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Young Women, Sexuality and Protestant Church Community

[journal article]

Sharma, Sonya

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Abstract Although Christianity's clout on sexuality has generally declined in Britain due to secularization, contemporary conservative Protestantism continues to encourage a conventional construction of sexuality — sex is only for the context of heterosexual marriage. Qualitative interviews with 26 heterosexual women and two lesbian women on how their Protestant church involvement impacted their sexuality revealed the pervasive discourse of a marital-confined sexuality and participants' sense of `accountability' to the group for carrying this out. Such accountability can result in a repressed sexuality that is oppressive. Alternatively, it can produce a `sense of community' that functions as a source of empowerment. The oppressive and empowering nature of accountability, however, can be difficult to untangle because of women's religious commitment and supportive friendships found in church life. Relying on participants' accounts, this article addresses the oppression and empowerment young women experience when they negotiate their gendered identities in relation to a marital-confined sexuality.
Free Keywords accountability; femininity; policing and sexuality; Protestant church community;
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
Page/Pages p. 345-359
Journal European Journal of Women's Studies, 15 (2008) 4
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)