The aim of this chapter is to discuss the emergence of a new feminine subject who we call the ‘sexual entrepreneur’. We will argue that the ‘modernization’ of femininity over the last two decades in the wake of the ‘sexual revolution’ and women’s movement, alongside the acceleration and intensi-fication of neoliberalism and consumerism, has given rise to a new and contradictory subject position: the sexual entrepreneur. This ‘new femininity’ constitutes a hybrid of discourses of sexual freedom for women, intimately entangled with attempts to recuperate this to (male-dominated) consumer capitalism. This makes this figure difficult to read, and helps to account for the familiar polarization between those feminists who appear hopeful and optimistic about the spaces that have opened up in recent years for female sexual self-expression and sexual pleasure in Western societies, and those who interpret the same phenomena as merely old sexual stereotypes wrapped in a new, glossy postfeminist guise. Contextualizing our argument in discussions about the ‘mainstreaming of sex’ (Attwood, 2009), we seek to develop notions of ‘sexual subjectification’ (Gill, 2003) and ‘technologies of sexiness’ (Radner, 1993, 1999) to explore the rise and proliferation of discourses of sexual entrepreneurship, and suggest a way of reading this that does not — or at least tries not to — fall back into the old binaries (e.g. either unproblematic liberation or wholesale recuperation).
- Sexual Performance
- Sexual Agency
- Sexual Stereotype
- Permissive Sexual Attitude
- Consumer Capitalism
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout
Purchases are for personal use onlyLearn about institutional subscriptions
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
American Psychological Association (2007) Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association).
Arthurs, J. (2004) Television and Sexuality: Regulation and the Politics of Taste (Maidenhead: Open University Press).
Attwood, F. (2006) ‘Sexed Up: Theorising the Sexualization of Culture’, Sexualities 9(1): 77–95
Attwood, F. (ed.) (2009) Mainstreaming Sex: The Sexualization of Western Culture (London: I. B. Tauris).
BBC (2009) ‘Becoming a Body Language Expert’, bbc.co.uk. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/relationships/singles_and_dating/techniques_becomeblexpert. shtml#how_i_got_there [accessed 26 May 2009].
Bordo, S. R. (1993). Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body (Berkeley: University of California Press).
Boynton, P. (2009) ‘Whatever Happened to Cathy and Claire? Sex, Advice and the Role of the Agony Aunt’ in F. Atwood (ed.), Mainstreaming Sex: The Sexualization of Western Culture (London: I. B. Tauris).
Boynton, P. and W. Callaghan (2006) ‘Understanding Media Coverage of Sex: A Practical Discussion Paper for Sexologists and Journalists’, Sexual and Relationship Therapy 21(3): 333–46.
Butler, J. P. (1997) The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press).
Butler, J. P. (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York and London: Routledge).
Buckingham, D. and S. Bragg (2004) Young People, Sex, and the Media: The Facts of Life? (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan).
Coleman, R. (2008) ‘Girls, Media Effects, and Body Image’, Feminist Media Studies 8(2): 163–79.
Durham, M. G. (2004) ‘Constructing the “New Ethnicities”: Media, Sexuality, and Diaspora Identity in the Lives of South Asian Immigrant Girls’, Critical Studies in Media Communication 21(2): 140–61.
Durham, M. G. (2009) The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It (London: Gerald Duckworth Press).
Farvid, P. and V. Braun (2006), ‘“Most of Us Guys Are Raring to Go Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere”: Male and Female Sexuality in Cleo and Cosmo’, Sex Roles 55(5–6): 295–310.
Foucault, M. (1978) The History of Sexuality (New York: Pantheon).
Foucault, M. (1988) ‘Technologies of the Self’ in L. H. Martin et al., Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault (London: Tavistock).
Gavey, N. and K. McPhillips (1999) ‘Subject to Romance: Heterosexual Passivity as an Obstacle to Women Initiating Condom Use’, Psychology of Women Quarterly 23(2): 349–67.
Gill, R. (2003) ‘From Sexual Objectification to Sexual Subjectification: The Resexualisation of Women’s Bodies in the Media’, Feminist Media Studies 3(1): 99–106.
Gill, R. (2006) Gender and the Media (Cambridge: Polity Press).
Gill, R. (2008) ‘Empowerment/Sexism: Figuring Female Sexual Agency in Contemporary Advertising’, Feminism & Psychology 18(1): 35–60.
Gill, R. (2009a) ‘Beyond the “Sexualization of Culture” Thesis: An Intersectional Analysis of “Sixpacks”,”Midriffs” and “Hot Lesbians” in Advertising’, Sexualities 12(2): 137–60.
Gill, R. (2009b) ‘Mediated Intimacy and Postfeminism: A Discourse Analytic Examination of Sex and Relationships Advice in a Women’s Magazine’, Discourse and Communication 3(4): 1–25.
Goldman, R. (1992) Reading Ads Socially (London: Routledge).
