Spurgas to present research on women’s sexuality at international conference

Sociology professor Alyson Spurgas interviewed women for her research to examine the relationship between low sexual desire and trauma.

Sociology professor Alyson Spurgas will present her research on women's sexuality at an inter-disciplinary conference in Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Theresa San Luis

She will present her findings at the International Congress for Critical Social Psychology: Affect, Embodiment, and Politics Conference this month in Barcelona, Spain.

Spurgas said she is excited to discuss her research at this interdisciplinary conference which brings together scholars in neuroscience, psychology and sociology from throughout the world.

“It brings together not only diverse scholars in different fields but from around the world,” Spurgas said. “Interdisciplinary work is important to link these [issues] together from a humanistic perspective.”

She said her research on women’s sexuality, which tracks the development of discourses about female sexual dysfunction, including a female-specific diagnosis in the 2013 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), is new.

“I am making an argument about these diagnoses that I haven’t heard anybody else make,” Spurgas said. “Clinicians and doctors who diagnose patients aren’t making the connections. So in my work I’m trying to make the connections. And I’m trying to help women.”

Spurgas said women are being deprived of the ability to experience their sexuality when not properly helped.

There is a separate diagnoses for trauma called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the DSM, according to Spurgas.

“People who wrote the psychiatric Bible (DSM) aren’t considering the correlation between trauma and low desire and that hurts women,” Spurgas said.

Spurgas said she hopes her findings will influence medical doctors because they have implications for how women are treated by medicine and psychiatry in which prescription drugs may be given, and if the women are given therapy.

She added that she is interested in how women’s sexuality is framed and understood in both scientific studies and in popular media.

“I want to see how those discourses actually influence real women,” Spurgas said. “If women read scientific studies or if they read news stories or articles in popular magazines that describe women’s desire as “naturally” lower than men’s, and there is no discussion of gendered violence, how will this actually influence them in real life?”

According to Spurgas, different statistics would suggest that up to 30 percent of women have low sexual desire.

“But we also have to remember that at least that many women have been victims of violence,” Spurgas said. “To me that correlation is a no brainer. It just makes sense, but I don’t think the doctors are making that connection.”

She added that many sexual violence cases go unreported, which she said is problematic.

“I think that’s kind of the core issue,” Spurgas said. “It’s still really stigmatized to even talk about a lot of these issues, and so, the more light that is shone on the issues, hopefully the more women will be able to seek out help.”

Later this year, her paper, “Low desire, trauma, & femininity in the DSM-5: A case for sequelae” will be published in “Psychology & Sexuality,” an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed, academic journal.

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed Under: Sociology & Criminal Justice

Tags: , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Switch to our mobile site