Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 236–253 | Cite as

Sexuality as Failure: Psychoanalytic Concepts, Cultural Perspectives

  • Insa HärtelEmail author
Original Paper


This contribution focuses on the ways in which sexuality is negotiated in western societies today, ensuing from two cultural examples:
  • In November 2017, within the context of the #MeToo campaign, a British mother urged for the banning of the fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty” from elementary school books, stating that it promotes “inappropriate” sexual behavior.

  • The article headlined “Voll Porno” (All Porn), published 2007 in the weekly German magazine, stern, can be seen in the context of the so-called “pornographization”. The piece laments that some children “no longer learn what love is”.

This contribution argues that both of these morally laden discourses “fail” themselves. Contrary to their own agenda, the way in which their content and messages are relayed appears to, in and of itself, actually perpetrate what they are negatively evaluating rather than exclude it: namely, a victimization or fetishization of endangered white innocence and a transgression of limits, respectively. In the context of subsequent theoretical considerations, some psychoanalytic reflections about sexuality’s confusing, “transboundary” aspects are given. Here the question is: Isn’t sexuality always a form of “failure”? Overall, shown through selected cultural productions, this contribution examines the central question: What is missing in today’s cultural concepts of sexuality?


Sexuality #MeToo Sexual consent Victimization Pornographization Psychoanalysis 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

For this type of study formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cultural Scholar at the International Psychoanalytic University BerlinBerlinGermany

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