In 2014 I completed my PhD in Gender Studies at Sussex University as part of the Cultural Studies Department. My thesis, Rethinking Misogyny: Men’s Perceptions of Female Power in Dating Relationships explores the role of men’s subjective accounts of female power in their interactions with the women they date, arguing that the academic traditions of Gender Studies and Masculinity Studies need to include such accounts when theorising sexual inequality.
Current debates around female power are restricted to female subjectivities, especially theoretical differences between second and third wave/post feminisms. My argument states we can no longer subsume men’s personal accounts of female power under (true) theories of macro gender inequalities, dismissing them as men’s mistaken perceptions. If men’s reality includes such perceptions, then their un/willingness to relinquish ‘more’ power needs to be understood if equality between the sexes is to be increased. How do we know if offensive male behaviour isn’t, for example, defensive behaviour in reaction to female power as perceived by men if Gender Studies continues to focus largely on the female side of perception? Foucault’s theory of power is very useful here because it understands power to be both vertical and horizontal. Ultimately I am questioning whether Hegemonic Masculinity Theory in its current form is adequate in explaining men and women’s interactions together on the micro level, which in turn ought to result in a revised understanding of power relations between the sexes on the macro level.
My research involved semi structured interviews with 10 sex workers to provide insights into their clients’ concerns about their dating lives, 10 pickup artists (men who attend classes to learn how to date women with more confidence) and 20 British heterosexual men aged 20 to 40, whom I questioned on their evaluation of whether women are powerful in the dating scene. I have applied discourse analysis to my interviews and found central themes, which frame the way men think about women’s power. I am interested particularly in how these men position themselves in relation to dominant discourses and how free they are in understanding female power in a context of masculine gender roles.
Subject areas of interest include:
Homosocial Behaviour, the gendered dating process, the power of female beauty, men’s sexual anxieties, fear of false rape accusations, ‘castration’ anxieties, media representations of female beauty and dating, men’s self body image, penis concerns, unwanted pregnancies and female aggression.
I am a peer reviewer for the academic journals Gender & Society and Porn Studies.