Breanne Fahs's research while affiliated with Arizona State University and other places

Publications (88)

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Introduction This study traced sexuality differences in Black Lives Matter (BLM) approval before using theories of “political distinctiveness” to explain why sexuality differences occurred. Methods A random sample of 3489 US adults completed the 2016 wave of the American National Election Survey (ANES) Time Series project. Ordinary least squares (...
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Traditional gender scripts in restaurants assume that men wield money, while women are framed as ‘accessories’ who do not pay restaurant checks in mixed-gender settings. While some research has addressed how servers replicate this script at U.S. restaurants, no previous research has looked at this practice longitudinally over time. This study explo...
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The practice, theory, and critique of allyship have been central to feminist scholarship and activism. Identities once not regarded as identities at all but as neutral givens, such as male-ness, whiteness, cisnormativity, heterosexuality, abledness, and settlerhood, have all become politicized planes of analysis and action. Yet little scholarship,...
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We draw from critical pedagogy and work on radical democratic praxis when discussing ways to teach sexuality studies in a way that embodies revolt and resistance to inequitable social hierarchies. Together, we specifically look at three areas where we have worked to infuse the teaching of sexuality with themes of resistance and revolt: 1) Enhancing...
Article
In this study, I examined three case studies of Assigned-Female-At-Birth (AFAB) teenagers who came out to their families in the course of therapy; all cases are derived from private practice work from 2015 to 2018. These all have in common some of the important and distinct differences between “coming out” as LGB and “coming out” as transgender or...
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Accurate biological information about menstruation is crucial for menstrual health literacy. A diverse group of students (N = 125) at a large southwestern US university estimated—by pouring liquid into containers—the amount of menstrual blood produced during an average menstrual period. Only 14% could give a relatively accurate estimate, whereas 55...
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Tensions between emotional labor, agency, entitlement, and coercion all underlie women’s ability or inability to negotiate, consent to, and refuse oral and anal sex. In this study, we analyzed semi-structured interviews with twenty women from a diverse 2014 community sample collected in a large Southwestern U.S. city in order to examine the context...
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While some researchers have studied the spread of sexually-transmitted infections and diseases (STIs and STDs), little attention has been paid to the subjective narratives of how women assess sexual safety and the possibility of contracting STIs when having sex with partners. This study analyzed semi-structured interviews with twenty women from a d...
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While therapist matching between patient and therapist based on race and gender has received much scholarly attention, and some work has examined fatness in therapy for either the patient or the therapist, little has been written about therapies that involve fat therapists and fat patients. This manuscript explores the psychological kinship of the...
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Although some researchers have addressed differences in sexual desire between sexual partners, little attention has been paid to the subjective narratives of how women understand and reflect on discrepancies in sexual desire between themselves and their partners. In the present study we used a critical sexualities (Fahs and McClelland 2016) perspec...
Chapter
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Przybylo and Fahs examine a series of new menstrual product advertisements, arguing that they push consumer capitalist goals of selling menstrual gear with an “empowered” message at the expense of co-opting feminist discourses of body and menstrual positivity. Drawing on feminist menstrual scholarship, they argue that menstrual positivity is thinne...
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This article traces the practices and outcomes of an undergraduate research group that began organically to foster research and activist collaborations in a small group setting and without the rubric of a structured course, formal lab setting, or formal institutional backing. We consider several outcomes of this group: (1) Graduate school entry and...
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Because negative views of menstruation are ubiquitous throughout the world, women’s distinctly positive and negative experiences with menstruation are rarely distinguished from each other. Semi-structured interviews with 20 women from a diverse (race, class, sexual orientation) community sample in a large Southwestern U.S. city were analyzed from a...
Book
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This open access handbook, the first of its kind, provides a comprehensive and carefully curated multidisciplinary genre-spanning view of the state of the field of Critical Menstruation Studies, opening up new directions in research and advocacy. It is animated by the central question: ‘“what new lines of inquiry are possible when we center our att...
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This is a commentary on Ward and McPhail’s (2019) article “Fat Shame and Blame in Reproductive Care: Implications for Ethical Health Care Interactions.” Here I examine three aspects of fatness and health care that deserve more attention by researchers and clinical practitioners. First is the nature of fat phobia and the ways that hatred of fatness...
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This is a commentary on Gloria Steinem’s (1978 Steinem, G. (1978, October). If men could menstruate: A political fantasy. Ms. Magazine, p. 110. [Google Scholar]) “If Men Could Menstruate,” which is reprinted in this issue. Here I situate Steinem’s essay in the context of other second-wave feminists (e.g., W.I.T.C.H., Flo Kennedy, Valerie Solanas) w...
