‘You do act differently when you're in it’: lingerie and femininity

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Wood, Rachel (2016)

This paper examines British women’s accounts of buying and wearing lingerie taken from in-depth interviews exploring experiences of shopping in sex shops. Lingerie forms one\ud part of a sexual consumer culture that is positioned within a neoliberal discourse of postfeminism. Women’s engagement with the representation of lingerie, the way they enact lingerie buying and wearing in their everyday lives and the ways they speak about these practices show complex and often incongruous strategies of accommodation and\ud negotiation. Such strategies can make lingerie pleasurable and liveable whilst at the same time expressing forms of anxiety, ambivalence or laughter directed towards the\ud performance of femininity and feminine sexuality required and represented by lingerie.\ud I contend that it is precisely through this often contradictory engagement with lingerie that\ud strategic counter discourses emerge, by which women can resist some of the respectable\ud norms of female sexuality. Women position themselves in ambivalent ways in relation to\ud the visual imperative of feminine sexuality represented by lingerie, particularly through an\ud embodied discourse of comfort and discomfort, or through the playful and pleasurable\ud performance of non-naturalised gender roles.
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