Young People’s Gendered and Classed Heterosexual Identities and Practices
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This chapter gives an in-depth account of how gendered heterosexual practices frame young people’s values, identities and relationships. In question are the ways in which teens assume, rework or reject prevalent cultural constructions of normative gendered heterosexuality, and the consequences of these for SRE messages. The previous chapter explored adolescents’ educational aspirations and social backgrounds and these issues also remain pertinent to understanding gendered heterosexual identities, and link to the relevancy of SRE messages. Prevailing normative constructions of heterosexuality often depict the cultural ideal of Western masculine sexuality as ‘naturally’ virile, autonomous, competitive, assertive and concerned to demonstrate sexual potency and dominance (see Pascoe, 2007; Ringrose, 2010) with women’s sexuality as inherently passive, dependent, absent or constrained (Skeggs, 1997a; Holland et al., 1998; Allen, 2003; 2011; Coy et al., 2010). Normative discourses which frame sexual practice are often associated with the ‘male sex drive’, ‘love and romance’, ‘permissive’ (Hollway, 1989) and ‘happily-ever-after’ discourses (Walkerdine, 1990) which remain largely taken for granted and deeply rooted within societies worldwide. Regarding SRE, research studies into (non)consensual sex highlight how teens have biological and contraceptive knowledge but grapple with pressure, coercion and expectations around engaging in ‘proper’ sex.
KeywordsYoung Woman Sexual Intercourse Romantic Relationship Sexual Identity Sexual Encounter
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