My Research

Sexy Girls: The Cultural Politics of Sex from Raunch Culture to #MeToo


My thesis is called ‘Sexy Girls: The Cultural Politics of Sex from Raunch Culture to #MeToo’ which I am undertaking at the Centre for Women’s Studies at the University of York.

I am interested in what cultural and political shifts have occurred between key ‘moments’ in sexual politics such as the days of Raunch Culture, FHM and Gentleman’s Clubs to the current #MeToo movement.

As long as there has been feminism, there have been sexual politics. The social, cultural, spiritual and hegemonic norms and rules about who and what is sexy, how that ‘sexy’ should be performed, understood and interpreted and what sexual empowerment looks and feels like have been hotly debated for decades. My research is focused on the evolution of this debate in the last 10 or so years; a period that has felt the cultural legacy of the ‘sex wars’ of the 1970s and 80’s, witnessed the spread of pole dancing kits, lad’s mags, gentlemen’s clubs, Playboy bunnies, Katie Prices and FHM’s of 1990s/00s Raunch Culture to arrive at the current #MeToo ‘moment’.

What changes have occurred during this period? What driving forces are at play? What does the current ‘moment’ mean for the sexual freedom of women and girls both now and in the future? How do self-identified feminists who have taken interest in these changes understand this evolution, and how has feminism itself and the broader cultural backdrop progressed in recent years?

My research takes a multi-faceted approach combining virtual and real-world discussion, creative and craftivist workshops, textural analysis of cultural artefacts and celebrity selfies.

A Key component of my thesis will be autoethnographic work in which I will be focusing on how I am politically and culturally situated in my research. I will be introspecting on my biases, conflicts, privileges, experiences and opinions of the research process and examining how my ongoing battles with depression and generalised anxiety interact with my research. In addition I will be reflecting on how my own understandings and responses to the moments of sexual politics that I have experienced a in a bid to create research which in addition to having academic merit, serves as a form of feminist political activism.