chapter  7
21 Pages

Introducing a Critical Pedagogy of Sexual and Reproductive Citizenship: Extending the ‘Framework of Thick Desire’


In Michelle Fine’s infl uential 1988 paper, ‘Sexuality, Schooling, and Adolescent Females: The Missing Discourse of Desire’, she examined the “desires, fears, and fantasies” (p. 30) shaping responses to sex education in the United States in the 1980s. Fine’s work encouraged a ‘turn to pleasure’ in sexuality education research. This work focused on and critiqued Fine’s idea, elaborated below, of a ‘missing discourse of desire’ in the education of young people and of young women in particular (see for instance Allen, 2004, 2005; Connell, 2005; Rasmussen, 2004, 2012; Tolman, 1994; Vance, 1993). Less taken up, however, was a second major thread in Fine’s 1988 paper, namely the ‘absence of entitlement’ in which she argued that not only the absence of a discourse of desire but also the absence of “viable life options” for young women combined to produce their vulnerability (Fine, 1988, p. 49). Almost twenty years later, in a 2006 article, Fine, with Sara McClelland, revisited the missing discourse of desire, this time in the context of an educational crusade in the United States advocating Abstinence Only Until Marriage (AOUM) approaches to sexuality education. Fine and McClelland (2006) take as their starting point the observation that the adverse impact of government policy and of limited sexuality education are felt signifi cantly by young women “denied knowledge and left to their own devices in a sea of pleasures and dangers” (p. 298). Employing a framework of what they term ‘thick desire’, Fine and McClelland pick up on the idea of ‘entitlement’ in relation to sexuality education which was fi rst raised in the 1988 essay. Within a framework of ‘thick desire’ they argue that young people are “entitled to a broad range of desires for meaningful intellectual, political, and social engagement, the possibility of fi nancial independence, sexual and reproductive freedom, protection from racialized and sexualised violence, and a way to imagine living in the future tense” (p. 300). A framework of thick desire, they indicate, situates sexual well-being within economic, social, educational, and psychological contexts.