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Journal Article

Sexuality and Gender in Children's Daily Worlds

Barrie Thorne and Zella Luria
Social Problems
Vol. 33, No. 3 (Feb., 1986), pp. 176-190
DOI: 10.2307/800703
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/800703
Page Count: 15
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Sexuality and Gender in Children's Daily Worlds
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Abstract

This paper analyzes relationships between sexuality and gender in the experiences of nine to eleven year-old children, based on participant observation in four different elementary schools. Children's gender arrangements help lay the foundation for the more overtly sexual scripts of adolescence and adulthood. Extensive segregation between girls and boys, and distinctive social relations within their separate groups, provide gender-differentiated contexts for learning. Groups of boys experience shared excitement and bonding focused on public rule transgression. Girls are organized in friendship pairs linked in shifting coalitions and bond more through mutual self-disclosure; they teach and learn strategies for maintaining and ending intimacy. Heterosexual teasing ("like"; "goin' with") and rituals like "chase and kiss" heighten gender boundaries. Separate gender groups - which sustain somewhat different meanings of the sexual - and ritualized and asymmetric relations between girls and boys, prepare the way for the sexual scripts of early adolescence.

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