Feminist sex-positive art on Instagram: reorienting the sexualizing gaze

Ruby Sciberras, Claire Tanner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Instagram has been identified as potentially offering opportunities for feminist activism and resistance against limiting normative ideals surrounding femininity and the body. Extending this work, this article examines a corpus of illustrations shared to Instagram by feminist sex-positive artists. Locating these representations within the constraints of a platform where gendered norms and hierarchies are predominant, we ask how and to what extent these visual and discursive digital representations may be representative of more transgressive constructions of feminine sexuality. To address these questions, we employed a qualitative feminist methodology, combining content analysis with critical discourse analysis of Instagram posts (n = 200) from a small sample of influential feminist artists (n = 10). Four key discursive strategies were identified: making the female body visible/refusing censorship, desexualizing the naked female body, diversifying feminine and sexual desirability norms and centering female pleasure and enjoyment. Our findings demonstrate how a current sex-positive movement on Instagram aims to re-orient the gaze through illustrations, to subjectify rather than objectify women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2696-2711
Number of pages16
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • feminism
  • Instagram
  • sex-positive
  • sexuality
  • the gaze

Cite this