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Black Women's HealthPaths to Wellness for Mothers and Daughters$
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Michele Tracy Berger

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781479828524

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479828524.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 25 June 2022

“Mom, Can We Talk about Sex?”

“Mom, Can We Talk about Sex?”

Daughters and Sexuality

(p.172) 5 “Mom, Can We Talk about Sex?”
Black Women's Health

Michele Tracy Berger

NYU Press

What are the things that daughters would most like to know about relationships, intimacy, and sexuality from their mothers and adult female figures? What is the social landscape regarding sexuality and what mixed messages do daughters have to navigate? Who do they turn to when they have questions about sex and intimacy? This chapter explores all of these questions. My research suggests a mismatch with mothers’ perceptions of easy and open communication about sexual health and sexuality with their daughters and what daughters express. Although many mothers saw themselves as more open and receptive to talking about sexual health (and health in general) compared to their own mothers, daughters did not believe they could get accurate, nonjudgmental information from their mothers. Many daughters talked to other women and female peers about sexuality and sexual health. For daughters who do not have other adults to turn to for information about sexual health, it is not clear where or how they will obtain knowledge about sexual health, STDs, and HIV-prevention information. I argue that mothers are using outdated “gendered” scripts that exclusively focus on daughters’ virginity. Daughters expressed the desire for information and skill-building around communication. Their responses to a scenario posed to daughters, I argue, reveal the ways in which gendered behavior shapes and constrains their expectations about male and female relationships and illuminates the micro-dynamics of gender.

Keywords:   HIV, gendered behavior, micro-dynamics of gender, virginity, mothers, mixed messages, gendered scripts, sexual health, communication, daughters

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