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"Girl, You Better Go Get You a Condom": Popular Culture and Teen Sexuality As Resources for Critical Multicultural Curriculum

by Catherine Ashcraft - 2006

Teens encounter a barrage of messages about sexuality in popular culture—messages that shape their identities and schooling experiences in profound ways. Meanwhile, teen sexuality, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) increasingly arouse public panic. To date, however, schools do little to help teens make sense of their sexualities. In this article, I argue that schooling will grow increasingly irrelevant and ineffective if educators fail to address teen sexuality and popular culture. My argument is twofold. First, I suggest that sex education in particular must attend to popular culture. Second, I contend that we can no longer confine efforts to address teen sexuality and popular culture to sex education; rather, we must extend such efforts across a wide range of classroom and schooling contexts. Doing so is important for accomplishing three educational goals: (1) to make a wide range of curriculum (e.g., literacy, social studies, sex education) more relevant and culturally responsive to diverse youth; (2) to develop critical multicultural curriculum that interrogates social inequities, and (3) to indirectly create conditions that would reduce teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV/AIDS. To make this argument, I draw from my 9-month ethnographic study of ESPERANZA, a progressive peer-driven sex education program. In contrast, I then analyze how two popular films deal with issues of sexuality in different ways. I conclude with a discussion of how the insights from these popular texts might inform research and practice in critical multicultural curriculum and in educational efforts to help youth address sexuality.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 108 Number 10, 2006, p. 2145-2186
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12725, Date Accessed: 7/30/2021 9:47:32 PM

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About the Author
  • Catherine Ashcraft
    Western Washington University
    CATHERINE ASHCRAFT is assistant professor of multicultural education at Western Washington University. She is interested in how schooling, popular culture, and public rhetoric interact to shape student identities and educational experiences, particularly in terms of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. She is the author of “It’s Just Semantics?: Investigating a School District’s Decision to ‘Respect’ or ‘Value’ Diversity” in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, and “The ‘Trouble’ With Boys: Confronting Competing Masculinities in Popular Culture and Schooling” in Taboo: The Journal of Culture and Education.
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