Christopher Sutch's Reviews > Sexual Citizenship: The Material Construction of Sexualities

Sexual Citizenship by David T. Evans
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M 50x66
's review
Jul 17, 2009

really liked it

This book (1993) is now nearly twenty years old and is mainly useful for historians of social trends: some things Evans talks about are still pressing issues in our culture today but the social formations undergirding the debate have shifted and, thus, some of what he talks about reads as remarkably out of date (for instance, he gives quite a bit of discussion to "cultural feminism" producing the dominant discourse on female sexuality, and gives Dworkin and Mackinnon a more significant place in feminist theory than they currently hold). This work does, however, show to good effect how Evans sees certain socioeconomic trends as influencing debates about sexualities in early 1990s-era Britain. I was somewhat disappointed, however, in his "materialist" philosophy in practice. While he quite rightly critiques Foucault's concepts of discursivity and power/knowledge as laid out by Foucault in _The History of Sexuality Volume I_ on the grounds that Foucault, for polemic reasons, overstates the dominance of discourse and the inability of agency within dominant discourses, Evans too readily conflates Foucault into "scripting" theory. He then uses "scripting" to discuss the central issues in his work while being rather light on the "material" side of the equation. Evans focuses too much on the power of consumption and the positive effects consumer markets have had on sexual "minorities," while ignoring sites of production and consumption: that is, while espousing Marxism, he too easily falls into the 1980s-1990s trap of reifying economic forces and their effects throughout the entire capitalist circuit so that he can focus on sites of consumption as foundations for "freedom" and "resistance" to dominant political discourses. Still, a good place to start a line of reasoning about sexualities in capitalism (Rosemary Hennessy does it a bit better about a decade later).

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