20th Feb

Research Updates

Paul McConnell research introduction

Rachel Wood“You sit differently, you do act differently when you’re in it”: Women’s Experiences of Buying and Wearing Lingerie

This paper will provide an analysis of material from qualitative interviews with women about their engagement with sex shops and the products they sell, in particular the forms of pleasure and anxiety associated with buying and wearing lingerie. Women’s negotiations with sexualised consumerism are often ambivalent and complex in a postfeminist culture (Evans et al., 2010). The women I have interviewed express a number of often contradictory views in relation to purchasing and using lingerie.

Lingerie, as a form of improving or perfecting the visual appearance of the body, is met with ambivalence, proving to be a potential source of pleasure and excitement at the same time as causing anxiety and discomfort. These contradictory feelings demonstrate the impossibility of achieving a perfect feminine self through consumption, but also show how women are critical and far from passive in the face of neo-liberal and postfeminist sexual culture

Maki Iseri – Flexible Femininities?: Japanese Gilrs’ Culture and Neoliberalism/Neonationalism

Since the 1990s, gender crossing figures as visible signifier of queerness have been a prominent part of queer activism/studies. Meanwhile, feminine gender expressions played by female subjects have often regarded as showing ‘straight’, coherent (and thus ‘false’) identity, and their queerness has remained invisible. In recent popular girls’ culture in Japan, however, their femininities are made visible and represented as performance which can be flexibly acted out. While this trend seems to make femininity as visible performance, the female-female impersonation is in danger of being appropriated by the flexible logic of neoliberalism and normalized into nationalistic discourses that re-evaluate girls’ culture as ‘kawaii’ products, one of the unique culture Japan should proud of.
This paper will investigate the cultural practice of female-female impersonation based on the criticism on the complicity between (bodily) flexibility and neoliberalism/neonationnlism.

The following notes will give a general impression of the research introductions.  They are taken from one person’s notes in the seminar so they are not a full representation of what was said.  To find out more, please get in touch with the researcher whose work is described – they will be more than happy to fill in the gaps!

Rachel Wood: “You sit differently, you do act differently when you’re in it”: Women’s Experiences of Buying and Wearing Lingerie

Presenting her current research, focusing on responses from 8 participants across the 20-55 age range and looking in particular about how women buy, wear and feel about lingerie.

What is lingerie? Adverts, shop context, when and where it will be worn all influence respondents answers

Visual representations of women in lingerie emerge as hugely influential aspect of women’s relationships to lingerie. How is the gap between expectation and reality of wearing lingerie experienced by women?  There are opportunities for resistance in experiencing the wearing of lingerie.

Many respondents described wearing lingerie, and the lingerie itself as ‘nice’. What does the repeated use of nice mean?  Fetish, burlesque and BDSM practices complicate

Wearing lingerie is body work, much effort goes into disguising that work and creating a seamless/effortless sexuality.  Plafullness is a key way in which lingerie is experienced.  (Dis)Comfort is another key way in which embodied experience of wearing lingerie is figured; are narratives of discomfort a way women express resistance to certain ideals?

Paul McConnell: Research Introduction

How is creative computing changing, in particular with the emergence of open source software?  Questioning the future for software as more users are willing to ‘look under the hood’ and edit small bits of code to tailor programmes to their needs; will software stop being sold as finished packages and start being something you borrow, edit, and return?

Rethinking software as not neutral, but affective subjectivity and created through subjective experiences.  Objects contain histories, they embody people, if we apply this idea to software – software as an object – what does it mean for the social experience of a piece of software?

Current practice currently focused on what is produced when software is forced to perform outside of its usual function, such as forcing photoshop to repeat an action 500 times.

Maki Iseri: Flexible Femininities?: Japanese Girls’ Culture and Neoliberalism/Neonationalism

In Japan, ‘Gyaru’ offers the possibility of queer femininity; a female impersonation by women.  Previously regarded within Japanese culture as immature and hypersexual.  From this movement Yamamba emerged, again they were described in the mainstream as being corrupt and deviant as a result of the highly visible, deviant way in which they rejected the female gendered expected of them.

Oriental gaze of America and the West at large began to idealise Kawaii culture as a result, domestic media began to value Gyaru as uniquely and originally Japanese and ‘reimported’ it to Japan.  The flexibility of the culture, in particular, was praised.

The theatricality, purposely artificial and unnatural performances of Kawaii and the refusal of the male gaze of Yamamba, all seen as unique and flexible; but at what point do these images become/stop being those of flexibility?

Flexibility as a double edged sword; the impermanence in many social realms for Japanese women is negative but that same impermanence is praised within this culture.  Flexible bodies both consume the images of otherness in their production but also are offered up to be consumed.