Between agency and uncertainty – Young women and men constructing citizenship through stories of sexual harassment

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Abstract

In this article, we examine young people's narratives on sexual harassment on how it is endured, objected, observed, and negotiated in diverse everyday life environments. The article is based on an analysis of thematic interviews with 36 young people aged 15–19 living in the metropolitan area of Helsinki, Finland. Altogether 23 young women and 13 young men participated in the interviews which were conducted at educational institutions as individual, paired or group interviews. We analyze young people's narratives on sexual harassment as stories of everyday citizenship and, and more precisely, as acts of citizenship. We have also applied the concept of respectability to study how young women and men construct respectable sexual citizenship. We found out that whereas female respectability suggests that young women should be able to protect their sexual integrity effectively, male respectability expects young men to effectively balance between different positions of masculinity. While young people widely condemn sexual harassment and recognize it as discrimination, the gendered ways of constructing respectability, however, maintain the moral double standard by which young women remain the gatekeepers of sexual consent and young men test its boundaries.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJOURNAL OF SOCIAL ISSUES
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Jun 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

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