Look Good, Feel Good: Sexiness and Sexual Pleasure in Neoliberalism

Part of the Dynamics of Virtual Work book series (DVW)


A lucrative and ubiquitous sex advice industry, pedalled by ‘experts’ in newspapers, magazines, on television and online, is built around telling us how to have ‘good’ sex. Good (hetero)sex requires that women become knowledgeable, consuming and using tips and products to make their sex lives more pleasurable, exciting and rewarding. Almost every list of sex tips will address the interrelated issues of ‘feeling sexy’, ‘body confidence’ or ‘looking good’. The message of such advice is more than a little contradictory: first, women must undertake various forms of body work in order to look good, which will in turn allow them to feel good and enjoy sex; however, thinking ‘too much’, or too negatively, about looking good is the ultimate sin when it comes to ‘good sex’ and will certainly not lead to women (or their partners) feeling good. How can women expend considerable time and energy on making themselves ‘look good’ in the appropriate ways in order to enjoy sex, only to then almost simultaneously eradicate any thought or worry about how they look during sex? The answer is the ‘mental makeover’: the embodying of feelings of body confidence so that they are deeply felt and ‘known’, liberating women from anxiety and leaving them ‘free’ to enjoy sex.


Sexiness Sexual pleasure Technologies of the self Sexual practice Postfeminism 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Sociology & PoliticsSheffield Hallam UniversitySheffieldUK

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