Mothers' constructions of daughters' sexuality

Anthony, Liezl Elona (2002-12)

On t.p.: Degree of Master of Arts (Clinical Psychology)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: HIV-infection and AIDS are major problems not only in South Africa, but worldwide. It has become evident that not only is HIV-infection and AIDS rife amongst the youth of South Africa, but the rate of infection is likely to increase within the next few years. Second to the HIV-infection pandemic in South Africa, is the high prevalence of teenage pregnancies. These have been shown to increase rapidly with more teenage girls becoming pregnant than a few years back. Teenagers tend not to use contraceptives and do not make use of their parents as sexual informants. It is believed that parents do not play an active role in the imparting of knowledge and sexual information. The youth and especially teenage girls' sense of personal agency are limited, when they are confronted with dangerous sexual situations. Furthermore, it has been argued that a person's socio-economic status plays an important role in HIV-infection, contraceptive use and pregnancy - with teenagers from lower socio-economic groups more likely to be the higher risk group. This study proposed to address the need for research on female reproductive health in all the diverse South African communities, by focusing specifically on working-class mothers' constructions of daughters' sexuality in a "coloured"! semirural area of South Africa. In the current study, data were obtained from ten women aged 32 to 55 years about their views of their daughters' sexuality and their experiences with their own sexuality. All of the participants were mothers of teenage daughters. The women all came from a semi-rural "coloured" community and mostly varied only in terms of age and educational level. All of these participants were from a working-class background. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with the women and using a feminist social constructionist grounded theory these women's accounts were explored and analysed. The analysis revealed that women still uphold the belief that sexuality is an entity that should be feared. The focus of mothers' discussions with their daughters centered on the dangers of sexuality. Furthermore the analysis indicated that mothers aspired to reduce the sexual dangers that their daughters face. They endeavored to protect their daughters by continuously subjecting them to various messages - such as "sex is bad", "sex and sexuality can ruin one's future" and "virginity is the key to successful womanhood". Mothers also strived to protect their daughters through constant scrutiny. However, mothers, in their efforts to preserve their daughters innocence, were unwittingly seen to endanger the girls. They were endangering their daughters by keeping them ignorant and through shaming sexual experimentation and sexual curiosity. A restricted focus on the danger and perils of sexuality is found to be extremely hazardous. It overshadowed all the other sexual experiences that women might have. The emphasis on danger portrays women solely as victims and as sexually vulnerable.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Statistieke toon dat alle seksueel-oordraagbare infeksies, MIV-infeksie, VIGS en reproduktiewe gesondheidsprobleme op globale vlak toeneem, asook in Suid-Afrika. Baie duidelik is die invloed van MIV-infeksies asook VIGS onder die jeudiges van Suid-Afrika. Daar word gespekuleer dat die aantal infeksies aansienlik oor die volgende paar jaar sal toeneem. Naas die MIV-infeksie pandemonium is die hoë tienerswangerskappe 'n verdere probleem onder Suid-Afrikaanse tieners. Swangerskappe neem al hoe meer toe met meer tienerdogters wat swanger raak as 'n paar jaar gelede. Verder maak tieners nie gebruik van voorbehoedmiddels nie en gebruik ook nie hulouers as seksuele inligtingbronne nie. Daar is ook bevind dat ouers nie 'n aktiewe rol speel om seksuele informasie met hulle kinders te deel nie. Tieners, en veral tienerdogters, se siening oor hul persoonlike agentskap is beperk en veral wanneer hulle gekonfronteer word met gevaarlike seksuele situasies. Verder is daar bevind dat 'n persoon se sosio-ekonomiese status 'n belangrike rol speel by MIVinfeksie, die gebruik van voorbehoedmiddels en swangerskap. Tieners van 'n laer sosio-ekonomiese agtergrond is geïdentifiseer as die hoër risiko groep. Die huidige studie het beoog om die leemte van navorsing oor reproduktiewe gesondheid van vroue in alle diverse gemeenskappe in Suid- Afrika aan te spreek deur te fokus op "kleurling" werkersklas ma's in 'n semi-landelike area van Suid-Afrika. Tien vroue het aan die huidige studie deelgeneem. Hulle ouderdomme het gewissel vanaf 32 tot 55 jaar. Inligting aangaande hulle sienings oor hul dogters se seksualiteit sowel as hul eie was verkry. Al die vroue was ma's van tienerdogters en afkomstig uit 'n semi-landelike "kleurling" gemeenskap. Die deelnemers was almal vanuit 'n werkersklas agtergrond afkomstig. Semi-gestruktureerde in-diepte onderhoude is met die vroue gevoer. Die "feminist social constructionist grounded theory" metode is gebruik om die onderhoude te analiseer. Uit die analise blyk dit dat vroue glo dat seksualiteit 'n entiteit is wat gevrees moet word. Die fokus van ma's se besprekings met hulle dogters sentreer op die gevare van seksualiteit. Die analise toon verder dat ma's aspireer om die seksuele gevare te verminder wat hulle dogters in die gesig staar. Ma's wil hulle dogters beskerm deur hulle gedurig dop te hou asook deur boodskappe wat die ma's aan hulle dogters weergee. Boodskappe soos "seks is nie goed nie", "seks en seksualiteit kan jou toekoms verongeluk" en "maagdelikheid is die sleutel tot suksesvolle vrouwees" is van die boodskappe wat ma's aan hulle dogters weergee. Alhoewel ma's probeer om hul dogters se onskuld te beskerm, is hulle terselfdertyd onbewustelik besig om hulle dogters aan gevaar bloot te stel. Deur hulle dogters onkundig te hou en deur seksuele eksperimentasie asook seksuele nuuskierigheid as skandalig en onbetaamlik voor te hou, stel ma's hulle dogters bloot aan gevaar. Daar is 'n risiko verbonde aan die beperkte fokus op die gevaar van seksualiteit. Dit oorskadu alle ander seksuele ervarings wat vroue mag hê. Die klem op seks as 'n bedreiging stel vroue slegs voor as slagoffers en as seksueel weerloos.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/52947
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