Performing masculinities and femininities : Grade nine learners' construction of sexual identities in the context of HIV/AIDS

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

HIV/AIDS is a pandemic infecting and affecting people throughout the world. South Africa in particular has recently recorded high infection rates. In response to this high infection rates the government, the medical field, and civil society have joined hands in creating awareness. Despite the publicly reported increasing levels of people infected and living with HIV/AIDS and the HIV awareness campaigns, there are still high percentages of newly infected people. It was thus important to find out why people still engaged in sexual behaviours that put them at the risk of HIV infection. This study investigated how adolescents construct their sexual identities in the context of HIV/AIDS. It included how they view themselves as sexual beings, how they negotiate and present themselves in relationships. The study also looked at how adolescents perform their femininity and masculinity in the construction of their sexual identities and how this leads to power relation and agency within their relationships. A qualitative approach of enquiry was used in this study, and data was collected using various methods, such as observation, questionnaires, focus group discussions and individual interviews. The research was undertaken in four secondary schools in the Western Cape, these schools were selected through purposive sampling.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 90-98).