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A Desire to be 'Normal'? A Discursive and Intersectional Analysis of 'Penetration Disorder'

Intersectionalities: A Global Journal of Social Work Analysis, Research, Polity, and Practice (2016)

Dr. Jemma Tosh & Krista Carson

Psychiatry’s problematic framing of femininity, women’s bodies, and sexuality has attracted much condemnation (Caplan & Cosgrove, 2004; Frith, 2013; Ussher, 2011). The intersection of sanism and sexism is particularly overt in the psy-complex’s (Rose, 1979) response to violence. While psychiatry acknowledges that many of those diagnosed with ‘female sexual dysfunction’ have experienced sexual abuse, addressing the problems of violence against women is starkly absent within psychiatric discourse. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders combined ‘vaginismus’ and ‘dyspareunia’ to produce a new diagnostic classification: ‘genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder.’ The diagnostic criteria included difficulties, pain, or fear regarding penetrative heterosexual sex (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Using discourse analysis (Burman, 2004; Parker, 2013) and critical intersectional analysis (Cole, 2009; Crenshaw, 1991; Hill- Collins, 1998, 2003), this paper analyzes psychiatric discourse to illuminate the violence inherent in procedures and treatments that perpetuate sanism and (hetero)sexism within psychiatry. We argue that psychiatry’s positioning of penetrative heterosexual intercourse as ‘normal,’ necessary, and ‘healthy’ pathologizes experiences of sexual violence as well as other forms of sexual identity (e.g., asexuality and homosexuality). Psychiatry needs to promote and accept sexual diversity, including the choice not to have penetrative sex at all.

Celebrity 'Rape-Rape': An Analysis of Feminist and Media Definitions of Sexual Violence

Psychology of Women Section Review (2016) (now the Psychology of Women and Equalities Review)

Dr. Jemma Tosh

In 2009 a US based television programme, The View, discussed the arrest of film director Roman Polanski. Polanski was wanted for six outstanding charges related to the rape of Samantha Gailey in 1977. During this episode of the The View, Whoopi Goldberg made a controversial statement that Polanksi was not guilty of 'rape-rape'. This statement along with the long history of Polanski's avoidance of incarceration, illustrates the ongoing challenges for feminists to confront the trivialization of sexual coercion and violence. Goldberg's comments initiated an enthusiastic response on online forums and reinvigorated debates around definitions of rape. In this paper, I analyse online discussions on a feminist blog using discourse analysis (Parker, 2014) and the importance of considering the interrelated concepts of consent/non-consent, pleasure/distress and power in understanding the complexity and diversity of experiences of sexual violence.

Gender Violence

The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies (2016)

Dr. Jemma Tosh

Theories regarding gender violence have moved beyond a simple dichotomy, where women are positioned as victims and men are perpetrators. This complexity is through a nuanced analysis of privilege, power, and oppression, drawing on intersectionality theory, as well as problematizing the gender binary itself.

"Rape Me, I’m Irish": An Analysis of the Intersecting Discourses of Anti-Irish Racism and Sexual Violence

Intersectionalities: A Global Journal of Social Work Analysis, Research, Polity, and Practice (2015)

Dr. Jemma Tosh

Well documented experiences of the Irish diaspora in England include humiliation, discrimination, and higher rates of suicide and psychiatric intervention (Hickman, 2000). However, the construction of the Irish in relation to rape has rarely been considered, despite the longstanding history of the term being used as a metaphor in the context of colonization (Sharkey, 1994). This paper examines intersecting discourses around anti-Irish racism and sexual violence through a genealogical tracing of the concept of rape in relation to men, women, and the discursive category of “The Irish.” This historically situated, discourse analysis (Parker, 2003, 2014) includes contemporary material from microblogs (Java, Song, Finan, & Tseng, 2007). It reveals the construction of the Irish as passive recipients of sexual conquest (whether consensual or coercive) that implies sexual availability. Whether it is the popular “Kiss me I’m Irish” or the more aggressive “Rape me I’m Irish” “joke,” the conceptual Irish body is positioned as an object for others to act upon. This analysis exposes the myth of white homogeneity and the relative invisibility of anti-Irish racism, particularly when combined with other axes of oppression such as gender and class. For professionals working with victims of violence, the complex relationship between colonialism, sectarianism, and racism should be considered beyond visible differences and black–white dichotomies.

