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"I'd be just as happy with a cup of tea": Women's accounts of sex and affection in long-term heterosexual relationships

Hayfield, Nikki; Clarke, Victoria


Nikki Hayfield
Associate Head of Department in Research and Knowledge Exchange

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Dr Victoria Clarke
Associate Professor in Qualitative & Critical Psychology


This article reports a feminist analysis of interview data with 10 British women, in which they discuss sex and affection in their heterosexual relationships. We explore the popular cultural notion that women lack sexual desire and are more concerned with love and affection. Feminist research has highlighted how in mainstream cultural discourses, men's sexuality has been positioned as superior to women's. Women's (lack of) desire is viewed as problematic and men's (active) 'need' for sex contrasts sharply with the construction of women as (passive) recipients of men's desire. The women in this research reported a lack of sexual desire, but positioned themselves as wanting to want sex, or 'desiring desire'. They expected penis-in-vagina intercourse to be an inherent part of (hetero)sex, and some participated in unwanted (consensual) sex in order to satisfy what they perceived as men's inherent 'need' for sex. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for feminist research and practice. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Hayfield, N., & Clarke, V. (2012). "I'd be just as happy with a cup of tea": Women's accounts of sex and affection in long-term heterosexual relationships. Women's Studies International Forum, 35(2), 67-74.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Mar 1, 2012
Deposit Date Feb 20, 2012
Journal Women's Studies International Forum
Print ISSN 0277-5395
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 2
Pages 67-74
Keywords coital imperative, sexual desire, (hetero)sex, heterosexuality, sexuality research, thematic analysis
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Women's Studies International Forum. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Women's Studies International Forum, 35, 2,(2012) DOI: 10.1016/j.wsif.2012.01.003


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