The Work of Pleasure. Technologies of Gender and Neoliberal Subjects in the Age of Reagan

Di Barbara Antoniazzi

In: Riconoscersi. Corpo e gender tra individuale e sociale XLII , No. 1-3 ( 2013 )

Sezione Saggi / Articles


This article investigates the gendered critique of neoliberal subjectivity and governance that emerges in the work of the American playwright Paula Vogel. Drawing on theories of neoliberalism and individualization, my analysis focuses on the condition of women simultaneously engaged in self-optimization and self-disempowerment as required by the new socioeconomic regime. The two case studies, The Oldest Profession and Hot ‘n’ Throbbing, deal explicitly with different types of sex workers and, by extension, with the commodification of pleasure produced by a hyper-rational, profit-oriented work ethic. Their depiction of the female condition in the wake of Reaganomics highlights the tension between the misinterpretation of freedom inherent in the neoliberal creed, the reality of economic pressures, and an ongoing erosion of the democratic ideal.