'Why Did I Spend Years Learning all that Rubbish, When I Could Have Been Doing This?' Student Experiences of Discourse Analysis and Feminist Research

Psychology of Women Section Review (2014) (now the Psychology of Women and Equalities Review)

Dr. Jemma Tosh, Amy Brodie, Emma Small, & Kerrie Sprigings

T-tests, correlations, objectivity, validity, reliability, control groups – typical contents of an accredited undergraduate psychology research methods module at university. Despite the popularity of qualitative methodologies within the profession (such as the success of the Qualitative Methods in Psychology Section), the predominant focus on statistical analysis and experimental design remains a barrier for students who wish to pursue qualitative research in their undergraduate dissertation (Harper et al. 2008; 2012). Upon asking students what method they would like to use and how confident they feel in applying it, a stream of uncertainty, anxiety, and confusion unfolds. Reflecting on the brief snippets of qualitative experience and research they have come across sporadically within a field that assumes a ‘norm’ of ‘hard science’ (Burman, 1997; Shaw, Dyson and Peel, 2008), students are left confused. How can I support a hypothesis by using an interview? How can I analyse a transcript without letting my bias make the results less valid? What is it that I am actually supposed to do? Current psychology training does not well prepare the student for such unhelpful answers as – ‘there is no hypothesis’ and ‘your “bias” (or subjectivity) is a key part of the research process that you should examine rather than deny’. So how do students experience this change in focus from statistics, significance, and hypotheses to social constructionism, discourse analysis and feminism? After years of being taught to be ‘objective’ how do they feel about becoming political in their study? 

The (In)Visibility of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Psychiatric Theorizing of Transgenderism and Intersexuality

Intersectionalities: A Global Journal of Social Work Analysis, Research, Polity, and Practice (2013)

Dr. Jemma Tosh

Psychiatric diagnoses related to transgenderism span a wide range of terms, theories, and treatments. Similarly, intersexuality is coming increasingly under the psychiatric gaze, being incorporated into the “gender dysphoria” criteria as with or without a “disorder of sex development” (APA, 2013). Despite the diagnostic link between these two groups, histories of childhood sexual abuse within psychiatric theorizing are particularly visible within “gender dysphoria,” but markedly invisible within medical discourse on “disorders of sex development.” While sexual abuse has been problematically argued by psychiatry to play a role in the development of gender dysphoria, the potentially abusive touching of intersex children’s bodies in distressing or painful ways is legitimized and standardized. Thus pathological accounts of transgenderism and intersexuality are given prominence, whereas non-consensual touching is marginalized. The focus in both accounts is the pathologized body, rather than the normalization of sexualized violence or the experience of such touching as non-consensual and abusive. Ultimately, such discourses function to detract attention from the sexualized violence experienced by those who do not fit into the societally imposed gender binary and continue psychiatry’s framing of gender nonconformity, rather than sexual violence, as pathological.

Women and Austerity: Beyond 'Make Do and Mend'

Psychology of Women Section Review (2013) (now the Psychology of Women and Equalities Review)

Dr. Jemma Tosh

This year the POWS conference examined women and austerity. It denaturalised austerity by highlighting that it is a discourse and a practice, and one that not everyone is subject to; the rich continue to get richer. Building on these discussions, Erica posed four questions for contributors to consider: - In what ways is austerity a psychological issue? - In what way is it a gender(ed) or feminist issue? - What might a POWS arena contribute to the analysis of austerity? - What might POWS do about current conditions of austerity?" Acknowledgements: This paper has recorded the discussion as closely to the participant’s original contributions as possible. Contributors to the roundtable: Erica Burman (Manchester Metropolitan University), Sharlene Hesse-Biber (Boston College), Suriya Nayak (University of Salford) and Liz Sayce (Disability Rights UK).

