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The confidence trick: Competing constructions of confidence and self-esteem in young Australian women's discussions of the sexualisation of culture

Thompson, L. and Donaghue, N. (2014) The confidence trick: Competing constructions of confidence and self-esteem in young Australian women's discussions of the sexualisation of culture. Women's Studies International Forum, 47 (A). pp. 23-35.

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Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2014.07.007
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Abstract

In recent years, an explicitly sexualised style of femininity has become associated with the idea that women choose to self-sexualise to signify their empowerment. But alongside these celebratory interpretations, self-sexualisation among young women has been subject to more patronising readings; in particular, the view that women are duped into engaging in thinly disguised sexual self-exploitation, to which they are made vulnerable by low self-esteem. This paper presents a discursive analysis of focus groups with seventeen Australian undergraduate women, in which they discussed young women's engagements with sexualised culture. Participants saw sexualised self-presentations as providing benefits to women, most notably enjoyment and heightened confidence. However, they viewed some self-sexualisation as being motivated by low self-esteem, engaging women in a downward spiral of objectification and decreasing self esteem. These competing constructions of self-sexualisation as both promoting and threatening confidence and self-esteem highlight how young women's engagement in sexualised culture is simultaneously open to empowering and disempowering readings

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: Elsevier
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/23571
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