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Desires, expectations and the sexual practices of married and cohabiting heterosexual women

van Hooff, J (2015) Desires, expectations and the sexual practices of married and cohabiting heterosexual women. Sociological Research Online, 20 (4). ISSN 1360-7804

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Abstract

This article draws on qualitative interviews in order to analyse the ways in which heterosexual women reconcile their everyday lived sexual practices, expectations and desires. Focusing on the accounts of twenty women in long-term relationships, analysis suggests that the sexual practices of the women interviewed continue to be largely conducted within a dominant heteronormative framework. This runs contrary to claims about the democratisation or queering of sexual relations (Giddens 1992; Roseneil 2000). I argue that participants’ sexual desires and expectations are undermined by essentialist understandings of masculinity and femininity, with shifts in the outward forms of heterosexuality having a limited impact upon sexual practices which continue to be entrenched in heteronormative ideals.

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