Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Research Student: Cassandra McLuckie

Theorizing satisfaction in intimacy: A study of everyday heterosexual sexuality through the voices of working and middle-class men and women

Photo of Cassandra McLuckie

 How do we as academic feminists account for straight sex? Why has our research in this area often circled around the same kinds of topics and knowledges  – and is this approach really doing justice to either academic feminism or the research object of straight sex? We often scramble as feminist theorists to criticise or celebrate particular figurations of heterosex, but few of us are willing to suspend our politicized theoretical lens in order to open up the possibility of sharpening our focus toward other interesting or significant meanings in this area. This seems to me to be a great shame, both for us as researchers, for example in terms of knowledge production and theoretical innovation, but perhaps more importantly, for the women (and men) we seek to do justice for in our work.

The motivation for the empirical component of my PhD then is to address and respond to some of these concerns practically: to research the stories straight men and women tell about their sexual practice, and to put to work a flexible theoretical framework that can tolerate and account for diversity in experience. This framework must do more than confirm or reject the hypothesis in the theory - as has been typical for much work on heterosexual sex practice - rather, it should open a space in which the generative nature of this research object can be supported and understood.

My central research question asks how ordinary heterosexuals attribute meaning, significance and value to their sexual practice over the course of their lives. Within this question I give an account of heterosexual sex-practice outside of, as relevant, an appraisal of its normative or subversive qualities/potentialities, or its resistance or conformity to gendered inequality or ‘power imbalances’. 

I am interested in the governing logics of knowledge production in identity-based fields, particularly feminism. I am also interested in theorising the body, time and experience, and 'work' to understand how straight men and women make sense of and ascribe value to their sex practice. 


Prior to starting my PhD in 2011 I completed an MA (Distinction) in Gender Studies (Research) as part of my ESRC 1+3 award at The University of Leeds.

My undergraduate degree was earned at The University of Lancaster in Women's Studies (First Class).

I have taught Sociology and Gender Studies at levels 1 – 3 (undergraduate).


  • ESRC (open competition) 1+3 full studentship (2010 – 2014)
  • HEIF (research fellowship), £1950 awarded (2011)
  • WUN (research mobility grant), £4000 awarded (2013)
  • AHRC/The Library of Congress (research fellowship), £4600 awarded (2013)

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