Special Issue of Women's Studies: "Desexualization"

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Women's Studies: an interdisciplinary journal (Taylor & Francis)
contact email: 

“Desexualization”—a special issue of Women's Studies: an interdisciplinary journal

Guest Editor: Helena Feder (ECU), federh@ecu.edu


This special issue of Women's Studies: an interdisciplinary journal invites submissions to address the global phenomenon I am calling “desexualization.” Long before the pandemic and social distancing, scientists had been reporting that people are having far less sex than ever before, in the United States, Japan, Britain, Europe, and elsewhere.

The media has been covering these findings for some time. In 2013, The Guardian ran an article about what the Japanese media call “sekkusu shinai shokogun, or ‘celibacy syndrome.;’ Japan's under-40s appear to be losing interest in conventional relationships. Millions aren't even dating and increasing numbers can't be bothered with sex.” The same year the BBC headlined this conclusion reached by British researchers: “Modern life 'turning people off sex.” And in the United States, too, fewer people are having sex; recently, The Atlantic featured this cover article, “Why Are Young People Having So Little Sex?” Citing a range of statistics from scholars and surveys, it made the argument that, “[d]espite the easing of taboos and the rise of hookup apps, Americans are in the midst of a sex recession.” And this year, just a month before the pandemic hit the US, The Atlantic ran this tech focused piece: “The ‘Dating Market’ Is Getting Worse: The old but newly popular notion that one’s love life can be analyzed like an economy is flawed—and it’s ruining romance.”

In the midst of the pandemic and so many political and ecological crises—climate change and the rising consumption of resources, institutional racism and state sanctioned violence, the rise in global fascism and misogyny—this may not seem like a pressing concern. But desexualization sits at the intersection of a number of justice issues: histories and discourses of embodiment (including hypersexual representations of Black, brown, and Semitic bodies), women’s and LGBTQ rights, and rapid and unseen technological development (including the dark web and human trafficking, misinformation and the undermining of democracy, data mining and the commodification of social worlds, and encoded biases, environmental racism, and the socioecological costs of production and waste). And, as in other spheres of life, the problems of the technologically “developed” world tend to envelop the entire world. Does desexualization uniquely reveal—as Judith Butler recently said of the pandemic—“the death drive at the heart of the capitalist machine”?

This special issue seeks a diversity of feminist perspectives on this phenomenon. Single or multidisciplinary essays on desexualization and any of the above topics (or one not listed here) are welcome.

Submissions: Please submit abstract proposals of 300 words and a short CV to Helena Feder (federh@ecu.edu ) by November 1, 2020; proposals should identify projected word length and framework of inquiry. Full articles (roughly 6000-7000 words) will be due for review by June 1, 2021. Formatting: all manuscripts must adhere to the most recent MLA formatting and citation guidelines (and spelling must follow American English). Any notes should appear as footnotes, not endnotes, and citation should be parenthetical in-text. For more information on formatting and style guidelines, visit the journal’s  website: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/gwst20/current