Monday, April 19, 2010

Teenagers and the "Silent Dialogue"

"Good girls don't want sex; what they really want is love." For teenage girls, the idea of sexuality has been defined as sexual behavior as opposed to desire or feelings. This is true especially true when a girl does express any form of sexual desire, it is looked upon as deviant behavior. Deviant being negative and unacceptable as well as socially inferior.

I especially gravitated towards the research methods that Tolman used in this study, The Listening Guide. The LIstening guide has been described as a feminist, qualitative, rational, and voice centered method that enabled the researcher to actively listen to the participants. Tolman talks about listening to the participants rather than "categorizing or quantifying the text of the interview." As I am intrigued by this method, I also question some of the validity involved with this method, probably based upon my own ignorance of this method. For instance, Tolman makes a point of describing her own social distance from the subject although they are both white and middle class. The she goes on to say, "as a listener, I can utilize my experience and knowledge as a woman who lives in and experiences adolescence in this society to hear aspects of a particular participant's experiences that might not be audible without it." This alone could lead to bias within the study. I suppose I am trying to negotiate my own feelings about this research method as I understand the claims within the study.

Isabel has an interesting (and disturbing yet unfortunately not that uncommon) history that should have been introduced to the reader earlier on in the paper. The fact that she was subjected to sexual abuse early on in her childhood, 8 years old, probably altered her perception about her own sexuality and others, even though the dominant culture also does a good job of this too. In Tolman's conclusion, she makes and essential connection to this very topic, "she has little lived experience with sexual relationships, perhaps because she avoids them." YES, this makes complete sense. She has been violated in the past and felt "deviant." These feelings lead to avoidance as well as resistance. Many teenager survivors of sexual abuse need specific care to restore their sense of self. I feel that since Isabel has not dealt with this trauma that took place when she was 8, a lot of her ideas on sexuality have developed differently than others her own age. Again, this is just based on what I found and my own bias ;)

The other part of the study that needs to be addressed is the participants used within the study. Tolman chose to interview a 17 year old, White, middle class teenager in one 2 hour interview. I am assuming, based on the text, that there was no prior survey or initial interview. I wonder if the researcher chose the participant or the participant chose the research project. Anyway, Tolman points out that "the fact that she is White and middle class matters, because the ways that we talk about girls' sexuality are largely determined by their race and class." The media along with dominant culture have created this notion that White, middle class girls are "asexual" while lower or under class girls are "sexual." This could be form many reasons, and I have a few ideas but no solid evidence to back up my assumptions (think of Marco's presentation). While reading this study, I kept thinking of the movies Quinceanera and Real Woman Have Curves which both look at teenage Latinas in America as they navigate life and their own sexuality.

Both of these movies are great!


Eva said...

i appriciate your addressing of the fact that her abuse has a big effect in who she became and how she thinks and deals with her sexual self.

im a little worried that many poeple are going to miss this point

i would go a step furthur and say that becasue she obiously hasn't recovered from it, even so many years later, she would not be the ideal interviewee becasue of her biases because they are just that- biases

Samantha said...

I LOVED the video with the women who strip down to finish their daily work. I was disappointed the mother did not also because their point so clear! and when her scar from her daughters birth was pointed out she didnt say it with pride. I believe some people have different views of beauty. i go with the video and think courage, confidence, and pride are more beautiful than anything. :)I see some people have pride in their scars, because they say they have a story to tell, and I also think that is wonderful.