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The Hostile Vagina: reading vaginal discourse in a school health text

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Multiple discourses about vaginas exist in various sites in Aotearoa/New Zealand. School policy and texts express one view by discussing vaginas, when they are mentioned, as functional body parts for the purpose of heterosexual intercourse and reproduction. This paper draws attention to the tensions and fissures in a popular secondary school health text, and examines the meanings the text and images may communicate to young people about vaginas. This paper confirms the missing discourses of erotics and desire (Fine, 1992; Burns, 2000; Allen, 2001) in school-based sexuality education, and the heterosexist viewpoint (Hughes, 1996; Quinlivan, 1996) of many school curricula in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Additionally, this paper acknowledges the importance of the educator's role in supplementing limited text, and concludes that there is a strong justification for a more complex discussion of the vagina in school-based sexuality education, including an analysis of multiple representations of the vagina.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Auckland, New Zealand

Publication date: July 1, 2003

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