Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Thesis Post

We're finally here. I can talk a little bit about my thesis and what has been consuming my life for awhile! Why? Because, if you're reading this in the morning, then I'm defending it as we speak. 

Before I get into anything, please be warned: I am discussing sexuality. There isn't anything graphic here, but if the topic makes you uncomfortable please navigate away from the page. If you're under the age of 18, please go here instead.

Onward, then!

When I say recreation, what do you think? And if I say recreational sex, now what? Two different things? This, in an itty bitty nutshell {my paper is 80 pages, and counting}, is what I studied. How do teens think about, interpret, and experience sexual pleasure? How do they remember their experiences? And how do they reconcile their experiences with other things like peer pressure, parental and societal expectations, religious beliefs, etc?

A little bit of background: my thesis consists of two articles, one focusing on recreational sex in terms of recreation, leisure and pleasure, and the other focusing on gendered sexual pleasure.

My original basis for this was the academic idea of recreation. Or, that which is chosen for its own sake and enjoyed. So, we're talking about sex for the sake of sexual pleasure. Because you want to, and because you enjoy it. 

So, the first article discusses the above ideas and the different contexts that teens use to explain recreational sex. People, teens included experience things differently, and although we might be able to discuss trends in a general way, each person is nuanced in how they experience and react to sexual pleasure. For example, some people might find having a partner highly important. Others may not. Some might find that religious background plays a role. Others might not. Some might value particular activities over others, and some have very specific ideas about what sex is, and what it is not. In this article I discussed all of these things. In essence, this article compares sexual activity to more traditional recreational pursuits like reading, hiking, running, playing tennis, etc. It was designed to tease out the nuances of these meanings, and help me to understand whether or not we can even discuss sexual pleasure in this way, and if we can, what are the parameters? 

The second article focuses exclusively on gendered sexual pleasure and experiences. This is a pretty popular and widely discussed topic. Have you ever heard of the double-standard for women? That is, that females are a) not supposed to deviate from a specific sexual script (inside marriage or a relationship, only supposed to derive pleasure from certain things, not supposed to be vocal) but b) are often expected also to please men by doing things from a that are not accepted. I discuss these issues in this article, in addition to other issues like language and the prevalence of sexual assault to teenage girls. Its a huge issue and its tied to society's expectations of women. There are still people who believe that women who are raped, especially by those whom they know, are somehow to blame for leading on their partners or not protesting loud enough. The latter is actually written into some of our laws, at least in Texas.

Want to know more? Feel free to post a comment or shoot me an e-mail. I'm not an expert, but I do know a whole lotta good resources and I'm also happy to just chat about my study. It was a pretty cool project to work on, and I am very excited to start submitting articles!

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