Abjection, power, and reappropriation: the difficult conceptualisation of women’s sexual pain In France and England

Loret, H., 2022. Abjection, power, and reappropriation: the difficult conceptualisation of women’s sexual pain In France and England. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Women's sexual pain, understood as genital pain when penetrative sexual intercourse is attempted, is a 'common but neglected' issue (Mitchell et al., 2017, p.1), affecting women of all ages. Discourses around it can be complex, and include many sources, including medical, psychiatric, and healthcare communication (Basson et al., 2000), socio-political commentary, and studies on how this pain connects to perceptions of gender, as a problem which affects only women and people with vaginas and vulvas. Within complex healthcare structures in England and France, both of which comprise state-funded and private elements, the maintenance of the neglected status of women's sexual pain requires conceptualisations of it to operate in a specific way. It also requires individuals in these systems, and women accessing them, to participate in, reinforce, challenge, and resist the existing structural and individual power dynamics which construct these experiences. Accordingly, women's sexual pain is uniquely positioned as a lens through which to examine how these gendered experiences affect women unequally, and how the way that they are described and treated has profound consequences.

This thesis uses an innovative cross-national methodology, including data from bilingual semi-structured interviews, to show how certain women are disadvantaged by this pain more than others. Selected discourses of sexual pain, including healthcare guidelines and definitions, are consulted concurrently to form an impression of women's experiences within these complex structures. This research provides valuable insights into the experiences of women affected by sexual pain, and demonstrates their awareness of, and formidable challenges to, the systematic power imbalances which may marginalise them. It shows that there are healthcare professionals who embrace the activism of their work, striving to create a common, accessible, vocabulary of sexual pain which hears the unspeakable of pain and trauma, while respecting the power of silence. Though sexual pain experiences were often reported in these interviews as arduous and life-altering, this study reveals practices of resisting marginalising power dynamics, and of defying limiting, reductive conceptualisations of pain in both England and France.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Loret, H.
Date: March 2022
Rights: The copyright in this work is held by the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the author.
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 07 Mar 2023 10:52
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2023 10:52
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/48467

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