Drawing on data from a larger research study, this paper explores intersecting and competing social relations that influenced the romantic desires of women who became intimately involved with men who molested children. Through a feminist poststructuralist lens, women’s narratives were analysed with the use of feminist interpretations of Foucauldian discourse theory. Analysis informed of a discursive power over participants that made the attainment of romantic desires an imperative for ensuring social respect, worth and credibility as women. When all was not ideal, these same romantic desires compelled women to fix and hold onto their relationships – even when with men that attract damning societal responses towards them. Even upon acknowledgement of their partners’ sexual transgressions, the fear of relationship breakdown meant that romantic desires again featured as imperatives for the women. The imagined pleasure of achieving romantic desires is discursive; so powerful that it outweighed women’s fears and dangers of precarious intimate life with men who commit abhorrent acts.
- child molesters
- romantic desire