Sexuality and Self-Care Among the Youth of Antofagasta, Chile, Within the Context of Cultural Change

Beatriz Cofré Espinoza


In this article I provide results obtained from a hermeneutic and interpretative analysis of 27 semi-structured interviews conducted with secondary school students, 12 females and 15 males, between the ages of 15 and 17 years about their sexuality, in Antofagasta, a copper mining city located in northern Chile. The analysis focuses on their stance in relation to the prevailing norms of the local society, which shape their sexuality and their link to prevention and self-care, within a specific sociocultural context of mining and a general context of current cultural change in Chile.

Two important points arise from the investigation. First, the families of the participants of the study transmitted traditional gender ideologies, with a restrictive model of upbringing in terms of sexuality, especially amongst women. Consequently, for both, men and women, their sexuality is shaped by fear of pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and the possibility of being discovered having sex. Thus, fear becomes a central factor in the organization of sexual behavior and in turn hinders the experience of a pleasant and full-filling sexuality.

Second, participants' discourses also attest to families' changing attitudes towards women and sexuality, which is reflected in the relaxation of traditional gender roles, and growing similarities between the life courses of women and men. Consequently, we see women planning for motherhood later in life, placing a greater emphasis on the value and preparation of paid employment, and the acknowledgment of the legitimacy of their sexual desires, which reflects that women are focusing on their needs when making decisions about sexuality.



youth; sexuality; gender; hermeneutics, cultural change; interviews

Copyright (c) 2014 Beatriz Cofré Espinoza

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