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Spurgas, A.K. (2013). Interest, Arousal, and Shifting Diagnoses of Female Sexual Dysfunction, or: How Women Learn About Desire. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 14(3):187-205.

(2013). Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 14(3):187-205

Interest, Arousal, and Shifting Diagnoses of Female Sexual Dysfunction, or: How Women Learn About Desire Related Papers

Alyson K. Spurgas

The newly released Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013) brings together “interest” and “arousal” and removes “desire” from the language of the most commonly diagnosed female sexual dysfunction. I examine the shift from Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in Women (HSDD) to the new diagnosis, Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder (SI/AD). Whereas “complex,” “flexible,” “responsive,” and “receptive” have long been popularly associated with femininity, these descriptors are now framed as essential features of female sexuality via neuroscientific and photoplethysmographic research and as in need of training. Lack of responsiveness to a partner's advances is included as a criterion for diagnosis of sexual dysfunction in women, and thus the move from HSDD to SI/AD evidences the eradication of desire as a constitutive component of female sexuality. These diagnostic and therapeutic shifts influence how women relate to their sexual bodies and those of their partners and have biopolitical, experiential, and psychorelational consequences.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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