Sex as work? Theorising unwanted sex in stable heterosexual relationships

Weiss, C 2016, 'Sex as work? Theorising unwanted sex in stable heterosexual relationships', in M. Chou (ed.) Proceedings of the 2016 Annual Conference of the Australian Sociological Association (TASA), Melbourne, Australia, 28 November - 1 December 2016, pp. 340-346.


Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: Conference Papers

Title Sex as work? Theorising unwanted sex in stable heterosexual relationships
Author(s) Weiss, C
Year 2016
Conference name TASA 2016: Cities and Successful Societies
Conference location Melbourne, Australia
Conference dates 28 November - 1 December 2016
Proceedings title Proceedings of the 2016 Annual Conference of the Australian Sociological Association (TASA)
Editor(s) M. Chou
Publisher Australian Catholic University
Place of publication Melbourne, Australia
Start page 340
End page 346
Total pages 7
Abstract The idea that sex is a form of work has been widely examined in the context of prostitution, but much less so in the context of unwanted sex imposed on women in stable heterosexual relationships. This is in spite of periodic feminist characterisations of unwanted sex in stable heterosexual relationships as a form of work. I critically examine this notion through a consideration of the work of Christine Delphy and Diana Leonard, who portray "sexual work" as part of housework performed by women in marriage. Subsequently, I illuminate the potential problems with this argument through the extension of Carole Pateman's work on marriage and prostitution to the issue of unwanted sex. Finally, I point to an alternative analysis compatible with Pateman's work in the writings of Colette Guillaumin, whose concept of sexage allows an understanding of unwanted sex as part of the individual and collective appropriation of women. This paper makes a contribution to the literature on partner rape and intimate partner violence, areas of relative neglect in feminist sociological theorising.
Subjects Feminist Theory
Copyright notice © TASA 2016
ISBN 9780646964805
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