Top of page
Global Site Navigation


Local Section Navigation
You are here: Main Content

Rethinking how we behave in the bedroom

Tuesday, 07 May 2019


Revenge porn. Domestic violence. Date rape. Sexual harassment. Online harassment. Sexual bullying. Abusive relationships.

There’s a lot of damage done when we get up close and personal.

In the #MeToo era, the concept of ‘intimate civility’ will enable us to move equity and respect between genders into the bedroom, according to ECU’s Dr Elizabeth Reid-Boyd.

In a new study Dr Reid-Boyd, from the School of Arts and Humanities, explores the concept of intimate civility, which involves imagining civil rights and responsibilities within the private sphere.

Dr Reid-Boyd said while feminism had made great strides in the public sphere in the past 100 years, it was now time to push these advances into our most intimate and private spaces.

“As researchers we first started exploring the idea of intimate civility in interpersonal violence. In defining the term, we soon realised the concept had wider application that could change how we think about our most intimate relationships – and how we behave in them,” she said.

Intimate civility advocates the use of terms of endearment, not terms of abuse, according to Dr Reid-Boyd.

“We can develop qualities such as morality and empathy if we have experienced intimate relationships. But individuals reared in homes devoid of intimate civility could be challenged to identify and promote the interest or wellbeing of their intimate counterparts. It is a learnt behaviour, both at an interpersonal and societal level.

“Yet civility does not traditionally ‘belong’ in our most intimate relationships. Rather, it has been assumed that intimacy in our personal lives transcends the need for public values to govern relationships between/among men and women.

“Conceptualising intimate civility involves imagining civil rights and responsibilities within the private sphere. Considering this an impingement on individual liberty requires a re-think. It must be questioned how far the freedom to carry out private, uncivil acts is worth defending in a truly civil society,” Dr Reid-Boyd said.

The study ‘Introducing ‘Intimate Civility’: Towards a New Concept for 21st Century Relationships’ is published in the Journal of Media and Culture. Authors are Elizabeth Reid-Boyd, Madalena Grobbelaar, Eyal Gringart, Alise Bender, Rose Williams.


Skip to top of page