School of Culture and Communication - Research Publications

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    Sensing the pandemic: revealing and re-ordering the senses
    Tullett, W ; McCann, H (ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2022-05-05)
    This article reviews an assembled archive of the literature published to date on the sensory dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as sensory scholars have often highlighted periods of sensory revolution, we find that the recent pandemic has augured some notable shifts, albeit often on the more micro and domestic scale. We present a five-sense sensorium that offers an overview of how the senses have been engaged with by scholars during the pandemic, and what the major issues and themes have been. Drawing on the literature, we suggest that there have been shifts in our sensate experiences and an increased awareness of the sensory dimensions of daily life that may usually go unnoticed. However, we also note the many sensory-related inequalities have been revealed over this period, which continue to unfold unevenly as the pandemic continues. We argue that going forward sensory scholars ought to attend to these questions of inequality, as well as tracking the possible undoing of some of the sensory revolutions that may have taken place so far.
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    ‘Helps me feel more like myself’: navigating bodies, emotions and identity in Australian queer salons
    McCann, H (Routledge, 2022)
    While hair and beauty salons are often thought of as spaces that reproduce normative ideals of gender and sexuality, the past decade has seen an increase in salons catering specifically to LGBTQ+ clientele. More broadly, research has shown that far from only treating ‘surface’ concerns, salons in general are sites of intensified affect, making them a unique space of entangled body, emotional, and identity work. This article draws on interviews with salon workers from 2017 and client responses to a survey about salons during COVID-19 from 2020, conducted in Australia. This article gives particular focus to salons catering to the LGBTQ+ community (‘queer salons’), as well as data from salon clients that identify as LGBTQ+. Drawing on this dataset this article offers insight into how queer salons challenge our expectations of what hair and beauty salons can do for queer precarity in terms of physical, emotional and identity vulnerability and trouble ideas of the salon as a space which merely reinforces normative ideals of beauty. Furthermore, this article considers how salons might provide a sense of safety and belonging for some LGBTQ+ people, especially within the context of a pandemic.
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    Navigating “Normativity”: Kinship and Biphobia in Times of Crisis
    McCann, H (University of California Press, 2022-04-01)
    As COVID-19 began to unfold, I found myself confronted with a second predicament: an identity crisis. After nearly a decade of dating queer-identifying people entered a partnership with an ostensibly straight cisgender man. Up to this moment I had thought of myself as loosely affiliated with the label of “bisexual”, but I often used the term “queer” as a way to signal my disinterest in occupying normative space. I also (regrettably) felt that this term distanced myself from my socially disparaged bisexual kin. ii Yet, as a cisgender woman dating a cisgender man, a seemingly “normative” partnership was precisely the location I began to occupy at the beginning of 2020. The wider context of the pandemic forced a shrinking of worlds and a return to the domestic. Local lockdowns escalated a sense of urgency around clarifying intimate personal networks. As such, the crisis context forced to me confront my internal battle around identity and normativity in a shrunken and hyper-domestic sphere. I wondered, with my so-called “opposite sex” partner staying with me in lockdown, was I suddenly living a heteronormative life? Where does bisexuality fit in to this question of normative sexual formations and partnerships? More generally, I wondered to what extent interpersonal arrangements that provide safety, security and comfort in times of crisis always align with the “normative”.
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    The Refusal to Refuse: Bisexuality Trouble and the Hegemony of Monosexuality
    McCann, H (ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2022-02-21)
    This paper both revisits and productively draws on Judith Butler’s theory of sexuality offered in Gender Trouble, to consider how this foundational queer theory text inadvertently works to contain and bracket plurisexualities such as bisexuality. I consider how Butler at once rejects the idea of originary bisexuality provoked by psychoanalytic discourse on polymorphous perversity yet subsumes bisexual oppression into that of homosexuality. I interrogate Butler’s monosexual presumptions to extend their notion of the heterosexual matrix to account for an operational hetero/homo binary that both excludes plurisexuality as its Other and obscures this exclusion. Following this theoretical line, I consider how the asymmetric hetero/homo binary has been coded along the lines of comedy/tragedy in culture, and in contrast how bisexuality and other plurisexualities are often rendered impossible. I suggest that plurisexualities, representing a refusal to refuse the originary prohibition, “haunt” both straight and queer contexts alike.
