Katrina Waters

Desire and Dissent: Negotiating and navigating the sexualisation of culture, women's sexual agency, choice, empowerment and gender resistance

Katrina WatersSupervisors: Dr Frankie Rogan and Dr Nicola Smith

Research Overview 

Through her research, Katrina aims to understand the factors that support women’s choices that resist and transgress sexual double standards and idealised stereotypes of women’s sexuality in their relationships with men.  She also examines the role of sexuality, and these factors, in creating more sustainable change towards broader gender equality.

In sexual relationships with men, women’s sexualities, choices and sense of self are at their most vulnerable to such stereotyping, double standards and the ‘doing’ of gender. Consequently, the demand for women’s sexual liberation, though understood differently by different factions of feminism, has been a thread throughout the feminist movement from the 19th century to the present day, arguably having its heyday in the Western, Anglo-American Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s.   

Katrina revisits this demand against a background of ‘third wave’ and post-feminist narratives about choice, gender, sexual agency, empowerment and the (unequal) ‘sexualisation’ of culture in the UK.  As such, the findings aim to extend current academic critique of ‘choice’ and sexualisation beyond the analytical frame of the individual to consider the recursive relationship between sexuality, femininities and masculinities, together with the implications of resistance, both for alternative visions for women’s sexuality that are attentive to pleasure as well as danger, and feminist aspirations beyond the domain of sexuality.


Katrina started her PhD research at the University of Birmingham in 2019 on a part-time basis, after attaining a BSc (Hons) in Microbiology and Virology and MSc in Public Relations.  Her research focuses on feminism, gender and sexualities, while drawing on her other long-term interests of campaigning, and political and social change.

Prior to commencing her PhD, Katrina held positions primarily in the higher education, third and public sectors in communications, stakeholder and political engagement, and operations as a specialist and a manager.

Research Interests

  • Sexual power, agency and choice
  • Sexualities and sexual politics
  • Feminist community action and activism, policy-making and social change
  • Gendered and sexual subjectivities and identities
  • Bodies and body image
  • Shame and shaming


Twitter: @katwaters@desire_dissent
Blog: desiredissentresearch.wordpress.com