Sex Objects and Sexy Subjects: A Feminist Reclamation of Sexiness

In Sherri Irvin (ed.), Body Aesthetics. Oxford University Press. pp. 299-317 (2016)
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Though feminists are correct to note that conventional standards of sexiness are oppressive, we argue that feminism should reclaim sexiness rather than reject it. We argue for an aesthetic and ethical practice of working to shift from conventional attributions of sexiness to respectful attributions, in which embodied sexual subjects are appreciated in their full individual magnificence. We argue that undertaking this practice is an ethical obligation, since it contributes to the full recognition of others’ humanity. We discuss the relationship of ethical to aesthetic considerations and argue that the respectful notion of sexiness is a genuinely aesthetic one, even though it does not involve assessment in relation to standards.

Author Profiles

Sherri Irvin
University of Oklahoma
Sheila Lintott
Bucknell University


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