Power Through Language, Power in Sex: A Historical Comparative Analysis of American Sex Education
Utilizing a theoretical framework and a historical and comparative analysis, this paper aims to investigate the origins of current American sex ed practices and understandings, concluding with a lesson plan intended to teach first year college students about consent during orientation programming. Drawing from sociological and queer theorists, the following text investigates the relationship between hegemony, discourse, and the body, as applied to sex education, dominant sexual understandings, and poor American public health outcomes, while comparing American sex ed to Dutch sexual understanding and education in the Netherlands. Investigating the enactment of American sex ed from the turn of the 20th century until present day in comparison to the origins and current outcomes of Dutch sex ed, reveals that sexual understandings in both nations are used to maintain a capitalist and patriarchal social order, affirming Hartmann’s Marxist feminist analysis that patriarchy and capitalism are separate expressions of hegemony. However, changed sexual understandings through discourse altered Dutch patriarchy and subsequently capitalism, leading to state sponsored comprehensive sexuality education as a result of a comprehensive welfare state. Drawing from contemporary feminism, the lesson plan intends to bring praxis to theory by considering problematic American sexual understandings, and providing language to promote safer sexual experiences and a culture of consent, changing subjectivity in capitalism and patriarchy through altered discourse.
Franklin and Marshall College Archives, Undergraduate Honors Thesis 2018
- F&M Theses Collection