Dr. Sari van Anders

Examining gender pleasure

Faculty of Arts and Science researcher and Canada 150 Research Chair in Social Neuroendocrinology, Sexuality, & Gender/Sex Sari van Anders has earned the SPECTRUM award for a new manuscript with former students, Gender pleasure and minoritized gender/sex/ual experiences.

The award, presented by the Association for Women in Psychology, is for outstanding scholarship focused on the psychology of LGBTQ+/Queer experiences.

“The interesting thing about this award is this research was led by one of my former graduate students Will Beischel along with Jane Mao who completed her undergrad in psychology at Queen’s and then earned her Masters of Education, and colleague Jay Irwin,” says Dr. van Anders. “Will’s dissertation was examining the concept of gender pleasure.”

Dr. van Anders adds that considerable feminist work on gender is focused on oppression, and for good reason because there is so much oppression that people experience in relation to sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other gender related stigmas. But there has been a call for people to attend to some of the positives of minoritized people’s experiences as well. Not of being minoritized itself, clearly, but of resistance efforts and people thriving despite stigma and marginalization. This work looks at how gender pleasure is experienced by minoritized folks. 

“It was truly an honor to win an award from the Association for Women in Psychology, the premier feminist psychology organization in the United States,” says Dr. Beischel. “Winning this award feels affirming that what I’m doing is recognized as feminist and a worthwhile contribution to the project of gender liberation.

“Being able to say that my dissertation work is award-winning is hopefully going to help me further my research program on gender pleasure,” they added. “Some people may not fully understand the importance of studying positive gendered experiences, so an award like this is something I can easily point to as an external indication of the value of my research.”

Dr. van Anders says this award is important for the students who worked so hard on the paper.

“When you are trying to do innovative work in the field of gender, there is sometimes resistance to it from mainstream disciplinary approaches. So, especially for emerging students who are trying to move forward in their careers, this award shows people are valuing the work they are doing, that the work they are doing is seen as mattering. It sends word that this work is a viable career option.”

Learn more about Dr. van Anders and her research on the van Anders Lab website.