Adolescent girls living in Rustenburg : gender roles, gender relations and future expectations as women

Paxton, Rae-Julie (2005-04)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2005.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Arguing from a social constructionist perspective and using a qualitative methodology the aim of the present study was to explore different dimensions of gender amongst a group of adolescent girls between the ages of 14 and 18 years living in Rustenburg, South Africa. More specifically it explores and describes the following aspects of gender amongst these girls: (a) how young adolescent girls living in Rustenburg perceive gender roles in general and how they perceive their own roles in particular (b) their gender relations with other adolescents and (c) their views on and expectations of the future as women. The rationale for selecting Rustenburg as the geographical area of research is due to its semi-rural location. While rural communities are generally perceived to be more conservative than urban areas they do not escape modernizing influences such as the mass media. An underlying theme of the present study is thus to ascertain whether or not the girls in Rustenburg still have relatively conservative perceptions regarding gender. The fmdings of the present study reveal that the participants have broken away from conforming to traditional roles assigned to women and would like to combine new modem roles with existing traditional roles. It is also clear that the mass media has a considerable influence in this regard. According to the respondents society values .a woman that can succeed in being a good mother, wife and home-keeper as well as being a career woman. Most of the participants want to fulfil these multiple roles. The advantages of being career women, according to these participants, are that such women are independent and fmancially self-reliant. Regarding gender relations, friendships with girls and boys are of equal importance to the respondents. On the one hand sufficient common ground exists to interact comfortably with boys, while on the other hand interacting with boys is seen as useful in obtaining insight into the life world of boys. However, a general opinion held by the girls is that they feel more comfortable to discuss more personal and intimate topics with their girl friends. Relationships with younger girls and factors influencing popularity among girls were also explored as themes. Future expectations that are shared by participants are that they would like to complete their school education and attend a technikon or university to further their education. Their future career expectations cover a wide range of occupational choices. Most of the participants want to get married in future - the ages varying between 25 and 30. They would also like to have children but only once they have established a good career. Their main concerns for the future are whether or not there will be job opportunities for them in the careers that they want to pursue.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie studie was om ondersoek in te stel na die volgende aspekte van 'n veelrassige groep adolessente meisies in Rustenburg se opvattings m.b.t. gender: (a) hul opvattings oor genderrolle in die algemeen en hul eie rolle in besonder; (b) hul genderverhoudings met ander adolessente; en (c) hul sienings oor en verwagtings van die toekoms. Die studie is gegrond in 'n sosiaal-konstruksionistiese perspektief en het gebruik gemaak van 'n kwalitatiewe metodologie. Indiwiduele onderhoude sowel as fokusgroepsessies is onderneem met 10 meisies tussen die ouderdomme van 14 en 18 jaar. Rustenburg is as geografiese area gekies weens die semi-landelike aard van die gemeenskap. Alhoewel landelike gemeenskappe dikwels as meer konservatief beskou word as stedelike areas spring hul nie moderniserende invloede soos die massamedia vry nie. 'n Onderliggende tema van die studie was dus on te bepaal of die meisies in Rustenburg not steeds relatief konserwatiewe genderopvattings het. Die studie het bevind dat respondente nie meer volledig konformeeraan tradisionele rolle wat aan vroue toegeskryf word nie en graag nuwe moderne rolle wil kombineer met bestaande tradisionele rolle. Dit is ook duidelik dat die massamedia 'n groot invloed het in hierdie verband. Volgens die respondente word 'n vrou wat suksesvol is as goeie moeder, eggenoot en tuisteskepper sowel in 'n loopbaan hoog gewaardeer. Die meerderheid van die respondente wil hierdie meervoudige rolle vervul. Volgens die respondente is die voordeel van 'n loopbaan vir vroue daarin geleë dat hulle onafhanklik en fmansieël selfonderhoudend kan wees. Met betrekking tot genderverhoudings is bevind dat vriendskappe met meisies en seuns ewe belangrik is vir die respondent. Aan die een kant bestaan daar voldoende gemeenskaplike belangstellings om gemaklik met seuns te kommunikeer, terwyl interaksie met seuns aan die ander kant ook nuttige insigte bide in die leefwêreld van seuns. Die algemene mening van die meisies is egter dat hul meer op hul gemak voel om persoonlike en intieme sake met hul meisievriende te bespreek. Daar is ook ondersoek ingestel na die verhoudings met jonger meisises sowel as faktore wat die gewildheid van meisies bepaal. 'n Gemeenskaplike toekomsverwagting van die respondente is dat hulle hul skoolopleiding wil voltooi en daarna tersiêre opleiding aan 'n universiteit of technikon wilondergaan. Hulle het egter uiteenlopende loopbaanverwagtings. Die meerderheid wil in die toekoms in die huwelik tree - met ouderdomme wat wissel tussen 25 en 30. Hulle wilook kinders hê, maar slegs nadat hul gevestig is in 'n goeie loopbaan. 'n Belangrike besorgdheid oor die toekoms is egter of daar voldoende werksgeleenthede sal wees in die loopbane wat hul wil volg.

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