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The social norm of women making themselves desirable has been widely documented. This article, based on 71 interviews with men and women between the ages of 20 and 84 on the subjects of contraception and sexuality, shows that the work done primarily by women on and for sexuality goes further than working on one’s body. Using contraception as a point of entry and focusing on both feminine and masculine variations of sexual desire (inside or outside the marital or couple framework), it shows that maintaining a representation of the sex act as “spontaneous” requires working on sexuality, work that may be done by men but is mainly done by women. On the one hand, this is material labor wherein women work in the “wings” leading up to sex to ensure that it can occur at any moment (work on physical appearance, timely use of contraception, preparation of “romantic” moments, etc.). On the other, women work on their emotions, both “on the surface” and “in depth,” to ensure their own sexual desire at the right moment and in response to their partner’s. This article contributes to descriptions of a gender order bolstered and naturalized by heterosexual sexuality.

  • Sexuality
  • Gender
  • Scripts
  • Desire
  • Spontaneity
Cécile Thomé
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Uploaded on on 30/11/-0001
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