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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » The discourse of "readiness"

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Author Topic: The discourse of "readiness"
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So in poking around with some education research, I came across a neat article on the "discourse of readiness." I'll given information about how to find it at the bottom, but because you need some type of way of accessing academic journals (ie a college library access account...), I'm assuming a lot of people here can't access it.

So the article brings up this "discourse of readiness" which is essentially how many sex ed programs simply say "wait until you're ready" without every encouraging discussions of what "ready" means. It's left as this ambiguous concept, yet it's emphasized as incredibly important.

It also mentions discourses around virginity and a "virgin defense" (it's seen as easier for a girl to say no to sex when she's a virgin, and she's seen as having less of a right to say no if she's not). It notes the entire label of "virgin" that is everywhere in sex ed and conversations around sex, is in and of itself problematic for teens trying to understand what they really want.

The main point of the article is how these discourses silence possible discussions of the importance of gender-stereotypes and gender roles.

So my question is, did you get the "have sex when you're ready" message? And did anyone every talk to you about what "ready" means? What effects do you think this had on you?

Because I'm me and an educational studies nerd, I'm really curious about responses related to schooling, but I think it's something interesting to talk about anyways.

On my own experience: I don't think anyone older ever talked to me about what being "ready" might be. It was presented as something I would suddenly feel one day and I would just know... I guess I did figure it out on my own, but I do think I would have benefited from some discussion of what "ready for sex" means. I know it's different for every person, but I've always found I understand my own feelings on any issue best after I've talked them out with others. It wasn't really talked about in my sex ed classes.
I also had the experience of having a partner question me at length about why I wouldn't have sex with him after I had had sex with an ex. He made me feel like because I had had sex with someone else, I shouldn't say no to him... I did say no, and that ultimately destroyed that relationship. The implication of everything was that because I wasn't a virgin, sex shouldn't be a big deal anymore.
So for me, this article definitely made me think of a lot of things. I encourage anyone who has time and access to it to read it.

Ashcraft, Catherine. "Ready or Not...? Teen Sexuality and the Troubling Discourse of Readiness." Anthropology and Education Quarterly. Vol 37, No 4. 2006.
Available through (with some type of account, most colleges will have one).

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