Latex and Lingerie: Shopping for Pleasure at Ann Summers

Latex and Lingerie: Shopping for Pleasure at Ann Summers

Latex and Lingerie: Shopping for Pleasure at Ann Summers

Latex and Lingerie: Shopping for Pleasure at Ann Summers

Synopsis

Sexy, hedonistic, hilarious - Ann Summers parties are the ultimate girls' night in. Promising the perfect antidote to the toils of everyday life - sexual pleasure - they are the 'naughty but nice' version of the classic Tupperware¿ party.Ann Summers parties are incredibly popular, with around 4000 parties held in Britain every week. The basis is simple: to provide an all-female environment where women can buy sexy lingerie, erotic fashion, sex toys and other sex-related products. In many respects these parties enable women to transgress social taboos in the comfort of their own homes. But they are also a subtle means of constructing and enforcing heterosexual femininity.This book investigates what really goes on at these 'special' homosocial gatherings, where heterosexual women drink, laugh, shop, play party games and talk about sex. Storr develops a new analysis of the ways heterosexual women identify with and against each other - and of what this tells us about gender, sexuality and consumption in contemporary society. Drawing on both participant observation and in-depth interviews with party organizers, this fascinating and fun book is an indispensable guide to the politics of 'post-feminist' culture.

Excerpt

Join in the celebration and experience the Ultimate Girls Night In (Jacqueline Gold's introduction to the autumn & winter 1999 Ann Summers catalogue)

The world of Ann Summers parties is a women's world. Only women may attend parties; only women may become party organisers. It is also a profoundly heterosexual world, both literally (party organisers and party-goers are almost universally heterosexual) and culturally (the products, the parties and the party plan itself are all oriented around a heterosexual lifestyle). Ann Summers parties are presented as ‘the Ultimate Girls’ Night In' at which heterosexual women can buy products ‘that will make him succumb to temptation’ or ‘make any man purrrr!’ (autumn & winter 1999 catalogue descriptions of Tempt pvc top and Feline leopard-print chemise respectively).

In itself this is not particularly remarkable: there are many other settings similarly occupied by heterosexual women. These include paid work settings where heterosexual women work predominantly or entirely with other heterosexual women (such as might be the case for nurses, cleaners, secretaries or teachers) as well as leisure settings where heterosexual women socialise together. These leisure settings encompass specific environments, which may be as public as the local shopping mall or as private as each other's living rooms, as well as specific events such as the ‘girls' night out’.

Although a great deal of work in both sociology and cultural studies has considered women's work and leisure in considerable depth, little of this has paid sufficient attention to the simple observation that heterosexual women get together. the exception to this neglect is a significant (though relatively small) body of sociological research on women's friendships in work and leisure settings, including work which . . .

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