Chapter
While research has measured people’s own attitudes about their bodies and perceptions of beauty, little research has examined women’s feelings about an imagined dreaded or ugly body. Building on an earlier study of women’s imagined “dreaded bodies,” this study utilizes thematic analysis of qualitative data from a community sample of 20 American wom...
Chapter
This chapter closely examines female bisexuality by looking at the differences between how it has worked as a self-identity (i.e., women saying or deciding that they are bisexual) compared to the behavioral components of women who do not identify as bisexual but nevertheless engage in sexual behavior with both men and women. We also contrast self-i...
Chapter
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In this chapter, we illustrate the paradox of pleasure and danger by examining points of tension, contradiction, and conflict about women’s sexuality, power, and empowerment. We have divided this chapter into two parts. In Part 1, we begin by reiterating Fahs and McClelland’s (2016) argument for critical sexuality studies and argue for how such a l...
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For those entering the field of sexuality studies, there is often little advice or guidance on the many facets of the work, some of which are pleasurable and some of which are dangerous. Drawing from our personal and professional conflicts surrounding our work as feminist psychologists and sociologists studying women’s sexuality, we extend Carole V...
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In the shadows of the cultural obsession with male erections, women’s vaginal lubrication and experiences of wetness have received surprisingly little academic attention. Framed largely as a biological or normative behavioral “sexual function” issue and not as a subjective experience, no previous qualitative studies have asked women to discuss thei...
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Student protest is often an engine of social change for sexual minorities and other oppressed groups. Through an analysis of college students in the Add Health survey (n = 2,534), we found that sexual minorities attend more political marches than heterosexuals. To understand why this sexuality difference occurs, we performed a logistic regression a...
Chapter
Sara Ahmed said, ‘Emotions should not be regarded as psychological states, but as social and cultural practices’ (2004, 9). Critical feminist scholarship on embodiment and women’s lived experiences of their bodies has resituated and reframed the way that social scientists understand the discipline, control, and regulation of bodies (Foucault 1995)....
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Existing studies of women’s sexual happiness and pleasure most often centre on sexual satisfaction, orgasm, and sexual dysfunction, largely failing to allow women to narrate their own experiences. With the recent release of the first drug to ‘treat’ women’s waning libidos a qualitative examination of women’s notion of ‘good sex’ is more pressing an...
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While sexual minorities have produced large and efficacious social movements in many countries, there are few systematic studies on why gays and lesbians join these movements. To address this void, this study created a unique sample of activist and non-activist listservs to identify some factors that inspired greater involvement in protests for gay...
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Abortion politics are often about “pro-choice” and “pro-life” countermovements trying to gain power by winning the support of political bystanders. While more is known about the reasons people become pro-choice activists, far less research has examined the motives for pro-life men and women. To address the factors that mobilize abortion activism, t...
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Numerous assumptions—many rooted in privilege, educational status, and hegemonic power norms—are embedded in the process of collecting qualitative research on people’s sexualities, particularly surrounding meaning making, language, and sexual scripts. This paper interrogates 3 moments in qualitative sex research—what I call “margins of the intervie...
Chapter
Movements to advocate for women's health originated during the women's movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States. Originally a movement designed to get women more in touch with and to know more about their bodies, women's health movements have grown to encompass a variety of goals that unite the personal and political spheres....
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Because menstruation has a long history of rendering the menstruating body shameful, taboo, silent, and even pathological, menstrual activists have combatted this in numerous ways: by helping women to feel more open and accepting toward their menstrual cycles and by focusing on changing institutions that either promote harmful products or encourage...
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Attentive to the collision of sex and power, we add momentum to the ongoing development of the subfield of critical sexuality studies. We argue that this body of work is defined by its critical orientation toward the study of sexuality, along with a clear allegiance to critical modalities of thought, particularly feminist thought. Critical sexualit...
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p>Because women’s studies radically challenges social hierarchies and lacks a unified identity and canon of thought, it often negotiates a precarious position within the modern corporatized university. At the same time, women’s studies offers—by virtue of its interdisciplinary, critical, and “infectious” structure—cutting-edge perspectives and goal...
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Despite the empirical uncertainty about the existence of menstrual synchrony (i.e., the phenomenon where some women's menstrual cycles synchronize when they live in close proximity with one another), the persistence of beliefs in its existence permeate popular and medical discourses. Although there is a substantial body of scientific work on whethe...
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Sociological theories of gendered “emotional labor” have often been examined in relation to domestic work, sex work, and jobs that demand emotional caretaking and physical “pampering” of clients (e.g., hairdressers, nail salon workers, medical workers). The concepts of emotional labor have been used far less often to address inequalities within pri...