Goodwin, D. (2004) ‘A Sex Inspector Calls’, telegraph.co.uk, 23 November 23. Available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/3632286/A-sex-inspector-calls. html [accessed 10 March 2009].
Hall, P. (2005) ‘Who Do They Think They Are?’, Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal 16(1): 40–1.
HM Government (2009) Together We Can End Violence against Women and Girls: A Consultation Paper (London: Home Office).
Hollway, W. (1989) ‘Making Love Without Contraception: Towards a Theory for Analysing Accounts’ in W. Hollway (ed.), Subjectivity and Method in Psychology: Gender, Meaning and Science (London: Sage).
Jackson, S. and S. Scott (1997) ‘Gut Reactions to Matters of the Heart: Reflections on Rationality, Irrationality and Sexuality’, The Sociological Review 45(4): 551–75.
Jeffreys, S. (2008) The Industrial Vagina (London: Routledge).
Johnson, M. L. (ed.) (2002) fane Sexes It Up: True Confessions of Feminist Desire (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows).
Juffer, J. (1998) At Home with Pornography (New York: New York University Press).
Lauretis, T. de (1987) Technologies of Gender (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press).
Levy, A. (2005) Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (New York: Free Press).
McRobbie, A. (2004) The Rise and Rise of Porn Chic’, The Times Higher Education Supplement, 2 January.
McRobbie, A. (2009) The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture and Social Change (London: Sage).
Morley, D. (1992) Television, Audiences and Cultural Studies (London: Routledge).
Paul, P. (2005) Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming our Lives, our Relationships and our Families (New York: Times Books).
Pinto, P. (forthcoming) ‘From Post-Feminism to “Dildocracy”: Sex Industries and Happy Woman’s Biopolitics’, Feminism and Psychology.
Plummer, K. (1995) Telling Sexual Stories: Power, Change and Social Worlds (London: Routledge).
Potts, A. (1998) ‘The Science/Fiction of Sex: John Gray’s Mars and Venus in the Bedroom’, Sexualities 1(2): 153–73.
Radner, H. (1993) ‘Pretty is as Pretty Does: Free Enterprise and the Marriage Plot’ in H. Collins, H. Radner and A. Preacher (eds), Film Theory Goes to the Movies (New York: Routledge).
Radner, H. (1999) ‘Queering the Girl’ in H. Radner and M. Luckett (eds), Swinging Single: Representing Sexuality in the 1960s (Minnesota: Minnesota University Press).
Ringrose, J. (forthcoming) ‘Beyond Discourse? Using Deleuze and Guattari’s Schizoanalysis to Explore Affective Assemblages, Heterosexually Striated Space, and Lines of Flight Online and at School’, Educational Philosophy & Theory, Special Issue: The Power In/Of Language.
Ringrose, J. and V. Walkerdine (2008) ‘Regulating the Abject: The TV Make-over as Site of Neo-liberal Reinvention toward Bourgeois Femininity’, Feminist Media Studies 8(3): 227–46.
Rogers, A. (2005) ‘Chaos to Control: Men’s Magazines and the Mastering of Intimacy’, Men and Masculinities 8(2): 175–94.
Rudebeck, C. (2004) ‘About Last Night’, The Independent, 22 November. Available at http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/about-last-night-534175.html [accessed 26 May 2009].
Rush, E. and A. La Nauze (2006) Corporate Paedophilia: Sexualisation of Children in Australia (Canberra: The Australia Institute).
The Sex Inspectors (2004) ‘Gary and Rea’ (Channel 4, 7 December).
The Sex Inspectors (2007) ‘Nick and Sarah’, (Channel 4, 13 February).
The Sex Inspectors (2007) ‘Sally-Ann and Paul’, (Channel 4, 14 February).
Tracey Cox (2009) Available at http://www.traceycox.com [accessed 10 March 2009].
Tyler, M. (2004) ‘Managing between the Sheets: Lifestyle Magazines and the Management of Sexuality in Everyday Life’, Sexualities 7(1): 81–106.
Tyler, M. (2008) ‘Sex Self-help Books: Hot Secrets for Great Sex or Promoting the Sex of Prostitution?’, Women’s Studies International Forum 31(5): 363–72.
Whelehan, I. (2000) Overloaded: Popular Culture and the Future of Feminism (London: Women’s Press).
Wignall, A. (2008) ‘The Joy of Sexperts’, guardian.co.uk, 25 February. Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/feb/25/pressandpublishing.relationships [accessed 26 May 2009].
Williamson, J. (2003) ‘Sexism with an Alibi’, The Guardian, 31 May.
Editors and Affiliations
© 2011 Laura Harvey and Rosalind Gill
About this chapter
Cite this chapter
Harvey, L., Gill, R. (2011). Spicing It Up: Sexual Entrepreneurs and The Sex Inspectors . In: Gill, R., Scharff, C. (eds) New Femininities. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230294523_4
Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London
Print ISBN: 978-1-349-30851-4
Online ISBN: 978-0-230-29452-3