Counterstories: who counts as lesbian?

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dc.contributor.advisor Connolly, Linda en
dc.contributor.advisor Leane, Máire en
dc.contributor.author Gaffney, Christine Mary
dc.date.accessioned 2015-11-25T12:39:31Z
dc.date.issued 2015
dc.date.submitted 2015
dc.identifier.citation Gaffney, C. M. 2015. Counterstories: who counts as lesbian?. DSocSc Thesis, University College Cork. en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10468/2099
dc.description.abstract Coming out midlife is a profound and life‐changing experience—it is an experience of self‐shattering that entails the destabilisation of identity, and of family relationships. Entailing a displacement from social insider to outsider, it is a difficult, but also exhilarating, journey of self, and sexual, discovery. This thesis is an examination of the experiences of nine women who undertook that journey. This dissertation is very much a search for understanding—for understanding how one can be lesbian, and how one can not have known, following a lifetime of heterosexual identification—as well as a search for why those questions arise in the first place. I argue that the experience of coming out midlife exposes the fundamental ambiguity of sexuality; and has a significance that ranges beyond the particularity of the participants’ experiences and speaks to the limitations of the hegemonic sexual paradigm itself. Using the theoretical lens of three diverse conceptual approaches—the dynamic systems theory of sexual fluidity; liminality; and narrative identity—to illuminate their transition, I argue that the event of coming out midlife should be viewed not merely as an atypical experience, but rather we should ask what such events can tell us about women’s sexuality in particular, and the sexual paradigm more generally. I argue that women who come out midlife challenge those dominant discourses of sexuality that would entail that women who come out midlife were either in denial of their “true” sexuality throughout their adult lives; or that they are not really lesbian now. The experiences of the women I interviewed demonstrate the inadequacy of the sexual paradigm as a framework within which to understand and research the complexity of human sexuality; they also challenge hegemonic understandings of sexuality as innate and immutable. In this thesis, I explore that challenge. en
dc.description.sponsorship Higher Education Authority (PRTLI 4) en
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher University College Cork en
dc.rights © 2015, Christine M. Gaffney. en
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ en
dc.subject Lesbian en
dc.subject Midlife en
dc.subject Liminality en
dc.subject Women en
dc.subject Bisexuality en
dc.subject Ireland en
dc.subject Dynamic systems theory en
dc.subject Narrative identity en
dc.subject Sexual fluidity en
dc.subject Sexuality en
dc.subject Sexual community en
dc.subject Sexual orientation en
dc.subject Sexual paradigm en
dc.subject Coming out en
dc.subject Coming out midlife en
dc.title Counterstories: who counts as lesbian? en
dc.type Doctoral thesis en
dc.type.qualificationlevel Doctoral Degree (Structured) en
dc.type.qualificationname Doctor of Social Science en
dc.internal.availability Full text not available en
dc.check.info Indefinite en
dc.check.date 10000-01-01
dc.description.version Accepted Version
dc.contributor.funder Higher Education Authority en
dc.description.status Not peer reviewed en
dc.internal.school Applied Social Studies en
dc.internal.school Sociology en
dc.check.type No Embargo Required
dc.check.reason No embargo required en
dc.check.opt-out Yes en
dc.thesis.opt-out true
dc.check.embargoformat Not applicable en
dc.internal.conferring Summer Conferring 2015
dc.internal.IRISemailaddress christine.gaffney@ucc.ie en


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© 2015, Christine M. Gaffney. Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2015, Christine M. Gaffney.
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