Sexualization: A state of injury

Robbie Duschinsky

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    I shall contend that avowedly feminist media and policy discussions of “sexualization” in the UK have risked inadvertently problematizing not sexism but propriety. As a result, these discourses on sexualization have contributed to what Wendy Brown has called a “state of injury”: a situation in which representations of wound or threat are mobilized within identity politics on behalf of a dominated group in society, and this strategy backfires by supporting social and state institutions in regulating and normalizing precisely this very group. Rather than challenging the sexist division of unmarried women into pure and impure, innocent children and whores, I shall show, using the Papadopoulos Review, that feminist discourses on “sexualization” have risked tacitly affirming this division, situating the sexuality and desires of young women as deviations from their true essence. Moreover, a further unintended consequence has been to provide support to a neo-liberal political agenda in the UK, which contrasts the innocence that should be the property of unsexualized girls with the self-reliance that should characterize adult citizens and can only be hindered by welfare state protections.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)351-370
    JournalTheory & Psychology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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