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Sexual Subversives or Lonely Losers? Discourses of Resistance and Containment in Women's Use of Male Homoerotic Media

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posted on 2022-11-09, 16:52 authored by Nicole Susann Cormier
Very little academic work to date has investigated women’s use of male homoerotic media (for notable exceptions, see Marks, 1996; McCutcheon & Bishop, 2015; Neville, 2015; Ramsay, 2017; Salmon & Symons, 2004). The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the potential role of male homoerotic media, including gay pornography, slash fiction, and Yaoi, in facilitating women’s sexual desire, fantasy, and subjectivity – and the ways in which this expansion is circumscribed by dominant discourses regulating women’s gendered and sexual subjectivities. The dissertation begins with a review of the existing scholarship on women, pornography, and male homoerotic media, followed by an in-depth analysis of online texts discussing women’s use of these media. The analysis explores what subject positions are (un)available to women who use these media. Using a Foucauldian, feminist poststructuralist discourse analytic framework, online editorial articles and internet forum discussions were explored using an immersion/crystallization approach, revealing three broad thematic queries posed by online interlocutors: a) whether women as a generalized category use male homoerotic media, b) establishing boundaries constructing and constraining a normative woman user, and c) interrogating why women are drawn to male homoeroticism. A variety of discourses were deployed pertaining to each of these themes, some of which served to align women’s use with dominant heterosexual, patriarchal, postfeminist, and neoliberal imperatives, while others subverted these imperatives and broadened the availability of sexual subjectivities for women. The tensions between these competing discourses mark male homoerotic media as a fertile site of resistance and expansion of sexual power and possibility for women.





Doctor of Philosophy



Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type


Thesis Advisor

Maria Gurevich