1st Edition

Women, Sex, and Madness Notes from the Edge

By Breanne Fahs Copyright 2020
    228 Pages
    by Routledge

    228 Pages
    by Routledge

    Covering a wide variety of subjects and points of inquiry on women's sexuality, from genital anxieties about pubic hair to constructions of the body in the therapy room, this book offers a ground-breaking examination of women, sex, and madness, drawing from psychology, gender and sexuality studies, and cultural studies.

    Breanne Fahs argues that women’s sexuality embodies a permanent state of tension between cultural impulses of destruction and selfishness contrasted with the fundamental possibilities of subversiveness and joy. Emphasizing cultural, social, and personal narratives about sexuality, Fahs asks readers to imagine sex, bodies, and madness as intertwined, and to see these narratives as fluid, contested, and changing. With topics as diverse as anarchist visions of sexual freedom, sexualized emotion work, lesbian haunted houses, and the insidious workings of capitalism, Fahs conceptualizes sexuality as a force of regressive moral panics and profound inequalities—deployed in both blatant and more subtle ways onto the body—while also finding hope and resistance in the possibilities of sexuality.

    By integrating clinical case studies, cultural studies, qualitative interviews, and original essays, Fahs offers a provocative new vision for sexuality that fuses together social anxieties and cultural madness through a critical feminist psychological approach. Fahs provides an original and accessible volume for students and academics in psychology, gender and sexuality studies, and cultural studies.

    Introduction: mad women, precarity, and the possibilities of sex

    Part 1 Women explain things to me

    1 Men, through women’s eyes

    2 The other third shift? Women’s emotion work in their sexual relationships

    3 Slippery desire: women’s qualitative accounts of their vaginal lubrication and wetness

    Part 2 Veering and queering

    4 Killjoy’s Kastle and the hauntings of queer/lesbian feminism

    5 The politics of turning rape into “nonconsensual sex”

    6 Genital anxieties: using critical sexuality studies to examine women’s attitudes about the vulva and vagina

    Part 3 On the couch 

    7 Compulsory penetration? A sex therapy romp

    8 Are women people? The lusty and chaotic world of sex addiction

    9 Therapy without bodies, or why fleshiness matters

    Part 4 All riled up 

    10 Warning: capitalism is destroying our sex lives

    11 “Freedom to” and “freedom from”: a new vision for sex-positive politics

    12 Counter-erotics: sex as a form of resistance




    Breanne Fahs is Professor of Women and Gender Studies at Arizona State University, US, and a practicing Clinical Psychologist. Her previous books include: Performing Sex (2011), Valerie Solanas (2014), Out for Blood (2016), and Firebrand Feminism (2018).