Global Resources

Dilemmas of Desire: Teenage Girls Talk About Sexuality

Author: D. L. Tolman
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication Date: Jun 2002
This book is based on interviews with teenage girls in the USA about how they experience sexual desire. All of the girls were highly aware of the dangers surrounding sex including getting a bad reputation, pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, rape and violence. They have received these messages from parents and in school. Consequently, very little space is left for them to explore, act upon or even think about their own desires. Rather than being enabled to better protect themselves, they become disempowered and afraid in relation to sex, and are unable to assert what they want and do not want to do sexually. The interviews reveal that the girls who were less able to talk about their own desires were more likely to give in to pressures to have unwanted sex, and to have unsafe sex. The girls who were more aware of their own sexual desires were clearer about what they did not want as well as what they wanted, were more likely to have enjoyable sexual experiences, to be safer if they did choose to have sex, and to refuse unwanted sexual advances.