstinence, as well as the limitations of the literature and research in the nascent interdisciplinary field of asexuality studies.

Through conducting qualitative research (using interviews and notebooks) with 33 participants who identified as asexual or abstinent, I found that gender and sexuality were experienced as entangled in the lives of participants. With reference to the socio-structural context of hetero-patriarchy, I trace how ideas about sexual desire, sexual activity and sexual agency are (still) gendered, and how this impacts on both the construction of abstinence and asexuality as concepts, as well as in the experiences participants had as asexual people or as people who were practising abstinence. I also explore how sexuality was central to participants’ understandings of gender, and how this affected their gender identities, gendered appearances, and experiences of gendered embodiment. Ultimately, this thesis argues for the importance in theorising and researching gender and sexuality together, and in particular, for the importance of ‘gendering’ sexualities research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Gender, sexuality, asexuality, sexual abstinence, celibacy, hetero-patriarchy.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Funder's Name: Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
Supervisor's Name: Dawson, Dr. Matt and Stella, Dr. Francesca
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Ms Karen Cuthbert
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8633
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2017 15:27
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2018 10:44
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8633

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