Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Communication and Rhetorical Studies
rhetorical agency, sex education, sexual scripts, technosexuality, TikTok
This thesis investigates the changing shape of sex education online, particularly sex education that is pointed toward young audiences in algorithmically-constrained communities on TikTok. Drawing from rhetorical theory, critical sexuality studies, and critical algorithm studies, I situate sex education on TikTok within a broader paradigm of sexual scripting and sexual subjectification processes that participate in the cultural neoliberal sphere. I explore how sex educational TikToks rhetorically construct technosexual agents through digital pedagogies while navigating complex algorithmic constraints—and to do so, I analyze two emergent sexual scripts in these videos: that of orgasm and aftercare. While orgasm discourses fold neatly into previous scholarship on neoliberal self-optimization and disciplinary devices, aftercare’s roots in BDSM communities construct sexual subjects along a different vector, where rhetorical agency and power-conscious dialectics resist traditional sex education’s re/productive goals. Ultimately, I introduce a framework to begin conceptualizing the rhetorical construction of sexual subjects under a neoliberal cultural paradigm complicated by TikTok’s algorithmic constraints, without losing sight of the restorative potential that emerges from the collision of disperse sexual epistemes.
Hay, Ashley G., "Sexual Scripts and Sex Tips: Construction of the Spiciest Subject Through Sex Educational Content on TikTok" (2023). Theses - ALL. 706.