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While some literature has explored women’s feelings about social identities like fatness, race, disability, queerness, and aging, little research has examined, from an intersectional perspective, how women construct a dreaded or viscerally disgusting body and how this produces “appropriate” femininity. This paper utilized thematic analysis of quali...
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This essay outlines a recent assignment I designed for an upper-division cross-listed women and gender studies/social justice and human rights course I teach called, “Trash, Freaks, and SCUM.” In the context of the students reading Edward Humes’ (2012) Garbology, the trash bag assignment asked that students carry around their trash for two 48-hour...
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Tensions between second and third wave understandings of the body and embodiment have led to disagreements about whether to situate the body as corporeal and concrete or theoretical, diverse, and complex. Drawing from key tactics of the second wave women's health movement, including cervical viewing, menstrual extraction, genital diversity work, or...
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Although some research has examined “friends with benefits” relationships (FWBRs), women's subjective accounts of FWBRs remains notably understudied. Utilizing attachment theory, scripting theory, and social constructionist theories of gender, this study drew upon qualitative interviews with a community sample of 20 women (mean age = 34, SD = 13.35...
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Existing literatures on anal sex mostly focus on links between anal sex and public health, particularly sexual risk-taking. Drawing upon feminist theoretical frameworks, this study linked anal sex activities of heterosexual men and women to broader issues of sexist power imbalances. This study analyzed survey data from 205 undergraduates to assess...
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Despite the frequent depiction of heterosexual anal sex in pornography, and growing indications that heterosexual couples engage in anal sex, almost no research has examined women's subjective experiences with receptive anal sex with men. This study draws upon qualitative interviews with 20 American women (mean age=34, SD=13.35) from diverse ages a...
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Though researchers have hotly debated the phenomenon of menstrual synchrony—women menstruating in tandem when living in close quarters with one another—no conclusive evidence has proven or disproven its existence. In this theoretical article, we draw from sociological theories of collective identities, psychological research on menstrual synchrony,...
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While some literature has explored women's sexual satisfaction and, to a lesser degree, women's faking orgasm experiences, little research has examined the context and conditions around women's best and most memorable orgasms. This paper utilised thematic analysis of qualitative data from a community sample of 20 women in the USA (mean age = 34 yea...
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An emerging body of research targets women's relationship to their genitals, particularly as pubic hair removal and the promotion of female genital surgeries increase in popularity and visibility. This study asked women to discuss their subjective feelings about three related but distinct genital attitudes: pubic hair grooming, sex during menstruat...
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While social workers advocate against domestic violence, sexual harassment, and restrictive reproductive practices, there have been virtually no studies on the reasons behind their feminist activism. To address this oversight, this study documented the extent of feminist activism among American undergraduate social work students (n = 159). When mov...
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While the sex-positive movement has made a significant contribution to the advancement of women's sexuality, much of this work has emphasized 'positive liberty,' that is, women's freedom to expand sexual expression and sexual diversity. This work has largely ignored women's freedom from oppressive mandates and requirements about their sexuality, th...
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While previous studies have addressed symbolic implications of lesbian dildo usage and quantitative findings about women’s vibrator use, little research has assessed women’s subjective feelings about using sex toys. This study draws upon qualitative interviews with twenty women from diverse ages and backgrounds to illuminate six themes in women’s n...
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Although battles over gay and lesbian rights have appeared prominently in political arenas, scholars have created few empirical studies on gay and lesbian activism. To address this absence, this quantitative study identified factors that inspired greater electoral engagement among gays and lesbians in the United States (n = 285). After integrating...
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Although some research has examined men and women's general attitudes toward women growing body hair, little research has engaged in a side-by-side examination of women's imagined experiences of growing body hair with an experiential component of growing their own body hair. In the first of two studies, I asked a diverse community sample of women a...
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Exposure to heterosexist discrimination may vary by a person's place of residency. Utilizing a minority stress perspective, an online survey of self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals (n = 285) examined whether rural and small town inhabitants experienced greater exposure to six types of enacted stigma. After comparing the freq...
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While popular culture has more frequently depicted women's masturbation in recent years, scholarly attention to women's own meaning making about masturbation remains largely absent. Existing research that emphasizes women's masturbation frequency, health correlates, masturbation as a factor in couples therapy, and masturbation as a substitute for p...
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This paper considers the contexts and motivations as to why some social work students engage in lesbian and gay rights activism. To explain electoral and protesting modes of activism, this study utilized variables from resource, mobilizing, and framing theories of political participation to explain activism related to gay and lesbian rights. After...
