Sex, Feminism and Lesbian Desire in Women’s Magazines: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Sex, Feminism and Lesbian Desire in Women’s Magazines

1st Edition

By Kate Farhall


200 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780367226435
pub: 2020-08-25
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This book builds on previous feminist texts that draw links between the social acceptance of feminist claims and media outputs, to draw parallels across five decades between changes in sex and relationship content and the ebbs and flows of the feminist movement.

This analysis reveals where substantive changes can be identified – in spite of an enduring commitment to hetero-monogamy – these changes rise and fall in tandem with feminism. By demonstrating this empirical relationship between cultural products and feminist organising the book validates an assumption that has rarely been tested: that a feminist social milieu improves cultural narratives about sexuality for women. Sex, Feminism and Lesbian Desire builds on ground-breaking feminist texts such as Susan Faludi’s ‘Backlash’ to present an empirically focussed, comprehensive study interrogating changes in content over the lifetime of women’s magazines. By charting the representation of sex and relationships in two women’s magazines – Cosmopolitan and Cleo – since the 1970s through an analysis of nearly 6,000 magazine pages and 1400 articles, this timely work interrogates – and ultimately complicates – this apparent linear progression of feminism.

This book is suitable for researchers and students in Women and Gender Studies, Queer Studies, LGBT Studies, Media Studies, Cultural Studies and Sociology.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Sex and women’s subordination: how sex constrains women .

Chapter 2. "You’re very interested in men, naturally": compulsory heterosexuality and sex difference

Chapter 3. "Girl-on-girl confessions!": lesbian chic and heteroflexibility

Chapter 4. "The penis monologues": pornification, male desire and aggressive masculinity…

Chapter 5. "Booty boot camp": heterosexual trends and (post)feminism…

Conclusion. Feminist tides, pop culture and radical social change

About the Author

Dr Kate Farhall is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Centre for People, Organisation and Work at RMIT University, Australia. Her research focuses on using critical feminist analyses to address women’s inequality in a range of contexts. Kate’s major projects reflect her expertise in feminist theory and violence against women, sexuality, media analysis, better work and regional perspectives. Her work has been published in journals such as Sexualities, The International Journal of Communication and Journalism Studies.

About the Series

Feminism and Female Sexuality

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies