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Title: Navigating an uneven power field : interpreting the oral histories of women who posed for 'Playboy' magazine in the second half of the Twentieth Century
Author: Van Bavel, Marjolein
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 9483
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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Since the 1980s, there have been myriad debates, both inside and outside of academia, on whether the ‘boom’ in representations of sexualised nudity in the wake of the so-­‐called sexual revolution should be understood as a force of progress and sexual liberation, or as a form of continued repression and exploitation of women. Although these debates often focus upon female nude models, framing them either as sexually liberated women or victims, the voices of the women central to these debates remain largely unheard. This new study interrogates the oral histories of ten women who appeared in the North-­‐ American magazine Playboy between the late 1950s and the early 1990s. Their accounts make it clear that scholars have to transcend the dyadic opposition between victimhood and free agency in regard to representations of sexualised nudity and nude modelling. Moreover, by untangling the complex workings of the power dynamics within the field of nude modelling and the interviewees’ attempts at navigating this field, it examines the contours of power, inequality and conflict in the social reality of posing nude within a market of sexualised nudity, all the while taking into consideration instances of agency and resistance. By investigating the experiences of female nude models, this study offers a unique perspective on the post-­‐1960s ‘boom’ in the commercialisation of sex. Its results support the understanding that the history of sexuality has to be investigated as an entangled history of class difference and power dynamics along the hierarchical male/female divide of a still unequal gender order. A change of perspective in law concerning the choices, rights and problems of models in the business of female nude modelling will be only a first, but necessary step of improvement in the navigation of a complex and uneven power field.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available