Health education with teen girls: gender construction and their implications in the sexuality experience

Health education with teen girls: gender construction and their implications in the sexuality experience


Federal University of Pernambuco – Recife/ Brasil1

Research Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacy-2d Code

The adolescence, a period between 10 to 19 years according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is distinguished by the physical growth, sexual development, mental and social changes. It is a time that covers the process of identity construction, relations with friends, values, the experience of new roles and sexuality. It is characterized as a dimension of all life’s stages of men and women, the sexuality involves practices and desires related to satisfaction, affection, pleasure, feelings, the exercise of freedom and health. However, in the social context its experience is surrounded by taboos, myths, prejudice, interdictions and power relations that surround it and it is linked to gender representations. Gender refers to the process by which the sex distinction of male and female bodies are brought into social practice, in order to take cultural meanings. According to the social construction of the hegemonic gender in our society, the male represents the superiority, power and virility. On the other hand, the female is associated with the frailty and dependence. Since when they are little women do not learn about knowing your own body, do not touch, do not feel pleasure, moreover, it is considered the reproduction as a subject related to exclusively because of their nature. Therefore, these gender’s relations and its implications for the sexual experiences can become significant dilemmas for teenagers. In this context, health education in adolescence can be considered a strategy to promote the discussion of this theme, considering the cultural context in which the (as) adolescents are inserted and thus effectively helping to improve knowledge, promote reflection and change attitudes that expose them to health risks. The objective of this study is describing and analyzing the constructions of gender relations and their implications for the experience of teenager girls’ sexuality. This study was constructed from the data content analysis from field diaries and transcripts of health education interventions reflections with 34 teenage girls from the eighth and ninth year of basic education in public schools in Recife. Academic from the Occupational Therapy Program made these interventions in an extension project called “Promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health with Adolescents”. During interventions, games were used, prepared by the responsible staff, who mediated the construction of knowledge’s process on the subject during the health education interventions with the adolescents. The content of the transcripts and notes were submitted to thematic content analysis from a qualitative perspective. Data analysis directed to the impact of gender concepts in the experience of sexuality girls pointed out that the boy is usually allowed toa greater freedom in the sexuality experience, while the girl’s experience is controlled and is not always accepted. The boy’s experience with many girls is closely linked to the assertion of masculinity and social value of it. On the other hand, adolescents affirm the existence of a higher domain, with conduct restriction in establishing their emotional and sexual relationships. This perception that sexuality is freer for boys also manifests itself in the care of girls’ adolescents and the blockade to get involved in the matter. For the girls, men live more sex because to them, characterized as “shameless”, this theme is easier, since the sexual expression is understood as a constituent of masculinity. Moreover, for the girls, the less the girl have experience, more they will be valued and will have priority to get married. The explicit conceptions showed that gender issues do not express truly, what people are, but repeated training in the body of a set of behaviors, according to social and cultural norms that people should follow. It is understood that gender relations are constituted as a way of signifying power relations, establishing identities, beliefs, roles and values. However, the naturalization of predetermined behaviors based on the value of the hegemonic gender conceptions can restrict women’s behavior and thus limiting women to certain activities, which can expose teens to vulnerabilities in the physical, mental, social and emotional context. In this sense, the experience of sexuality of adolescent women, as the speech of participants is characterized by repression, by the distinction of actions and controls in relation to men; the prohibitions; as well as the lack of dialogue and clarification of biological, social and cultural events that are part of their life. In this sense, inciting the participation of adolescents in discussions about gender relations and gender expression is an effective strategy in health education processes with the public. In this way, it can contribute to the demystification of denaturalization and stigmatized behaviors known as “right” and the elaboration of life projects, favoring the protagonization of these girls, who often perpetuate and value concepts that put them in weakness and submission position. It is recognized gender as an impacting factor in the experience of sexuality of adolescent girls, restricting female behavior. In this regard, it is emphasized the potential of education of health interventions that address the impact of gender relations in everyday life, promoting opportunities for teenagers girls have conditions to be resilient and rebuild these views so ingrained. Specifically in relation to sexuality, it is expected that the data obtained in this study, considering the adolescent girls can support other health education practices with this theme, which considers thegirls active in the construction of knowledge, valuing their prior knowledge and allowing greater significance of these health practices with the public.

Keywords: health education; adolescents; gender; sexuality

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