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The silencing effects of the childhood innocence ideal: the perceptions and practices of fathers in educating their children about sexuality

Bennett, Clare, Harden, Jane and Anstey, Sally 2017. The silencing effects of the childhood innocence ideal: the perceptions and practices of fathers in educating their children about sexuality. Sociology of Health & Illness 39 (8) , pp. 1365-1380. 10.1111/1467-9566.12591

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Abstract

This study employed Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to explore eight fathers’ perceptions and practices in talking to their ten year old children about puberty, relationships and reproduction. The fathers participated in face to face interviews which were analysed idiographically initially, followed by analysis at the group level. Interpretations were then developed through critical application of a Foucauldian lens of governmentality and biopower. The results revealed a tension between the fathers’ cognitions, accounts and behaviours. Their practices were largely characterised by silence yet they reported positive attitudes towards children's sexuality education and perceived themselves as equipped and willing to take on the role of sexuality educator. They also reported enjoying open relationships with their children. Interpretations centred on contradictions and conflict between the majority of the fathers’ aspirations and the compelling nature of the childhood innocence discourse as a technology of governmentality. Whilst all of the fathers felt that it was in their children's interests to learn about sexuality, all but one adhered to hegemonic protective discourses and unquestioningly integrated their normalising effects into their fathering practices which, it is argued, may paradoxically render their children more vulnerable both now and in the future.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 0141-9889
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 August 2017
Date of Acceptance: 26 March 2017
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2019 14:04
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/103514

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