Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations


From the Boardroom to the Bedroom: Sexual Ecologies in the Algorithmic Age

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Media and Communication

First Advisor

Ellen W. Gorsevski (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Kristina N. LaVenia (Other)

Third Advisor

Lara M. Lengel (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Terry L. Rentner (Committee Member)


This project examined traditional gendered discourses surrounding the ends and means of sexuality, the emerging role of digital sexual technologies in purported sexual empowerment, and the socio-material aspects which revolve around these technologies, sexual medias, and sexual discourses. Combining critical feminist insights with media ecology, this project explored happenings within the sociosexually violent pre- and present-COVID-19 United States ecology, documenting novel and rigorous contributions in our increasingly algorithmic world. This study of the U.S. context critiques foundational constructs created by Enlightenment decisionmakers who rationalized colonial rhetorics and logics built into each preceding iteration of capitalisms from industrialism into neoliberalism since national origin. As such, it extends critiques of mechanistic models of the human body and sexual communications and situates them within the vastly uncriminalized sexual violences, as well as insufficient sexual education standards. Theoretically, I argue that a mechanization of humans has occurred, been pushed to its extreme, and is flipping into a humanization of objects. To demonstrate this, I critical feminist rhetorically analyzed 75 biomimetic sextech advertisements from the brand Lora DiCarlo, contextualizing them in salient discourses within 428 present-COVID-19 TikTok videos, investigating: “What rhetorical themes occur within advertisements for biomimetic sexual technologies marketed to vulva-havers in the late-stage present-COVID-19 neoliberal U.S. landscape?” “How have biomimetic sexual technologies marketed to vulva-havers effected how their sexual experiences are created and maintained in the sociosexual U.S. landscape?” and “How are biomimetic sextech changing vulva-havers sexual sense-making, experiences, and relations within the sexually violent late-stage capitalist present-COVID-19 U.S. landscape?” Using a feminist eye, this brings to media ecology a contextualization of biomimetic sextech devices marketed to vulva-havers, situating their socio-political and cultural nuances in conversation with otherwise taken for granted biological components of cisnormative and heteronormative life, among other relevant characteristics. Ergo, this project debuts a brand new liberatory embodied research paradigm.