scifiroots: (Rouge skin betrayal)
[personal profile] scifiroots
So this semester I'm taking three classes plus an independent project: Soc Topics - Sexuality, Soc Seminar - Gender, and Pop Lit - Monsters in film. They're all excellent classes. In particular I'm really enjoying my soc classes.

At some point I'll list the various texts we've been reading and probably provide a few links to things we've read/watched online. At the moment, though, the reading done for today was particularly impactful in my opinion.

Let me start with a depressing stat (sorry) from a Kaiser Family survey. The following are the percentage of respondents who answered that they strongly or somewhat agree with the statement "Most people have sex before they are really ready."

Percent total: 91%
Boys: 91%
Girls: 90%
Sexually active: 89%
Not sexually active: 91%

Consider what this means.

Quotes from last night's reading:
"Sexuality and gender in children's daily world" by barrie Throne & Zeila Luria (1986)

"From an early age 'the sexual' is prescriptively heterosexual and male homophobic. Children draw on sexual meanings to maintain gender segregation.... In their separate gender groups, girls and boys learn somewhat different patterns of bonding.... Coming to adolescent sexual intimacy from different and asymmetric gender subcultures, girls and boys bring somewhat different needs, capacities, and types of knowledge."

"The social supports for gender segregation--in work and other institutions--are lifelong. Their effects extend into the organization of gender and of sexuality in late life."

"With the shift to adolescence, heterosexual encounters assume more importance. They may altar relations in same-gender groups."


"Doing desire: Adolescent girls' struggles for/with sexuality" by Deborah L. Tolman

"As they enter adolescence, many girls may lose an ability to speak about what they know, see, feel, and experience evident in childhood as they come under cultural pressure to be 'nice girls' and ultimately 'good women' in adolescence."

"The tactics of silencing and denigrating women's sexual desire are deeply entrenched in this patriarchal society."

"Sex education curricula name male adolescent sexual desire; girls are taught to recognize and to keep a lid on the sexual desire of boys but not taught to acknowledge or even to recognize their own sexual feelings."

"While speaking of the power of their embodied feelings, the girls in this sample described the difficulties that their sexual feelings posed, being aware of both the potential for pleasure and the threat of danger that their desire holds for them."

"As she describes her first experience of sexual intercourse, she describes a trational framing of male-female relationships.... Rochelle's own sexual desire is absent in her story of defloration--in fact, she seems to be missing altogether. In a virtual caricature of dominant cultural conventions of femininity, Rochelle connects her disappearance at the moment of sex--'it just happened'--to her attempts to fulfill cultural guidelines for how to 'make [her] life complete.'"

"Rochelle conveys a careful knowledge of her body's hunger, her need for tension as an aspect of her sexual pleasure, but her voiced dislike of sex suggests that she does not feel she has much say over when and how she engages in sexual activity."

"Megan knows that girls who lose control over their desire like that can be called 'sluts' and ostracized."

"Although she knows the logic offered by society--that she must 'say no' to keep him from 'going and going,' which will make her 'a slut'--Megan identifies what is missing from that logic, that 'maybe you'r'--she, the girl--'the one who is enjoying it.' The fact that she may be experiencing sexual desire makes the scripted response--to silence his body--is dizzying."

"In this description of compulsory heterosexuality, Megan captures the pressure she feels to have a boyfriend and how she experiences the insistence of this demand, which is ironically in conflict with the mandate to say no when with a boy....Compulsory heterosexuality comes between Megan and her feelings, making her vulnerable to a dissociation of her 'feelings' under this pressure."

"Although she calls herself bisexual, Megan does not describe her sexual feelings for girls very much in this interview. In fact, she becomes so confused at one point she says she is not sure if her feelings for girls are sexual: '...See I can picture like hugging a girl; I just can't picture the sex, or anything, so, there's somerthing being blocked.' Megan links her confusion with her awareness of the absence of images of lesbian sexuality in the spoken or imagistic lexicon of the culture, counterpointing the pervasiveness of heterosexual imagry all around her."

"Fearing rejection, Megan keeps herself from feelings that could lead to disappointment, embarrassment, or frustration, leaving her safe in some ways, yet also psychologically vulnerable. Echoing dominant cultural constructions of sexual desire, Megan links her desire for girls with feelings of fear.... Megan's fear about her desire for girls is different from the fears associated with her desire for boys."

"Living in a world defined as heterosexual, Melissa finds that 'little crushes' have to suffice, given a lack of opportunity for [lesbian] sexual exploration of relationship.... 'Realistically, I can't like get too ambitious.'"

"At the forefront of how Melissa describes her desire is her awareness that her sexual feelings make her vulnerable to harm....In response to this threat of violence, Melissa attempts to restrain her own desire."

"As the interview progresses, Melissa begins to question whether she is sexually attracted to this girl or 'it's just sort of like I just wanted something like this for so long that I'm just taking advantage of the situation.'"

"The desperation in her voice, and the sexual frustration she describes, suggest that her 'want' and 'need are distinctly sexual as well as relational."

"In trying to distinguish her different desires in this interview, Melissa began to distinguish erotic feelings from another kind of wanting she also experienced: she said that 'it's more of like but I kind of feel like it's really more of like a maternal thing, that I really want her to take care of me, and I just wanna touch someone and I just really like the feeling of just how I mean I like, when I'm with her and touching her and stuff. A lot, but it's not necessarily a sexual thing at this point.'"

"[The girls/respondents] speak very often not of the power of desire but of how their desire may get them into trouble."

"More often they speak of the danger of speaking about desire at all. By dousing desire with fear and confusion, or simple, 'uncomplicated' denial, silence, and dissociation, the girls in this study make individual psychological moves whereby they distance or disconnect themselves from discomfort and danger."

"Girls can be empowered to know and act on their own desire, a different educational direction than the simplistic strategies for avoiding boys' desire that they are offered. The 'just say no' curriculum obscures the larger social inequities being played out on girls' bodies in heterosexual relationships and is not relevant for girls who feel sexual feelings for girls."


Both articles made me think back to childhood and my development as not only myself, but as a girl, someone going into womanhood. Distressingly I can map the changes (and yup, started in 6th grade - already the changing time, compounded in my situation with a change of schools). And I lost a significant amount of self-confidence, comfort with myself, and openness. Even now as I speak with many people about almost any topic, there's still more that I hold back.

And the fears talked about? That pulling back on oneself? Yeah. Yeah, somehow the fears got tied in. When I've been kissed or have kissed someone in the past for years (woohee, all of two people *rolls eyes*), I suddenly disconnet. I don't feel anything except make clinical observations. Why? How do I change that? Honestly I think these readings were so appealing to me because it comforted me to know that I wasn't crazy or so different. It makes me mad, though. I'm angry at the environment that's taught me to be scared, to doubt myself, and indeed silence my desire, made sexuality a shameful thing.

*sighs* Exhausting.
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