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Critical Sexuality Methods: Feminist Perspectives on Knowledge Production & Health

Wednesday, January 4, 2012
12:00 AM
2239 Lane Hall

Sara McClelland, Ph.D. Post-Doctoral Scholar, Michigan Society of Fellows

Given that inadequate measurement of sexual health in research, medical, and educational settings can have profound ramifications, I propose a set of critical sexuality research methods. These aim to both use empirical strategies to collect data on people’s lives and to critically evaluate the process of knowledge production. Through an examination of three central concepts – sexual desire, sexual satisfaction, and sexual quality of life – I present a series of theoretical and methodological innovations which attend to social and political marginalization related to gender, age, illness, race/ethnicity, and sexual identity in shaping individuals’ expectations for and experiences of sexual health. I highlight two on-going research projects, concerning (1) sexual quality of life in women who have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, and (2) definitions of sexual satisfaction in heterosexual and LGBT young adults. Both studies engage the development of critical feminist methods to capture aspects of deservingness and expectations for sexual well-being.