Real Bodies pp 29-45 | Cite as

Sexualized Bodies

  • Kylie Stephen


There are many ways in which we can conceive of bodies as being ‘sexualized’. Bodies are considered ‘sexed’ in the biological sense that they are either male or female. Thus bodies can be sexualized in terms of their anatomy. Secondly, these sexed bodies may in turn be seen to display certain gendered behaviour. Thus bodies can be sexualized in terms of their masculinity and femininity. Finally, bodies can be seen as sexualized because they engage in certain sexual practices, for example, heterosexual or homosexual sex. Thus bodies can be sexualized in terms of their sexuality. The usual assumption is that the terms sex, gender and sexuality are definable and universal experiences; however there are many cultural norms associated with these terms and how they are developed and adopted. Upon closer examination, it soon becomes apparent that what we understand by the concept of sexualized bodies is not unproblematic and a natural given.


Black Woman Sexual Harassment Sexual Desire Subject Position Sexualized Body 
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Further reading

  1. Best, Steven and Douglas Kellner, Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations (London: Macmillan Press — now Palgrave, 1991).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. A comprehensive introductory text to postmodern and poststructural theory. It cites and explains the work of many of the key authors in this school of thought and provides contemporary critiques of the same.Google Scholar
  3. Foucault, Michel, The History of Sexuality. Volume One (London: Penguin Books, 1978).Google Scholar
  4. The first in a series of three volumes on this topic by Foucault, but acknowledged as his seminal work on the construction of sex and sexuality. Morrison, Toni (ed.), Race-ing Justice, En-Gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the Construction of Social Reality (London: Chatto and Windus, 1993).Google Scholar
  5. A large collection of brief essays, which examine the Hill/Thomas Senate hearings: they discuss how contemporary understandings of sex, race and class are constructed and the overall impact of the hearings on American society.Google Scholar
  6. Nicholson, Linda J. (ed.) Feminism/Postmodernism (New York: Routledge, 1990).Google Scholar
  7. A collection of essayswhich examine the interaction between feminist theory and postmodern theory: they specifically examine the degree to which feminists can utilize postmodern thinking for the purpose of promoting gender equality.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kylie Stephen 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kylie Stephen

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