16 Pages

Female Adolescent Sexuality: An Argument for a Developmental Perspective on the New View of Women’s Sexual Problems

Now imagine this same young woman’s story told in a different con­ text. Rather than coming to a therapist’s office to seek help with sexual problems, imagine this sixteen-year-old, white, middle class adoles­ cent girl walking down the corridor of her high school. Rather than identifying her own experience as problematic and seeking help, she has simply described what sexual experiences are like for her with her current boyfriend in a research interview. Would it occur to her-or to most adults she might encounter in her relational world-that she has sexual “problems”? That this description of sexual experience consti­ tutes sexual dysfunction? That medical factors are the root cause of what sounds like an impaired experience of her sexuality? As a re­ searcher, I have been privy to many stories like this one. While it is possible that the absence of sexual desire, pleasure and orgasm could have organic sources or be the result of drug usage or sex-related con­ ditions, this story is so common that we would then have to believe that there is an epidemic of medically-induced sexual problems

among adolescent girls. This story, which, if told by an adult woman, would be interpreted as one of sexual problems, when told by an ado­ lescent girl is in some ways normative-that is, it is not an uncommon story about sexuality for a girl to tell.