Teenage Dreams: Girlhood Sexualities in the U.S. Culture Wars Cover Image
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Utilizing a breadth of archival sources from activists, artists, and policymakers, Teenage Dreams examines the race- and class-inflected battles over adolescent women’s sexual and reproductive lives in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century United States. Charlie Jeffries finds that most adults in this period hesitated to advocate for adolescent sexual and reproductive rights, revealing a new culture war altogether--one between adults of various political stripes in the cultural mainstream who prioritized the desire to delay girlhood sexual experience at all costs, and adults who remained culturally underground in their support for teenagers’ access to frank sexual information, and who would dare to advocate for this in public. The book tells the story of how the latter group of adults fought alongside teenagers themselves, who constituted a large and increasingly visible part of this activism. The history of the debates over teenage sexual behavior reveals unexpected alliances in American political battles, and sheds new light on the resurgence of the right in the US in recent years.

About the Author

CHARLIE JEFFRIES (she/her) is a British Academy postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of History, Classics, and Archaeology at Birkbeck, University of London.

Praise For…

Teenage Dreams is a vital contribution to our historic understanding of the US culture wars from the 1980s to the present moment. This rich analysis uncovers a wealth of youth activism around sexuality, revealing how we might benefit if we heard the voices of youth who are typically left out of public conversations on their own sexuality.”
— Julie Bettie

"Teenage sexuality has long been a site of contention in US politics and popular culture. Examining policies and popular ideologies starting in the 1980s, Charlie Jeffries brings to light political and social histories that have long restricted teenage girl sexuality. Jeffries’ research into how multiple influencers of US policy have denied teen girls access to sex-positive education and information is as timely as it is informative."
— Rebekah J. Buchanan

Product Details
ISBN: 9781978806795
ISBN-10: 1978806795
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication Date: June 17th, 2022
Pages: 238
Language: English