"So When We Do Have a Say?" On Sexy Selfie Making as a Standpoint for Seen-ness

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As photography's technological advancement has afforded women greater self-representational opportunity and control, new discourses of concern have emerged over women who create sexy selfies. I argue that these discourses are, in part, mired in outdated notions of the heterosexual male gaze which figure sexy selfies to be a contemporary reflection of the ongoing dominance of male sexual desire over the passive and objectified female subject. Using data from a project which involved the photographic collaborations of a professional photographer (myself) and a number of sexy-selfie taking women, I propose to promote the concept of seen-ness as a counter to male-centered gaze discourses and ideals of 'proper' feminine/sexual presentation. Like theories on 'listening' to create a to-be-heard-ness, there is an ethical imperative for viewing/gazing to create a to-be-seen-ness. I will further argue that sexy selfies have brought objectification discourses to a critical juncture where relations of power between the looker and the looked-at are much less clear and in need of new frameworks for analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2222-2241
Number of pages20
JournalSexuality and Culture
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes


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