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Home arrow Psychology arrow The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Social Psychology
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Feminist, queer and critical social psychology scholars have led the way in criticising mainstream psychobiological accounts of sexuality. This critical work has become more important than ever as biologically determined accounts of sexual orientations and practices have made a popular comeback due to advances in neuroscience and its enthusiastic reporting by the mass media. Naturalising accounts of heterosexuality within (social) psychology and wider culture has been thoroughly questioned, as have constructions of homosexuality as deviant, and critical work seeks to explore sexed identities and relationships in diverse contexts. In recent years, explorations have focused on the subtle manipulation of feminism by the mass media, marketing and advertising industries, which have co-opted women’s desire for greater sexual expression and assertiveness as a way of mainstreaming hyper- sexualisation and pornography. Critical engagement with classic theories such as psychoanalysis and post-structuralism along with critical social psychology research (e.g. Jackson et. al., 2013 and Diamond et. al., 2011) seeks to challenge the increasingly subtle manipulation of sexed identities by producing sophisticated socially embedded understandings of heterosexual, gay, lesbian, trans and bisexual lives. Finally, on a personal note, the importance such theorising on sexuality was brought to life for me in a recent conversation with my 13-year-old son about how his peers talked about their own and others’ sexuality. It was heartening that they talked about multiple understandings of the ‘sexual self’, using a range of terms such as pansexuality, heterosexuality, skoliosexuality, homosexuality, genderqueer and neutrois, and whilst recognising that there is not absolute free choice, that sexual identity is much less rigid than in the ‘dark ages’ when I [MMcF] was growing up!!

 
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