• Andrea Waling

New publication: Sex and sexual communication in #MeToo

I'm excited to announce a new publication from the Men, Sex and Intimacy study!


The paper, '“Pay close attention to what my eyes are saying without having to spell it out”: Heterosexual relations and discourses of sexual communication in #MeToo commentaries' has been published in the journal Sexualities.


Image source: by @rawpixel-com (freepik.com). Image description: Six different arms are holding up a pink sign '#MeToo' against a grey background.


What part of the project does it address?


This paper addresses the research aim of documenting public discourses concerning consent, men, and #metoo in the Men, Sex, and Intimacy study.


It also addresses the broader program of research key aim in exploring how expectations about cisgender, heterosexual men and their sexual practices are presented in contemporary media


What's it about?


This paper explores how concepts such as sex and sexual communication are discussed in #MeToo commentaries.


It conducted a feminist critical discourse analysis of over 163 traditional news, online magazine, and social news articles collected between October 2017 and June 2020 commenting on #MeToo, sexual communication, dating and heterosexual relations between men and women.


What did you find?


The findings of this analysis noted a number of interesting discourses.


The first, the ambiguity and contradictions of sexual communication expectations, where there is an overriding contradiction as to what is appropriate sexual communication.

is it too much to ask a man to pay close attention to what my eyes are saying without having to spell it out?

This is evident through opposing viewpoints regarding sexual communication (and sexual consent) needing to be direct and verbal on the one hand, and instinctual and non-verbal on the other.


The second, the overall uncertainty as to what exactly constitutes 'good' and 'bad' sex. This uncertainty is noted further within the inability to conceptualise sex that is situated between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad.’


a bit of mystery, collaboration, intuitiveness, innuendo and nuance. Otherwise it’s not seduction, it’s a business deal.

However, how 'good' and 'bad' sex can be achieved is much clearer, where 'good' sex is associated with love, connection, monogamous relationships and romance, while 'bad' sex is seen to be the result of hook-up culture.


men at all levels are very confused about how to behave in an age of promiscuous sexual morality and, to a certain extent, have simply lost the art of courtship.

Lastly, while many articles focus on the question as to whether or not women can be sexually empowered, their capacity for sexual desire is secondary, or not considered at all.


If I’m completely honest, risking shame for an affair feels more satisfying than claiming victimhood, because it lets me feel a measure of agency.

I conclude this paper with a reflection on how we can begin to think about sexual communication and sexual relations between cisgender, heterosexual men and women. I advocate for consideration of sex as messy, ambiguous and ambivalent as a starting point to begin to have more productive conversations about what we mean by effective, or 'good,' sexual communication and sexual practices. I argue that this can actually better support education around ways to navigate sexual situations.


Where can I read it?


This paper is available at Sexualities. Or please feel free to get in touch and we can send you a copy! A non-copyedited version can also be found here at the La Trobe Opal archives.


Citation

Waling, Andrea. (2022). “Pay close attention to what my eyes are saying without having to spell it out”: Heterosexual relations and discourses of sexual communication in #MeToo commentaries. Sexualities. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/13634607211060834