Chapter
When I teach a course called “Gender, Bodies, and Health,” designed to explore topics that include everything from pregnancy and domestic violence to orgasm and food politics, nothing provokes more disgust, hostility, and discomfort than the week on menstruation. Male students have left the class on the first day when I merely mention that we will...
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Courses in women’s studies and gender studies within US contexts have long prioritized content that critically examines the social construction of bodies and sexualities, consciousness-raising about how social identities interface with disciplinary and institutional practices, and the notion that ‘the personal is political.’ This article examines t...
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Recently, there has been an increase in the number of studies on minority stress among sexual minorities. Few of these studies have explored the ways in which regional or spatial factors influenced the amount of minority stress that lesbians, gay men and bisexuals (LGBs) endure. To see if living in rural and small towns creates stressful social env...
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Social movements aimed at increasing rights for sexual minorities have mobilized in the United States and throughout the world, yet studies on why gays and lesbians from a variety of racial backgrounds join and participate in these collective actions are rare. To address this gap, this study used a survey to identify the key factors that inspired f...
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This article explores the reasons why some college students join the gay and lesbian rights movements. After addressing the frequency of students joining this social movement, the article then considers the contexts and motivations behind such actions. To explore the catalysts to gay and lesbian rights activism, this study utilizes variables from r...
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Research on bodies and sexualities has long debated ideas about choice, agency, and power, particularly as women conform to, or rebel against, traditional social scripts about femininity and heterosexuality. In this study, I have used responses from 34 college women who completed an extra credit assignment in a women’s studies class that asked them...
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Psychotherapy for survivors of sexual assault often focuses on recovery from acute posttraumatic stress symptoms. Little research has investigated treatments conducted when an asymptomatic patient seeks treatment for a traumatic event that occurred many years prior to starting therapy. This study draws on current literatures about rape recovery to...
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This article traces the development of peace activism among undergraduate social work students. In doing so, it explores how social statuses, political contexts, and collective action frames affect the likelihood of joining the movement against the Afghanistan war (2001 to current). After analyzing data from a multicampus sample of Bachelors in Soc...
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Empirical systematic studies on political activism among self-identified sexual minorities are sparse and underdeveloped. When using three waves of a random national survey of respondents who have sex with people of the same sex (N = 184), this study tested the predictive capabilities of “resource,” “framing,” and “network” theories of political pa...
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While much research has addressed negativity surrounding women’s menstruation, surprisingly little research has interrogated the relationship between menstruation and sexuality. This study used inductive thematic analysis of qualitative interviews with 40 women across a range of age, race and sexual orientation backgrounds to examine women’s experi...
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A candid and provocative critique of women's sexual liberation in America. Although conventional wisdom holds that women in the United States today are more sexually liberated than ever before, a number of startling statistics call into question this perceived victory: over half of all women report having faked orgasms; 45 percent of women find rap...
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Women face these accusations when they choose not to shave, because traditional gender roles have made the body a source of political contention. One recent study states, "Far from being the inevitable outcome of a biological imperative, femininity is produced through a range of practices, including normative body-altering work such as routine hair...
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Scholars and pundits have asserted that the United States has regions and pockets that serve as hotbeds of traditional gender roles. Through quantitative techniques, this analysis explores whether Appalachian college students differentiated themselves from others on a litany of different gender role measures (n = 508). Ultimately, Appalachian colle...
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While much research has examined sexual problems and dysfunction, far less research has examined intersections between sexual satisfaction and sexual activity, particularly as it relates to social identities. This study utilized secondary analysis of 1,473 women from the National Health and Social Life Survey to examine the way sexual satisfaction...
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This article examines how women consciously choosing asexuality might inform both radical feminist politics and anarchic concepts of positive and negative liberty. By resituating some of the lesser-known narratives of the 1960s’ and 1970s’ radical feminist movement (e.g. Valerie Solanas’ SCUM Manifesto and Boston’s Cell 16 and No More Fun and Games...
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Although Adrienne Rich once posited that “compulsory heterosexuality” required women to identify as heterosexual to comply with implicit social norms, this study examined the possibility of compulsory bisexuality in light of increasing reports of heterosexual-identified women engaging in homoerotic behavior with other women, usually in front of men...

