The rough guide to love: Romance, history, and sexualisation in gendered relationship advice

Amy Burge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Sexualisation is changing the way we think about romantic love. According to recent research, young people are increasingly confronted by narrowing ideals of sexual attractiveness making romantic intimacy increasingly difficult (American Psychological Association, 2007) forcing a choice between “raunch or romance” (Bale, 2011). This article investigates the alleged distinction between romance and sexualisation, in the process challenging claims that the current crisis of sexualisation is a product of societal change in late modernity.

Responding to a call to consider sexualisation from a hitherto neglected historical perspective (Egan and Hawkes, 2012), the paper employs critical discourse analysis to identify the formation of gendered meanings and practices in How the Good Wife Taught Her Daughter, a late medieval advice text for young women, and twenty-first century advice from the MyBliss website. Focusing on sexualised clothing, contact with others, reputation, and social status, the paper argues that in both medieval and modern advice, discourses of romantic love and sexualisation are mutually dependent. In addition, similarities between medieval and modern advice reveal that our current sexualisation crisis is not solely a product of modern life, but is part of a longer pattern of gender normativity and inequality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Early online date13 Feb 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Feb 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • sexualisation
  • class
  • romantic love
  • critical discourse analysis
  • gender
  • historicisation


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