Wednesday 7th December 2016
Social Sciences Building 12.21/25
Real meals: radical diets, science and the masculinisation of weight loss
In recent year, anxieties around obesity have shifted away from the familiar bête noir of fat towards sugar. Sugar – or what paediatric endocrinologist and anti-sugar popular science writer, Robert Lustig, calls the “Voldemort of the diet hit list” – is now widely treated as a primary cause of obesity, and it has also been closely linked to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and tooth decay, prompting the declaration at the level of international health policy of a ‘war on sugar’. The rush to denounce sugar has facilitated a flourishing array of radical exclusionary diets to which the elimination of sugar (variously conceived) is central. This includes both a variety of low-carbohydrate diets, which are heavily reliant on animal protein and fat, and plant-based diets that shun animal products. However, in spite of their divergent philosophies and practices, these plans share considerable common ground, particularly in their antipathy to mainstream dietary advice and in relation to the ways in which they mobilise nutritional science to support their positions. Furthermore, both dietary approaches make strategic use of similarly normative models of athletic masculinity as a primary means of recruitment and justification, to the exclusion (and sometimes derision) of the women who are the primary targets and users of the weight loss industry. Using the low-carbohydrate plan, The Real Meal Revolution, and the vegan weight loss plan, Forks Over Knives, as examples, this paper explores the ways in which the rush to sugar as the primary enemy in the ‘war on obesity’ impacts upon our understandings of the fat body, and investigates the ways in which these apparently irreconcilable dietary prescriptions find common ground in their appeals to ‘heretic’ science and to athletic masculinity. I argue that this analysis positions the rise of anti-sugar policy and practice not simply as a new departure, but also as a retrenchment of highly individualised gendered (and racialised) understandings about what constitutes the good body in contemporary society.
This entry was posted in News.
by Olivia Morris (MA Gender Studies)
Women’s sport is massively underreported in national print press, and the percentage of female writers publishing articles on sport is even lower. I wrote a match report on the England V New Zealand rugby game played on Saturday 19th November at Harlequins Stoop for Kettle. The aim of the article is to provide a detailed report of the game as well as an insight into my experience of attending it.
As a rugby player myself, I find it frustrating that men’s rugby is defined as just ‘rugby’ whereas female teams are always ‘women’s rugby’ e.g. England Rugby and England Women’s Rugby (as is with most sports). Instead, I have titled the two teams either by their country or how they are better known in the rugby world as the “Red Roses” (England) and the “Black Ferns” (New Zealand).
You can read the full match report here:
This entry was posted in Blog.
CIGS now has a blog page! We will be adding new posts about the research being undertaken by CIGS staff and PhD students.
This entry was posted in Blog.
Date: 28 January 2015, 5.00pm
Location: Room 12.21 and 12.25 Social Sciences Building
Gay pornography, either in print or onscreen, remains a controversial as well as a significantly under-researched area of cultural production. It is a complicated and often contradictory genre that exploits, subverts, celebrates, plays with and calls into question the ways in which masculinity is constructed and what contemporary masculinity might mean. Given that the internet has resulted in an exponential growth in the sheer volume as well as the range of gay porn available to audiences and greatly enhanced access to this material, the need for a sustained exploration of gay pornography and its modes of representation becomes ever more pressing. With this in mind I am now writing a book that explores and situates the rhetorical strategies and iconography of contemporary gay pornography and discusses the paradigm of masculinities that it presents. This presentation will discuss the challenges that studying gay pornography presents for researchers in British universities and will identify some of the issues that all researchers in the field have to consider.
My work in the field over the last 15 years has aimed to illustrate that gay pornography offers plural models of masculinity that are more various and nuanced than they might seem. I argue that gay porn illustrates a contemporary ‘saturated’ masculinity. Ranging from an analysis of ‘mainstream’ gay pornography to the marginal, from glossy professionalism to the artisanal and amateur, the paradox that lies at the heart of gay porn is that it is at points both subversive and normative; undermining orthodoxies of masculine representation at the same time as producing new norms of gay sexual conduct and sexual performance.
John Mercer is Reader in Gender and Sexuality at the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research. He is the leader of the Screen Cultures research cluster and runs the MA in Screen Studies.
His research interests include film and television genres, celebrity and stardom, the pornography debate, the sexualisation of contemporary media culture and contemporary cultural theory. He is the author (with Martin Shingler) of Melodrama: Genre Style Sensibility and a monograph on Rock Hudson due to be published by the BFI in 2015. John is co-editor of the Journal of Gender Studies, one of the editorial founders of Porn Studies and reviews editor for this new journal. He is also a member of the editorial board of Cine-Excess (and the guest editor of the inaugural issue), editorial board member of Sexualities and is a peer reviewer and guest editor for Celebrity Studies.
