Are boys different from girls? Young people´s practices and representations on sexuality
Sociology ISCTE Lisbon, Portugal
The results of several studies point to the profound transformations that have been taking place since the 60s of the twentieth century, with regard to family, gender and sexuality, as the democratization of intimate life, the pluralisation of family life or the recognition of sexual diversity. Among the various changes that happened in the field of sexuality we find the approximation of the trajectories and sexual attitudes of men and women. Today, women live their sexuality in a freer way and open to new possibilities.
However, these changes are not equal in the entire world, not being accessible to everyone. The transformations of social relations that relate to sexuality are less radical than is generally believed. At the level of sexuality coexists a modern egalitarian discourse for women with a traditional one patent in the maintenance of the control of female sexuality.
Sexuality appears to young people as asymmetric, both in their periods of experimentation, in sexual initiation, in the emotional investment made, in the choice of partners, and in the spaces of sociability that allows. Boys and girls don't experience sexuality in the same way; they have different areas of manoeuvre and different moral pressures that fall on them.
In this communication we present some results of an ongoing research on the sexual trajectories of young adults for marriage and parenting. The data was obtained through biographical interviews, held in Leiria, Portugal, to young people between 18 and 29 years, belonging to different social backgrounds. We want to focus the analysis on practices and representations of young people about sexuality. We'll try to answer to some central questions: what is the meaning of sexuality for these young people? Do boys and girls have the same opportunity to live their sexuality? Do the differences between boys and girls when it comes to sexuality exist more at the level of discourse than practice? Does the sexual double standard still exist?