chapter  2
23 Pages

Over-Sexed and Under Surveillance: Adolescent Sexualities, Cultural Anxieties, and Thick Desire

WithSARA I. MCCLELLAND, MICHELLE FINE

In this chapter, we extend our earlier work on sexuality education in U.S. public schools in which we forwarded a theory of adolescent sexuality, thick desire (Fine & McClelland, 2006). We chose the metaphor of thickness in order to evoke the multi-faceted ‘nature’ of sexual desire and to underline our reading of desire as a product of intimate and social negotiations. In contrast to contemporary theories that frame sexual desire as emerging solely from individual motivation, behaviour, or fantasy (within the person or the couple; see Basson 2000, 2001; Brotto, Bitzer, Laan, Leiblum, & Luria, 2010; Carvalho & Nobre, 2010; cf., Kaschak & Tiefer, 2001), thick desire invites a theoretical and methodological intervention. It reminds us that bodies adhere with connective tissue to economic, political, historic, and psychological landscapes-meaning that desire never stands on its own. It is a concept we placed into feminist discourse to signal how bodies are linked to social arrangements, politics, yearnings, deprivations, and betrayals in public settings and that these connections-both supportive and restrictive-inform how young people learn to develop a sense of desire. Thick desire encourages researchers and policy makers alike to situate desire as an ‘entry point’ (McClelland & Frost, 2014), a window through which we might begin to notice the extensive web of factors in a person’s life, family, community, and nation when making evaluations and recommendations about how individuals can and should learn about, practice, and engage with sexuality.