Adolescent Girls’ Sexual Empowerment: Two Feminists Explore the Concept
- 4.4k Downloads
Although all feminists tend to value empowered female sexuality, feminists often disagree, sometimes heatedly so, about the definition of and path to empowered sexuality among adolescent girls. In this theoretical paper, two feminists, who have previously expressed differing perspectives regarding adolescent girls’ sexual empowerment (Lamb 2010a, b; Peterson 2010), discuss their disagreements and attempt to find some common ground in their viewpoints on girls’ sexuality. A critical question related to sexual empowerment is whether empowerment includes a subjective sense of efficacy, desire, and pleasure. In other words, are girls sexually empowered if they feel that they are empowered? The authors identify three themes that make answering this question particularly challenging—age differences, exposure to sexualized media, and the pressure to please a partner. Despite these challenges, the authors identify several points of consensus, including agreeing that adequate sexuality education and media literacy education are vital to optimizing adolescent girls’ sexual empowerment.
KeywordsFeminism Empowerment Adolescent girls Sexuality
The order of authorship is alphabetical. The authors contributed equally to this article.
- American Psychological Association, Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. (2007). Report of the APA task force on the sexualization of girls. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/wpo/sexualization.html.
- Baumgardner, J., & Richards, A. (2003). The number one question about feminism. Feminist Studies, 29, 448–452.Google Scholar
- Butler, J. (1993). Gender is burning: Questions of appropriation and subversion. In S. Thornham (Ed.), Feminist film theory, a reader (pp. 336–352). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
- Chandra, A., Martinez, G. M., Mosher, W. D., Abma, J. C., & Jones, J. (2005). Fertility, family planning, and reproductive health of U.S. women: Data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth. Vital and Health Statistics, Series 23, Number 25. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_025.pdf.
- Cornell, D. (Ed.). (2000). Feminism & pornography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Crawford, M. (2006). Transformations: Women, gender, & psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
- Debold, E., Wilson, M., & Malave, I. (1993). Mother daughter revolution: From good girls to great women. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
- Durham, M. G. (2008). The Lolita effect: The media sexualization of girls and 5 keys to fixing it. New York: Overlook Press.Google Scholar
- Edut, O. (2003). Body outlaws: Rewriting the rules of beauty and body image. Berkeley: Seal Press.Google Scholar
- Fine, M. (1988). Sexuality, schooling, and adolescent females: The missing discourse of desire. Harvard Education Review, 58, 29–53.Google Scholar
- Fine, M., & McClelland, S. (2006). Sexuality education and desire: Still missing after all these years. Harvard Educational Review, 76, 297–338.Google Scholar
- FoxNews. (2009). Miley Cyrus gets raunchy with a pole at the Teen Choice Awards, wins six trophies. Fox News. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com.
- Friedrich, W. (2007). Children with sexual behavior problems: Family-based attachment focused therapy. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
- Gagnon, J., & Simon, W. (1973). Sexual Conduct: The Social Sources of Human Sexuality. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
- Gill, R. (2007). Critical respect: dilemmas of choice and agency in feminism (A response to Duits and Van Zoonen). European Journal of Women’s Studies, 14, 69–80. doi:10.1177/1350506807072318.
- Girls, Inc. (2006). The supergirl dilemma: Girls feel the pressure to be perfect, accomplished, thin, and accommodating. New York: Author.Google Scholar
- hooks, b. (1991, June). Is Paris Burning? Z, 61.Google Scholar
- Kirby, D. (2007). Emerging answers 2007: Research finding on programs to reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Washington: National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.Google Scholar
- La Guardia, J. G., & Ryan, R. M. (2002). What adolescents need: A self-determination theory perspective on development within families, school and society. In F. Pajares & T. Urdan (Eds.), Academic motivation of adolescents (pp. 193–220). Greenwich: IAP.Google Scholar
- Lamb, S. (2002). The secret lives of girls: What good girls really do – sex play, aggression, and their guilt. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Lamb, S. (2006). Sex, therapy, and kids: Addressing their concerns through talk and play. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
- Lamb, S. (2010c). Toward a sexual ethics curriculum: Bringing philosophy and society to bear on individual development. Harvard Educational Review, 80, 81–106.Google Scholar
- Levin, D., & Kilbourne, J. (2008). So sexy so soon: The new sexualized childhood and what parents can do to protect their kids. New York: Ballantine.Google Scholar
- Levy, A. (2005). Female chauvinist pigs: Women and the rise of raunch culture. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Luker, K. (2006). When sex goes to school: Warring views on sex—and sex education—since the sixties. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
- Mast, C. (2001). Sex respect: The option of true sexual freedom. Bradley: Respect Incorporated.Google Scholar
- Michaels, L. (1978). Saturday night live [Television series]. New York: NBC.Google Scholar
- Morrissey, T. E. (2010). Anti-gaga PSA warns parents about dangerous pop culture icons. Retrieved from http://jezebel.com/#!5627458/anti+gaga-psa-warns-parents-about-the-dangers-of-pop-culture.
- National Institutes of Health (1999). Questions and answers about the NIH policy and guidelines on the inclusion of children as participants in research Involving Human Subjects. Retrieved from http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/children/pol_children_qa.htm#q04name
- Obama, B. (2009). Inaugural address. In J. T. Woolley & G. Peters, The American presidency project. Retrieved from http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=44.
- Strossen, N. (1993). A feminist critique of “the” feminist critique of pornography. Virginia Law Review, 79, 1099–1190. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1073402.
- Tiefer, L. (1995). Sex is not a natural act and other essays. Boulder: Westview.Google Scholar
- Tolman, D. L. (2002). Dilemmas of desire: Teenage girls talk about sexuality. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar