The Thing: An analysis of how ideologies relating to women and female bodies are reflected in the way young, British women talk about female genitalia

Karen Scotti, Line Beierholm Skydsgaard & Amalie Juul

Studenteropgave: Bachelorprojekt


This paper explores how women talk about genitalia and how this mirrors discourses around women and female sexuality.
For this purpose, six British women between the age of 20 and 30 were interviewed through two focus groups, and the collected data is analysed through the theoretical lenses of semiotics, Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and objectification theory. A background chapter that outlines relevant research is included in order to contextualise this study.
Following the framework of CDA, the transcriptions of the focus groups are examined on three distinct levels. The first analytical step is a review of the words, expressions and linguistic elements used by the participants when describing and discussing female genitalia. CDA is then applied to highlight the connections between the language used in relation to female genitalia and the general discourses surrounding women and their bodies. Lastly, objectification theory is used to build an understanding of the roots and origins of these ideologies and discourses.
The different characterisations of the words for female genitalia, their context-dependency and the (often) negative connotations attached to the terms were detected as possible causes behind the awkwardness explicitly expressed by women when talking about genitalia. The study found that the participants often showed an awareness around the negative discourses surrounding female genitalia as well as a dissatisfaction with these discourses. Nonetheless, a wish to challenge the discursive view on female genitalia and bodies through the reclaim of certain words were articulated in several occasions. The final finding of the paper is what seems to be a tension between participants expressing openness in regards to talking about female genitalia while the their linguistic behavior may suggest the opposite.

UddannelserBasis - International Humanistisk Bacheloruddannelse, (Bachelor uddannelse) Bachelor
Udgivelsesdato26 maj 2019
Antal sider40
VejledereAnne Fabricius