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Explorations of a Sex Therapy Question in Feminism: Feminist Interventions in Sex Therapy
Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences.
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

This study aims to investigate the consequences for feminist sex therapy that it is promoted as an alternative to a mainstream approach. Analytically I focus on the relation between normativity, claims to knowledge and professional legitimacy. I study sex therapeutic academic texts, and the material is approached through a framework developed by combining Donna Haraway’s concept of situated knowledges with elements from Karen Barad’s agential realism

My analysis starts in feminist sex therapists’ criticism of how masculine norms in mainstream sex therapy lead to a flawed theory of sexual matters. Feminist sex therapists, however, allege that it is specifically feminist norms that grant a more complete theory of sex and sexual problems within feminist alternatives in sex therapy. To that effect, feminists discern sexual problems in relation to the impact a patriarchal society has on particularly women’s sexualities, and treatment is articulated as seeking to liberate women from constraints associated with gendered social positions.

In mainstream sex therapy, allegedly value-neutral insights into human physiology are called upon for the establishment of professional legitimacy. Nevertheless, normative investments are relied upon implicitly to discern sexual problems and sexual well-being with the consequence that sexual problems are understood as conditions that interfere with the ability to have sex, largely equated with coitus, and with the motivation to form coupled sexual relations. By alleviating sexual problems, these abilities and motivations are allegedly restored in the form of natural, already present, capacities for sexual functioning. Comparing my analysis to feminist critiques, I argue that the latter have not fully theorized the significance of normative investments, and have left unchallenged assumptions in mainstream therapy that enable a restorative and liberationist construal of sex therapy’s objective.

Although feminist alternatives contain a markedly different theorization of sexual problems, they have retained, from the mainstream approach, the notion that sex therapy seeks to liberate its clients. This notion stands in conflict with feminist theorizations of sexual problems, and in my conclusion I argue that feminist sex therapy would benefit from abandoning its liberationist element.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Fakulteten för samhälls- och livsvetenskaper , 2007. , p. 200
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2007:12
Keywords [en]
Feminist Sex Therapy, Situated Knowledge, Legitimacy, Feminist Epistemology
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-784ISBN: 978-91-7063-115-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-784DiVA, id: diva2:6512
Public defence
2007-05-11, Nyqvistsalen, 9C 203, Karlstads universitet, KARLSTAD, 13:15
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2007-04-21 Created: 2007-04-21

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf