Saturday, April 17, 2010

Object Lessons: Romance, Violation, and Female Adolescent Sexual Desire

Object Lessons: Romance, Violation, and Female Adolescent Sexual Desire

By: Deborah L. Tolman

In this reading Deborah interviews a 16 year old girl named Isabel who is considered "asexual" because she's white and middle class. Deborah picks Isabel from that background because females who are considered "asexual" are not in tuned with their sexuality.

While interviewing Isabel, Deborah decided to use a tool called: The Listening Guide which shows the difference between the researcher speaking and the researcher participant speaking. In the beginning of the interview, Isabel decides to compare herself to the character Celie from The Color Purple when she found herself. "And then all of a sudden one day, she sort of like broke the bonds just by, I mean broke um, this whole uh fear she had of herself, just by looking, she had like a mirror and she was just looking at her vagina, and just broke everything."

Throughout the reading it seemed as though whenever Isabel was asked a question she could not fully respond or give a truthful answer. For example when Deborah asked her if she felt sexy, she couldn't quite answer the question but answered by stating what she felt others thought of her. I feel like when she was asked what it feels like to be sexy that she was being kind of sarcastic a bit by her answer. "Oh, it's so wonderful. And sometimes, like once in awhile, on a really good day, when I'm in a very good mood, it happens in real life, where I just feel sexy and I know that everyone must be looking at me. "

I understood every point that Deborah was making in the reading but one thing that stood out to me tht I didn't quite understand was the point of being quiet. At the end of the reading in Deborah's conclusion she states that opening up when educating the girls about sexual health but not just teaching them the basic things but by also letting them know how our sexuality can make us more resilient and by helping them find their exotic voices so that they are "no longer dependable for bearing the responsibility to control boys' 'raging hormones' ".

I just feel as though not telling young females or teaching females more about sexuality and being more open is just going to continue to make society the same, by having males be more dominant in everything. For example, masturbation, how for females it is hardly seen because it isn't 'ladylike' or its 'dirty' but when it comes to males it is seen as a transition in puberty or even humorous. I feel like keeping certain information away from younger females does not help become in tune with their sexual side.


Eva said...

i completely agree- i love the example you gave of masturbation

i remember being at a sleepover then i was fourteen and halfway through the night the birthday girl woke us all up and struggled to tell us the horrible feeling she just experienced, and she couldn't even say the word masturbation, like it was a curse

Alexandra Berard said...

It's so true, how boys are so open about masturbation, and girls have to hide it.

carey said...

I think, and I can be wrong, when I read the part about silence it was my understanding that Tolman was referring to the silent dialogue that often exists among teenage girls. Basically, girls are "programmed" not to talk about or speak of certain topics, sexuality being one of them. Through the cultural studies approach to education and student empowerment, teachers (and others) can work to break the silence and create an environment where girls can feel comfortable to speak where they were once silenced.

Mindy said...

All good responses...I think it is important that parents talk openly with their children. I try to do this with my girls. I want my daughters to have healthy sex lives that are not about female objectification and male dominance.