‘Missing Persons’? Representations of Mature Female Sexuality in British and Irish Film 1998-2011

Liddy, Susan (2014) ‘Missing Persons’? Representations of Mature Female Sexuality in British and Irish Film 1998-2011. Postgraduate Journal of Women, Ageing and Media (1). ISSN 2055-737X

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Abstract

Research has indicated that a number of recent US films have challenged hegemonic definitions of mature women as asexual by validating the sexual pleasure and sexual agency of female characters over forty five years of age. This paper seeks to ascertain whether, and to what extent, this ideological shift is being replicated in British and Irish cinema. A content analysis establishes the number of British and Irish films, either domestic productions or co-productions, in which a mature female protagonist, or central character, is sexually active or demonstrates sexual desire. A thematic, qualitative analysis of the corpus suggests that, in accordance with research on US films, the narratives of a small number of British and Irish films do indeed offer mature female sexuality conditional support, within certain parameters. With one exception, narratives implicitly identify marriage or romantic love as the appropriate forum for a mature character to express her sexuality. Further, the representation of active female sexuality is quite restrained in the vast majority of such films; it is primarily confined to an on-screen kiss and the majority of simulated sexual activity occurs pre- or post-coitus. Even if mature female characters are depicted as sexually active, the mature female body usually remains strategically concealed. Finally, mature female characters are white, middle class, slim and able-bodied women.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Additional Information: Postgraduate Journal of Women Ageing and Media ISSN 2055-737X (Online) is published by the University of Gloucestershire. EDITORS: Josephine Dolan, University of the West of England Abigail Gardner, University of Gloucestershire Hannah Grist, University of Gloucestershire Ros Jennings, University of Gloucestershire Eva Krainitzki, University of Gloucestershire. © 2014 by Postgraduate Journal of Women, Ageing and Media. All Rights Reserved.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Women; Film; Sexuality; Ageing; Narratives; Representation
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2016 10:19
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2017 02:43
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/3918

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