Title page for ETD etd-13514459731541

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Villanueva, María Isabel Martinó
Author's Email Address ealomba@vt.edu
URN etd-13514459731541
Title The Social Construction of Sexuality: Personal Meanings, Perceptions of Sexual Experience,and Females' Sexuality in Puerto Rico.
Degree PhD
Department Family and Child Development
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Allen, Katherine R.
Blieszner, Rosemary
Mancini, Jay A.
Sporakowski, Michael J. Committee Chair
Benson, Mark J. Committee Member
  • puerto rico
  • female sexuality
  • sexuality
  • ambivalence
  • sexual scripts
  • sexual discourses
  • women
Date of Defense 1997-05-06
Availability unrestricted
A qualitative study on a sample of 12 Puerto Rican women was conducted in

Puerto Rico. The purpose of this study was to explore the various ways in which

sexual meanings are created, changed, and modified as the nature of social

discourse and personal experience changes. The two theoretical frameworks that

guided the methodology and analysis of the data were social constructionism and

feminism. I assumed that sexuality is socially constructed, shaped by social,

political, and economic influences, and modified throughout life. Feminist

theories assisted in documenting the ways in which females' sexuality in Puerto

Rico is shaped by culture and by institutions that disadvantage females and other

oppressed groups by silencing their voices. The theories guided the discussion of

the contradicting messages about women's sexualities and their experiences, as

these women fought, conformed to, and even colluded with their oppression.

Analysis of the participants' written and oral narratives produced the overarching

theme of sexual meanings/scripts, along with three interrelated sub-themes:

sources and nature of sexual scripts, determining experiences, and social

discourses of female sexuality. Participants reported three institutional sources of

sexual messages: family, religion-culture, and institutions of education. Their

determining experiences follow a common thread that weaves a common story

line: the life-long struggle with the incongruencies between the social

constructions of female sexuality and the realities of these women's sexual

experiences. Sexuality is defined as being challenged and modified through the

participants' lives. Four social discourses of female sexuality emerged from the

analysis of the data: source of guilt and shame, vulnerability and sexual

victimization, ambivalence, and empowerment. A theory of ambivalence was

developed from the data as a means to understand the participants' process of

developing the paradigms for their own sexuality.

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