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Sexual antimonies and parent/child sex education: learning from foreclosure

Frankham, Jo (2006) Sexual antimonies and parent/child sex education: learning from foreclosure. Sexualities, 9 (2). pp. 236-254. ISSN 1461-7382

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Abstract

In the journal Sexualities, Jackson and Scott (2004, ‘Sexual Antimonies in Late Modernity’, Sexualities 7[2]: 233-48) express scepticism that current mores in relation to sexuality are increasingly liberal and ‘open’; instead, they suggest there are a number of antimonies or contradictions evident. One of the themes they raise relates to parental intentions (and ‘failures’) to be ‘open’ about sex with their children. I explore this antimony via data collected from parents about the sex education of their young children. I first describe responses to young children’s verbal questions about sex; the second section considers parental responses to questions raised by ‘protosexual play’. As the negotiations that take place between parents and children reveal, many interventions in this area are actually interesting inversions of a straightforward educational endeavour. Instead of ‘openness’, the forms of parental disclosure and foreclosure of sexual information enact a series of closures or enclosures in relation to the exchange of sexual information in the family. The article goes on to consider possible explanations and effects of these antimonies.

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