Journal of Youth Studies vol:16 issue:3 pages:287-303
Teenage sexual identity is shaped within a complex cultural landscape in which the issue of protecting the ‘innocent’ (children/teens) from sexually suggestive images is high on the public agenda. Intimate relationships and sexuality have entered the public domain and are presented on the screen, offering audiences possible roles to play in reality. Trepidation of teenagers being ‘corrupted’ by sexualised media has urged many scholars to investigate this issue. However, sexualised, mediatised representations can also empower and emancipate teens who are often savvy, active and critical media consumers. We aim to study how young audiences (aged 14-19) in Flanders consume fictional sexual scripts, and how these scripts can help in the development and articulation of sexual identity. A qualitative approach was taken using 57 teenagers divided into eight, in-depth focus groups. Sexual norms and values, as well as the sexual double standard and sexual scripts were discussed. Talking about and watching televised sex has become less of a taboo among teens, but this does not imply their permissiveness is unlimited. Traditional norms and values regarding relationships and sexuality are still highly valued, and although most respondents are tolerant towards casual sex by others, they distance themselves from such behaviour.