What’s ‘OK’ and ‘not OK’?: An exploration of the meaning(s) of young women’s attitudes towards and experiences of a healthy intimate relationship

Davies, Ceryl (2019) What’s ‘OK’ and ‘not OK’?: An exploration of the meaning(s) of young women’s attitudes towards and experiences of a healthy intimate relationship. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

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What’s ‘OK’ and ‘not OK’?: An exploration of the meaning(s) of young women’s attitudes towards and experiences of a healthy intimate relationship
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Abstract

Though our understanding of the problem of gender-based violence (GBV) has grown over the years, there has been limited focus given to the voices of young women. Our understanding of young women’s perceptions about their role, identity and the nature of abusive behaviour within their own intimate relationships, including the implications for their well-being, is limited. Using a symbolic interactionist approach, this research explored young women’s understandings of what it means to have a healthy relationship, and the negotiations of their identity and behaviour within their intimate relationships.
A regional study completed across seven secondary schools in North Wales, included a focus on an attitudinal survey (n=220) to explore young women's perceptions on gender norms and un/healthy intimate relationships, with a particular focus on their gendered attitudes. A series of semi-structured interviews were completed in order to gather in-depth information from 25 young women aged 15-18 years old, on their experiences of intimate relationships, focused on the progression of these relationships and the patterns of abuse experienced as part of these relationships. This included an exploration of the use of social media, including the gendered patterns of online and offline abuse, the nature of coercive behaviour and the psychological harm inflicted by such abuse, including the impact of everyday forms of harassment and sexual bullying in schools and beyond.
A thematic analysis identified two key points: firstly, the impact of gendered expectations on young women’s abilities to navigate the ‘uncharted territory’ of young intimate relationships. Secondly, within a perceived ‘post-feminist’ society, young women continue to face challenges when negotiating their feminine identity, in particular sexual ‘double standards’. Despite their ability to express attitudes supportive of gender equality, they demonstrated limited space in which to operationalise this understanding within their own intimate relationships.
The findings have relevance for policy and practice, and contribute to an emerging field of literature exploring the nature of young intimate relationships focused on the manner in which young women negotiate the conflicts inherent in contemporary constructions of gender. The findings suggest the importance of a comprehensive educational approach focused on promoting gender equality and healthy relationships across communities.

Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:37755
Deposited On:09 Oct 2019 14:08

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