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Sex Roles

, Volume 73, Issue 7–8, pp 298–310 | Cite as

Mobilizing Metaphor: Considering Complexities, Contradictions, and Contexts in Adolescent Girls’ and Young Women’s Sexual Agency

  • Deborah L. Tolman
  • Stephanie M. Anderson
  • Kimberly Belmonte
Feminist Forum Commentary

Abstract

With clarity and elegance, Bay-Cheng (2015) has provided a solid articulation of how neoliberalism has infiltrated the sexual lives of many girls and young women. Without question, research in the U.S. and the Anglophone West, as well as current trends in popular culture and the media in these locales, warrant recognizing neoliberal sexual agency and understanding the variety of ways it interacts with the slut/prude/virgin continuum. While some research has evidenced the salience of neoliberal sexual agency for some adolescent girls, we depart with Bay-Cheng’s (2015) assertion that developmental and age differences not be taken into account and question the primacy of neoliberal sexual agency as a new and comparable hegemony to the slut/prude/virgin continuum. We suggest that there remain other forms of sexual agency that should not be displaced or disregarded and wonder whether a paradigm shift from model to metaphor may be helpful for capturing the complexity, contradictions and contexts that constitute girls’ and young women’s sexuality.

Keywords

Adolescents Young women Sexual agency Neoliberalism Slut 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank the members of SexGenLab at The CUNY Graduate Center (Stephanie Anderson, Kimberly Belmonte, Christin Bowman, Allison Cabana, Jennifer Chmielewski, Brian Davis, Hunter Kincaid, Marisa Ragonese and Karla Galvao Adriao) for participating in the analytic work for this response.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

This manuscript is in compliance with all ethical standards required by the American Psychological Association.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah L. Tolman
    • 1
  • Stephanie M. Anderson
    • 1
  • Kimberly Belmonte
    • 1
  1. 1.The Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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