Callaghan, J., Tosh, J., Healicon, A., Burman, E. and Smith, L.-A. (2011) This post feminist moment? Theorising sex and sexual violence in an age of scepticism. Symposium presented to: 14th Biennial Conference of The International Society for Theoretical Psychology (ISTP 2011), Thessaloniki, Greece, 27 June - 01 July 2011.
Callaghan, J., Tosh, J., Healicon, A., Burman, E. and Smith, L.-A.
McRobbie (2009) has suggested that popular culture and consumerist socio-economic arrangements function in a manner that re-stabilises constructions of gender, and renders the articulation of a new feminist engagement an impossibility. In this symposium we take up the critique she offers of the ‘end of feminism’, and consider its implications for a theorisation of sex, sexual violence, aggression and submission within the contemporary cultural landscape. We explore the intersections of talk about sex and sexual violence with therapeutic, consumerist and post-feminist discourses, and within online and therapeutic spaces. Our symposium draws together accounts from therapeutic and online spaces to consider the continuities that exist between public representations of rape and sexual violence and the apparently private spaces of the therapeutic encounter. We consider how the lens of diagnostic categories like ‘Paraphilic Coercive Disorder’ or ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ functions to fix sex, rape and rape narratives in a particular way, and how these constraining constructions are taken up and resisted. We trouble the simple polarisation of consensual sex and rape, considering the implications of ideas of consent and ‘choice’ in relation to representations of sex and rape. We think through how varying representations of rape – as truth, memory, experience, as joke – function to open up or close down particular subject positions or particular ‘versions’ of rape and of survivor identities. We argue that feminist theory and feminist informed psychological work and critique must engage with the broadening range of discursive resources, spaces and practices within with talk about sexual violence is constituted, contested and resisted