Gender and Language, Vol 2, No 2 (2008)

The Construction of Female Sexuality in the ‘Sex Special’: Transgression or Containment?

Linda McLoughlin
Issued Date: 2 Jun 2008


This article examines two sex specials in British teenage girls’ magazines: Bliss and Sugar from a collection gathered during the period 1995 to 1998. The texts’ producers claim that the material relating to sex is transgressive and offers an emancipatory potential to young women. I argue that the texts, far from being emancipatory, act as regulatory mechanisms by constructing an ideal subject position which accords with the dominant heterosexist ideology. Critical discourse analysis reveals that the ideological messages permeating ‘sex specials’ are deeply rooted in cultural constructions of female sexuality which fail to equip young women for the pressures and complex situations they may face in contemporary society. Focus group discussions with the target readers revealed that the texts were not considered to be transgressive and that their usefulness was extremely limited.

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DOI: 10.1558/genl.v2i2.171


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