Unveiling Desires: Adolescents’ Hidden Graffiti about Sexualities and Romantic Relationships in Schooled Settings

By Joanne Cassar.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper focuses on a number of adolescent girls’ writings as they occurred in the form of graffiti written on the toilet doors of a postsecondary school in Malta. These graffiti texts are concerned with how their authors try to make sense of their gender identity and involvement in sexual activity and romantic encounters. They highlight the ways through which the acquisition of sexual and erotic knowledge occurs informally outside the formal curriculum, through spaces created and struggled over by students, who negotiate, contest and challenge their differences. This study documents the graffiti as subversive processes of learning, which reproduce and resist dominant discourses of sexuality and sexual conduct. It discusses the invisibility, voicelessness and non-representation of sexuality education issues in the curriculum. It challenges the silences, secrecies and taboos that besiege the area of postsecondary sexuality education and which afford very limited opportunities for adolescents to hear each other’s voices and to give and receive support regarding sexuality issues. The unveiling of adolescent perspectives on sexualities and romantic relationships point to the need for a deeper understanding of the emotional and overall wellbeing of teenagers with respect to gender, romantic relationships and sexual desires.

Keywords: Gender Identity, Difference, Adolescents’ Romantic Relationships Sexuality Education, Adolescents’ Sexual Development and Desires, Homophobia, Sexuality Discourses

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.179-184. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 491.089KB).

Dr. Joanne Cassar

Lecturer, College and Faculty of Education, University of Malta, Malta

Dr. Joanne Cassar is a lecturer at the University of Malta Junior College. Her research interests comprise youth studies; in particular female sexuality, gender and the construction of sexual identities in the contexts of educational institutions, popular culture and policy making bodies. Her lecturing areas deal with feminist pedagogic practices and with various religious and spiritual aspects of the human person. Her doctoral thesis, received from the University of Sheffield (UK), deals with a discourse analysis of the graffiti texts mentioned in the article.

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