Sexualization; Discourses on Gender and Heterosexuality in Cruel Intentions
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This thesis deals with the sexualization of a specific type of ‘good girl’ femininity as portrayed by the character Anette in the movie Cruel Intentions. Starting at the discourses of sexualization that have been taking shape since the 1980’s, I work towards a cohesive understanding of sexualization. This leads me to consider sexualization in a multitude of ways; as a process, a representational concept, and a theory. Thinking of sexualization as a theory, encoding the social world and creating meaning, it becomes a tool to address sexism. By focusing on adult femininity instead of Girls Studies, agency takes a central place in analyses of sexualization. Along with Saba Mahmood’s work on agency, Giddens’ Structuration Theory provides insight into the way agency and performances of gender and normative heterosexuality, that function as structures, converge. This is then applied to the characters Anette and Sebastian from the movie Cruel Intentions in the analysis. This analysis moves from the agency expressed by both Anette and Sebastian, to the ways gender and normative heterosexuality collide and influence their agency. Anette and Sebastian show a very specific dynamic between femininity and masculinity in their interactions throughout the movie. Finally, I look into the way sexualization discourse constantly recodes sexualization itself and the way this makes an analysis of sexualization an dual one, in which both the meanings encoded by sexualization and the recoding of sexualization itself are focal points. This then led to the conclusion that current dominant understandings of sexualization are limited in their engagement with agency.