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    Addressing the silence: Utilising salon workers to respond to family violence
    McCann, H ; Myers, K (SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2021-08-07)
    Community programs designed to train salon workers to address the issue of family violence are becoming increasingly commonplace. This article draws on interviews with trainees of one such program called HaiR-3Rs, run by the Eastern Domestic Violence Service (EDVOS) and launched in January 2018 in Victoria, Australia. HaiR-3Rs trains salon workers in recognising, responding to, and referring clients experiencing family violence. Using data collected from qualitative interviews this article reflects on trainee experiences of the HaiR-3Rs program. This article offers insights into whether training salon workers to respond to the issue of family violence places an additional burden of expectation on workers, as well as practical issues and limits of the training. The results of this study suggest that programs like HaiR-3Rs tap into deeper issues about the emotional nature of salon work, and has implications for the hair and beauty industry more broadly.
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    Is there anything "toxic" about femininity? The rigid femininities that keep us locked in
    McCann, H (Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2020-07-05)
    In recent years there has been rising popular discourse around ‘toxic masculinity’, and the problems of a hegemonic gender structure that facilitates male violence and misogyny. In the public debate over whether toxic masculinity is fact or fiction, ‘toxic femininity’ is often raised by men’s rights activists and others as an anti-feminist retort, to suggest that women can be ‘toxic’ too. This paper provides a sketch of how the term has been used so far, in tandem with an overview of the limitations of the more extensively discussed idea of ‘toxic masculinity’. This paper suggests that rather than deploying ‘toxic femininity’, it is more useful to consider what might be ‘toxic’ about some approaches to femininity. Drawing on existing theories of femininity, including emphasised, hegemonic, normative, patriarchal femininity, pariah femininities, and femmephobia, this paper offers the notion of ‘rigid femininities’ to explain the structures that keep us locked into a ‘toxic’ gender system. This paper utilises the term toxic femininity as a jumping-off point for theorising femininity broadly. In theorising femininity, this paper offers a conceptualisation of the ‘toxic’ attachments that reinforce the gendered power structure/essentialized gender.
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    Splitting from Halley: Doing Justice to Race, Unwantedness, and Testimony in Campus Sexual Assault
    Kennedy, R ; McCann, H (UNIV CHICAGO PRESS, 2020-09-01)
    This article takes the documentary film The Hunting Ground, and the controversy it provoked, as a starting point for interrogating approaches to the representation and regulation of sexual assault on campus. We focus on the work of critical legal theorist Janet Halley, who has been a leading and contentious figure in advocating against the film and for a reconsideration of how Title IX is implemented on university campuses. In 2015, nineteen Harvard law professors, for whom Halley was the spokesperson, issued a press release objecting to the Hunting Ground for misrepresenting the case of one of their students.
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    ‘The Free-Flying Natural Woman Boobs of Yore’? the Body Beyond Representation in Feminist Accounts of Objectification
    McCann, H (Sage Publications, 2020-11-01)
    This article takes up references to breasts as a key case study to examine white Western feminist debate around embodiment and objectification. Tracking shifting understandings of ‘the gaze’ in these accounts, we find that objectification is often rendered singular, ahistorical and, increasingly, individually internalised. The history of these approaches to objectification helps to explain why during the early 2000s, theorisations of feminist politics-lost were often rhetorically located alongside discussions of surgically modified breasts as a symbol of a new era of ‘fake’ feminism. In contrast, the 2010s saw several feminist movements premised on exposure of flesh and claims to individual recuperation of bodily autonomy. This article contends that both of these perspectives rely on a notion, built over successive eras of white Western feminist thought, that political work can and ought to be done through the body as a site of representational politics. This article subsequently offers a brief insight into how we might queer our approach to breasts to better account for the messiness of experiences of the flesh, considering the personal as political, while not investing in the body as the site where politics must be enacted.