Bad Girls, Dirty Bodies: Sex, Performance and Safe Femininity

By Gemma Commane on March 12th, 2021

By Gemma Commane

About the book

What makes a woman ‘Bad’ is commonly linked to certain ‘qualities’ or behaviours seen as morally or socially corrosive, dirty and disgusting. In Bad Girls, Dirty Bodies, Gemma Commane critically explores the social, sexual and political significance of women who are labelled ‘Bad’, sluts or dirty. Through a variety of case studies drawn from qualitative and original ethnographic research, she argues that ‘Bad Girls’ disrupt heterosexual normativity and contribute new embodied knowledge.

From neo-burlesque, sex-positive and queer performance art, to explicit entertainment and areas of popular culture; Commane situates ‘Bad’ women as sites of power, possibility and success. Through the combination of case studies (Ms T, Empress Stah and RubberDoll, Mouse and Doris La Trine), Gemma Commane offers a challenge to those who think that sexual, slutty, Bad, and dirty women are not worth listening to. Significantly, she unpicks the issues generated by women who are complicit in the subjugation, policing and marginalization of ‘other’ women, both in popular culture and in sites of subcultural resistance.

The book is available from Bloomsbury.


“This book makes a bold intervention into debates on femininity, pleasure, agency, and sexualisation. Bad Girls, Dirty Bodies is a singular achievement: scholarly, sophisticated and provocative, it establishes Gemma Commane as one of the most exciting voices in feminist cultural studies today.” –  Dr Debra Ferreday, Director, Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies, Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, UK.,