Feminist Sexology and Activism: Challenges to the Medicalisation of Sex

PsyPAG Quarterly (2012)

Dr. Jemma Tosh

Within a culture that is heavily dependent on psychological, psychiatric and medical concepts to explain the ‘human condition’ (Rose, 2006), it may be difficult to imagine what Tiefer (1996) describes as a ‘postmedicalisation’ era. ‘Medicalisation’ refers to the reconstruction of a concept specifically within medical terms (Conrad, 2004). For example, the range of physical and emotional experiences that can coincide with menstruation were reframed as ‘Premenstrual Tension’ (PMT) in 1931, then ‘Premenstrual Syndrome’ (PMS) (Ussher, 2003) before the pathologisation of ‘Late Luteal Phase Dysphoric Disorder (LLPDD) (Caplan, McCurdy-Myers & Gans, 1992) and the DSM-5 proposal for ‘Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder’ (PMDD) (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2011a). The application of biomedical understanding to sexuality brings with it ‘binarized thinking’ of healthy and unhealthy or normal and abnormal, “…that delimit the existence of alternative conceptualizations” (Potts, 2002, p.3). This categorization of sex is framed as scientific, objective and based on physiology. However, as Ussher (1997) argues, “…clear ideological judgments about ‘sex’ and the status of ‘woman’ and ‘man’ underpin these supposedly objective systems of classification” (p.265). The medicalisation of sex therefore, “…profoundly shapes the popular view of sexuality, despite a culture full of diverse sexual voices” (Tiefer, 2001, p.65). This ‘cacophony’ of sexual diversity (Plummer, 1995) gets overlooked due to the prominence of biomedical discourse (Potts, 2002; Tiefer, 2004; Ussher, 1997) that conveys sexuality as universal, innate and biological (Groneman, 2011). The medicalization of sex promotes, ‘…the illusion that sexual problems are medical problems’ (Szasz, 1991, p.34).

The Medicalisation of Rape: A Discursive Analysis of 'Paraphilic Coercive Disorder' and the Psychiatrization of Sexuality

Psychology of Women Review (2011) (now the Psychology of Women and Equalities Review)

Dr. Jemma Tosh

In 2010 the American Psychiatric Association (APA) proposed revisions for the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5). These revisions included criteria for ‘Paraphilic Coercive Disorder’ (PCD), which state that the individual ‘...has sought sexual stimulation from forcing sex on three or more non-consenting persons on separate occasions’ (APA, 2010). This proposed revision represents current attempts of psychiatry to medicalise ‘sadistic’ rape and normalise what the APA calls ‘opportunistic’ rape (APA, 2010). Rape has always been a feature of the DSM nomenclature in various forms, however, this particular diagnosis has continually been proposed since the 1980s and the DSM-III. Despite vigorous protests from feminists, LGBTQ communities and forensic psychologists from the 1980s onwards, the DSM Work Group continues to push for its inclusion. This calls into question those positioned on the DSM Task Force, the lack of transparency in their selection (e.g. Zucker, 2009) and their own controversial work and ‘treatments’ (e.g. Zucker, 2006). This paper uses discourse analysis (Parker, 1992) to critically interrogate the construction of rape as a mental disorder using online texts. The APA encouraged comments on the proposed revisions on its website, but these were not accessible and the DSM Task Force criticised negative comments made outside of the APA (e.g. Aboraya, 2010). Therefore, data was collected from online blogs and the DSM-5 website regarding this proposed disorder and then analysed.

How Does The Sun Newspaper Portray Rape?

QMiP Newsletter (2009) (now the Qualitative Methods in Psychology Bulletin)

Dr. Jemma Tosh & Dr. Jeremy Phillips

The Sun newspaper is the most popular newspaper in Britain (Reading of national daily newspapers: social trends, 2002; National Readership Survey for Oct 2007 - Sept 2008). It is well known for its sensationalised approach of reporting, but due to the stories being classed as ‘news’ the fundamental details are assumed to be true/accurate (Alexander, 1999). However, the media is known for its misrepresentation of reality, such as over representing stranger rapes of white middle class victims (Carter, 1998, cited in Korn & Efrat, 2004; Brownmiller, 1975; Ardovini-Brooker & Caringella-MacDonald, 2002). Therefore even these assumed details can paint a very distorted picture (Korn & Efrat, 2004). 

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