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Palgrave Macmillan

Sexual Politics in Contemporary Europe

Moving Targets, Sitting Ducks

  • Book
  • © 2022


  • Connects the discussions around sex work and sexual assault to broader debates on gender and sexuality
  • Looks at how EU norms governing gender and sexuality have changed
  • Explains how the EU engages with notions of ‘appropriate’ European values around gender and sexuality

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Table of contents (6 chapters)


About this book

The legal regulation of gender and sexuality has undergone dramatic changes throughout Europe in the last 40 years and this has shaped what it means to be a European citizen. Drawing on a range of interdisciplinary research, this book uses the discourses around current European sexual politics as an entry point to interrogate how, and with what effect, the EU and its Member States harness issues of gender and sexuality to support issues of higher political importance. It takes recent and ongoing political debates and legislative changes around prostitution and sexual assault as a focus. Using four national case studies: Poland, Germany, Sweden and Italy it illuminates how the EU’s desire for increased harmonisation across the Union around gender and sexuality norms and values operates differently and with specific effects across Member States. The book’s structure provides a detailed map of how and why contemporary European sexual politics is changing, and how this contributes to establishing European norms and values in developments in law and policy around prostitution and sexual assault. By examining how and why the EU and its Member States implement their policies in these two policy areas we can begin to illuminate how contemporary European sexual politics serve some groups’ interests while marginalizing ‘Others’.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Department of Criminology & Sociology of Law, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

    Sharron FitzGerald, May-Len Skilbrei

About the authors

Sharron FitzGerald is Senior Visiting Researcher in the Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law at the University of Oslo, Norway. 

May-Len Skilbrei is Professor in the Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law at the University of Oslo, Norway. 

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