Date: 03 December 2014, 5.00pm
Location: Room 12.21 and 12.25 Social Sciences Building
This paper presents a case-study exploration of Christianity and sexuality in the lives of young lesbians in the UK, drawing upon a larger ESRC funded grant ‘Making Space for Queer Identifying Religious Youth’. Religion matters as a personal and political force, but secularizing trends arguably obscure its influence on the complex convergence and intersection of personal, political, familial, and institutional realms (Brierley, 2006; Heelas and Woodhead, 2005).
While the question of homosexuality has been a central focus in much discussion, highlighting around the presumed discontinuity between sexual identity and Christian identity (O’Brien, 2004), there is still a gap in terms of locating first-hand narratives of self-identified young queer Christians. Rather than assuming that these are separate and divergent paths (Wilcox, 2000), this paper explores intersectional convergences and divergences, illustrating how religious participation can convey (de)legitimation within family, community and society. Such (de)legitimation is revealed in unpacking scripts of inclusion and exclusion (Taylor and Snowdon, 2014), which are (re)circulated via hetero-homo normative ideals, and perpetuated and contested in the context of intersectional Equalities legislation.
Here, I examine the highly gendered and heteronormative ‘role models’, ‘mentors’ and (familial) mediations experienced by young lesbian Christians, as intersecting public–private domains in the production of queer religious subjectivity and dis-identification.
Thursday October 30th 2014, 4.00-6.00pm
Bowland North, Seminar Room 10, Lancaster University
Public Lecture by Prof. Rosalind Gill: ‘Love Your Body and Hate It’
Roundtable discussion with Prof. Gill, Dr Celia Roberts, Dr Debra Ferreday and Dr Imogen Tyler: ‘Young Women and Body Image in Neoliberal Times’
For more details, see the event page on the sexgen website
This entry was posted in Events, sexgen Seminar Series.
Date: 15 October 2014, 4.00pm
Location: Room 12.25, Social Sciences Building
Using a rich palette of qualitative methods and a large scale online survey, the Enduring Love? project has been studying how couples experience, understand and sustain long-term relationships in contemporary Britain, paying particular attention to the ways in which gender, parenthood and generation shape experience.
In this presentation, I will explore the relationship work that couples do and how this serves to sustain their long-term relationships. Relationship work here is more than the drudgeries of domesticity. It offers couples the opportunity to embrace their relationship – through the pleasures of physical closeness; and to nurture their relationship – emotionally, practically, and symbolically through practices of togetherness which carve out shared time and create couple memories.
Focusing attention on the everyday practices that couples do and the material conditions which shape these personal lives, our conceptualisation of relationship work thus inculcates ideas of work and capital whilst keeping a keen eye on the intensity of emotions. Across the dataset, it was the personal meanings of relationship work that were valued more than their cultural reference points. Commercialised celebrations like Valentine’s Day or grandiose romantic displays from Interflora and/or the ‘guilty’ petrol station bunch of flowers were less fondly received than small acts of kindness. Knowing gestures and familiar relationship practices demonstrated intimate depth of understanding and investment in the long-term couple relationship.
Date: 14 February 2014, 5.30pm
Location: Mine, Leeds University Union
Bird la Bird straddles comedy and performance art, exploring couple culture, austerity, adoption, terrorism, Catholicism, class, feminism and queer femininity.
£2.00 in advance from leedstickets.com and on the door. Wheelchair access
This entry was posted in Events.
Date: 14 May 2014, 5.30pm
Location: The Great Woodhouse room, University House
Derived from her new forthcoming monograph, Affective Politics: States of Debility and Capacity, which takes up questions of disability in the context of theories of bodily assemblages and affectivity that trouble intersectional identity frames, this talk elaborates an ethos of conviviality.
Conviviality is an anti-reproductive challenge to biopolitics that seeks to dissassemble the relations between capacitated and debilitated bodies, arguing for more porous corporeal and political engagements within and across geopolitical spaces wrought through notions of the impersonal and futurity.
This entry was posted in CIGS Annual Lecture, Events.
Date: 26 February 2014, 5.00pm
Location: Seminar Room, Beech Grove House
In this interactive talk, Professor Catherine Roach presents a chapter from her forthcoming book Happily Ever After: The Romance Narrative in Popular Culture. This romance narrative is perhaps the most powerful and omnipresent narrative in modern Western culture and functions, indeed, as an imperative for how to live the good life: Find your one true love and live happily ever after. She introduces the parameters of her project as a performative ethnography in which she writes, as an academic, about how this romance narrative functions while she also writes, as a delighted newbie novelist, works of mainstream romantic fiction.
For this seminar, she tries to unravel the “conundrum of erotic love” in terms of notions of freedom and bondage, examining this conundrum in high art literature but focusing particularly on the top-publishing genre of popular romantic fiction. The African-American romance novel Indigo provides a framework for this discussion: Can you become a slave for love? What makes romance empowering, feminist, and freeing? What does it mean for a man to be “pussy-whipped” by love? How do today’s romantic novels constitute a massive cultural fantasy space—largely gendered—for the exploration of these questions?