Originally posted on Wellcome Trust Blog:
My academic research focuses on Female Sexual Dysfunction, an umbrella term for diagnostic categories in the American and Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), which has provoked much controversy. At stake in debates about Female Sexual Dysfunction are the questions of who can speak about female sexuality; what kind of language is appropriate to describing – and treating – problems relating to desire, arousal, orgasm, or pain; and, indeed, whether phenomena such as low desire or lack of orgasm are to be seen as medical problems in the first place.
The larger preoccupation that suffuses both this research and my book of literary non-fiction, Unmastered is how we talk, in the public realm about female sexuality – and with what effects. Unmastered is a lyrical and philosophical first-person narrative that uses my own experiences as a vehicle for exploring questions about desire, gender, power, and personhood. It celebrates pleasure and the erotic, while also pointing to – and seeking to resolve – the difficulty involved in speaking about desire as a woman.