22 Pages

Cigarette Smoking and the Disenfranchisement of Adolescent Girls: A Discourse of Resistance?

WithMarjorie MacDonald, Nancy E. Wright

The consequences of smoking for women are of particular concern in light of recent observations that more adolescent females than males are taking up smoking. This chapter explores gender differences in the relationships between cigarette smoking and adolescents’ experiences of school climate and their relationships with the school and significant adults in their lives. The health effects of smoking do not appear to affect young men and women equally. The health risks for women are of particular concern in the context of recent evidence that adolescent girls are taking up smoking in greater numbers than boys. Adolescent girls who have low self-esteem are more likely to begin smoking. They may see smoking, which is viewed as an “adult” behavior, as one means to assert control. In resisting the discourse of femininity, smoking becomes a powerful symbol. Adolescent girls seek to create a “bad girl” image within this “girl poisoning culture”.