"Be sexy but not sexual. Don't be a prude but don't be a slut. These are the cultural messages that rain down on teenage girls. In movies and magazines, in music and advice columns, girls are portrayed as the object or the victim of someone else's desire - but virtually never as people with acceptable sexual feelings of their own. What teenage girls make of these contradictory messages, and what they make of their awakening sexuality - so distant from and yet so susceptible to cultural stereotypes - emerges for the first time in frank and complex fashion in Deborah Tolman's thoughtful and readable book." "A look into the world of adolescent sexuality, this book offers an intimate and often disturbing, sometimes inspiring, picture of how teenage girls experience, understand, and respond to their sexual feelings, and of how society mediates, shapes, and distorts this experience. In extensive interviews, we listen as actual adolescent girls - white, black, and Latina, urban and suburban - talk candidly about their curiosity and confusion, their pleasure and disappointment, their fears, defiance, or capitulation in the face of a seemingly imperishable double standard that smiles upon burgeoning sexuality in boys yet frowns, even panics, at its equivalent in girls. Rather than trying to protect girls from sexual threats by denying their sexuality or sexual temptations, Tolman suggests that calmly acknowledging girls' sexual desire as real and normal can be an important way for parents to support their daughters' confidence in making their own decisions and resisting sexual peer pressure." "Dilemmas of Desire vividly evokes girls' perplexity as they negotiate some of the most vexing issues of adolescence, all the while convinced that they are the only ones with these problems. As a thoughtful, richly informed examination of the dilemmas girls face, this revealing book begins the critical work of understanding the sexuality of young women in all its personal and social significance."--Jacket.
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