Citations

... mative gender identification disclosure such as genderqueer (e.g.,Donatone & Rachlin, 2013;Garvey et al., 2019), gender nonconforming (e.g.,Cahill et al., 2018;Donatone & Rachlin, 2013), gender non-binary (e.g.,Fahs, 2021;Khayatt & Iskander, 2020;Whitehead et al., 2016), two-spirit(ed) 38 (e.g.,Alaers, 2019;Brotman et al., 2002; van Bergen et al., 2020;Wesley, 2014), and gender variant (e.g.,Donatone & Rachlin, 2013).Trans-including transgender(ed) or transsexual-is another possible form of gender identification disclosure addressed in coming out research (e.g.,Bahadur & Kumar, 2016;Brumbaugh-Johnson & Hull, 2019;Fahs, 2021; Galupo et al., 2014; Garvey et al., 2019; Garvey & Rankin, 2015b; Haimson & Veinot, 2020; Kennedy, 2020; Marques, 2020; ...
... In contrast, critical pedagogy places its emphasis on the ability to create an individual and subjective self. Thus, the form of knowledge transfer and training adopted by these programs is anchored by the idea that sexuality realization is based on social consciousness, resistance to social structures of power and oppression, and acceptance of the existence of different sexual identities; ultimately, this approach is based on the wish to promote and advocate learning processes aligned with human rights and empowerment (Fahs & Swank, 2021;Sanjakdar et al., 2015;Vallin, 2021). ...
... Therapist matching for fat clients may also allow for psychological kinship, solidarity and therapeutic work in healing and exploring the self, body image and the body-self relationship, weight discrimination and oppressions, affirmative work, and reimagining fatness in relationship dynamics (Fahs 2020). These interventions may be an important method of combatting weight discrimination and internalised weight stigma as a means to improving psychological wellbeing and mind-body relationship in a weight-stigmatising sociocultural environment, particularly when considering the relationship of weight stigma relationship to suicidality (Brochu 2020, Daly, Robinson et al. 2020. ...
... For more details and contextualisation of the law, see the introduction to this special collection. 3 The persistence of stigma through emphasis on the need for products has been analysed in menstrual advertising in Przybylo and Fahs (2020). Bobel (2019) has also observed a similar persistence of menstrual stigma despite the best intentions in advocating products as a 'technological fix' in the Menstrual Hygiene Management movement in the Global South (e.g., 10, 23). 4 On the Global North/ Global South dynamic in menstrual politics, see Bobel (2019). ...
... Words commonly associated with menstruation are "dirty," "bad," "foul," "smelly," "gross," and "impure" (Winkler, 2020). Menstruation is a tabooed subject, not just in developing countries but in others as well (Rihtaršič & Rihtaršič 2017;Tiwary, 2018) as societal norms and culture mold associated taboos (Mohammed et al., 2020;Mumtaz et al., 2019). ...
... Furthermore, this gendered ideology puts the entire task of consent onto women, giving them the bulk of the emotional labor during sex. Emotional labor is the work involved in managing other emotions while suppressing one's own emotions (Fahs & Swank, 2021). When one gender is expected to perform much of the emotional consent work, consent may become too burdensome, overwhelming, or difficult. ...
... We found our participants believed better access to products would have a significant influence on their lives. Bobel and Fahs [22] asserted that "It is troubling that activists assert the power of products to impact lives when the research base for these interventions, thus far, is thin" (p975). Our study has provided further evidence indicating the importance of product affordability for vulnerable women which is likely to become even more critical within the UK given the current economic crisis. ...
... Thus, many people are attuned to menstrual cycles and take note of changes as potentially indicating other underlying health concerns. For many people, menstruation matters for reasons beyond current conceptive intentions: Menstruation relates to their experiences of gender and gender dysphoria, to their intuitive connections to bodily processes, and to their fears and embarrassments surrounding menstrual stigma (58,64,65). Therefore, unexpected and unplanned menstrual changes can cause concern, distress, or other negative responses, in addition to discomfort and physical pain. ...
... Moreover, the proportion of these classes in our study (37.68% of the sample) was larger than that of classes in Western samples (7%-17%). Prior studies found that women are more likely to comply with men's sexual demands and please their male partners, and less likely to require men to meet their own sexual needs than the reverse (Fahs et al., 2020;Sanchez et al., 2012), thereby driving down women's sexual satisfaction (Muise et al., 2017). This gender difference in sexual satisfaction may be further intensified by Chinese traditional values. ...
... Despite the fact that health-care providers are increasingly speaking out against weight stigma and advocating for more sensitivity around weight as a point of entry in medical consultations (e.g., Puhl & Heuer, 2009), our data show that women with PCOS were held personally responsible for their weight gain. Many health-care providers, including providers that specialize in obesity-related disorders, hold fat-phobic perspectives, which leads to poor patient outcomes (Bombak et al., 2016;Fahs, 2019;Ward & McPhail, 2019). Indeed, research by Khan et al. (2018) found that women with PCOS find weight challenges to be one of the most difficult topics to broach with health-care providers because they are afraid of being blamed for their weight. ...