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A message from Dr. Maria Gurevich, SHiFT lab director:

Congratulations to Nicole Cormier, who successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, “Sexual Subversives or Lonely Losers? Discourses of Resistance and Containment in Women’s Use of Male Homoerotic Media.”

Nicole’s dissertation addressed a largely neglected area of research – women’s use of male homoerotic media. Her work examined the potential role of male homoerotic media – including gay pornography, slash fiction, and Yaoi – in facilitating women’s sexual desire, fantasy, and subjectivity, and the ways in which this expansion is circumscribed by dominant discourses regulating women’s gendered and sexual subjectivities. An in-depth analysis of online texts discussing women’s use of these media was conducted. The analysis explored what subject positions are (un)available to women who use these media. Using a Foucauldian, feminist poststructuralist discourse analytic framework, online editorial articles and internet forum discussions were explored using an immersion/crystallization approach, revealing three broad thematic queries posed by online interlocutors: a) whether women as a generalized category use male homoerotic media, b) establishing boundaries constructing and constraining a normative woman user, and c) interrogating why women are drawn to male homoeroticism. A variety of discourses were deployed pertaining to each of these themes, some of which served to align women’s use with dominant heterosexual, patriarchal, postfeminist, and neoliberal imperatives, while others subverted these imperatives and broadened the availability of sexual subjectivities for women. The tensions between these competing discourses mark male homoerotic media as a fertile site of resistance and expansion of sexual power and possibility for women.

Nicole has been a generative and creative researcher in the SHiFT Lab (Sexuality Hub: Integrating Feminist Theory) and extremely rewarding to mentor. She is currently an associate in private practice at London Psychological Services and plans to open her own private practice in British Columbia post-registration, while continuing to pursue her research interests.

The external examiner noted that “given the limited academic writing on this topic, and the detailed and thoughtful analysis undertaken, there is no doubt that this dissertation offers a substantial and insightful contribution to the field.”

Thank you to the diligent and incisive members of the doctoral examining committee: Dr. Tae Hart, Dr. Becky Choma, Dr. Kelly McShane (who generously and adroitly stepped in for Dr. Choma at the defense), Dr. May Friedman (School of Social Work, Ryerson), and the external examiner Dr. Hannah Frith (School of Applied Social Science, Centre for Transforming Sexuality and Gender, University of Brighton). We greatly appreciated their insightful questions and comments. Thanks are also extended to Dr. Cheryl Teelucksingh (Department of Sociology), who deftly chaired the defence.