Latex and Lingerie : Shopping for Pleasure at Ann Summers Parties
Author(s): Merl Storr
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.
“This is a fascinating book, almost impossible to put down. It explores how the contemporary contradiction generated by post-feminist rhetoric is both produced and partially resolved through the marketing and practice of Ann Summers parties. These parties play with the dynamic of useless men and liberated women, offering sex toys as the solution to the power gap; they promote hegemonic masculinity as inevitable whilst ridiculing it at the same time. This book shows that sex toys are symbolically central to current power formations in gender and class relations. I can guarantee that you will learn a lot from this book.” —Professor Beverley Skeggs, Department of Sociology, University of Manchester
“Meticulously researched, and written with great verve and style, Latex and Lingerie makes a major contribution to our understanding of heterosexual femininities. It shows how being 'one of the girls' is constructed around manifold exclusions of class, sexuality, 'race' and ethnicity, and how the 'fun' on offer in Anne Summers parties is of a distinctly post-feminist variety. Storr has fashioned a highly original analysis of female homosociality that takes both its pleasures and its problems seriously. This is an extremely important book that is destined to become a classic in the fields of gender, sexuality and cultural studies.” —Rosalind Gill, Gender Institute, London School of Economics