Women teachers talk sex : a gendered analysis of woman teachers' experiences of teaching sexuality education in rural schools in the age of HIV and AIDS.
Motalingoane-Khau, Mathabo Senkepeng Crescentia.
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With the current scourge of HIV and AIDS among the youth in Sub-Saharan Africa, sexuality education has been hailed as the vaccine against new infections. This places teachers at the forefront of the pandemic as facilitators of knowledge. This study explores women teachers’ experiences of teaching sexuality education in rural schools in the age of HIV and AIDS. As a participant researcher, I have worked through photo-voice, drawings, memory work, and focus group discussions with eight Basotho women teachers, and explored how womanhood and teacher-hood shape and reshape each other in becoming a sexuality education woman teacher. I highlight the gender dynamics characteristic of rural communities and how they play out in the construction of sexuality discourses in relation to women teachers, and how such constructions create im/possibilities for women teachers’ facilitation of sexuality education. An eclectic theoretical approach, with an emphasis on feminist theories, informed the study. A qualitative research design employing a phenomenological narrative approach has been used. The findings show women teachers experiencing the teaching of sexuality education as a challenge. Their experiences are reflected as shaping and being shaped by their understandings regarding sexuality, and their positioning as women and teachers within rural communities. Challenges that create impossibilities for women teachers’ effective facilitation of sexuality education include the patriarchal gender order in Lesotho, cultural practices, teachers’ own sexualities and teachers’ fears of contravening the social constructions of good womanhood. I argue that Basotho women teachers are facing a challenge of negotiating the socially constructed contestations between normalised womanhood and teacher-hood and thus choose to perform the normalised womanhood at the expense of teacher-hood. The womanhood they perform shapes their teacher identity such that woman teacher-hood in sexuality education becomes ineffective. This study makes unique contributions to the field of sexuality education in particular and feminist scholarship in general. The methodological contribution lies in the use of visual methods to illuminate women teachers’ positioning in relation to sexuality education. While previous studies in sexuality education have been on pedagogy, this study presents a body of knowledge based on a gendered analysis of women teachers’ embodied experiences of teaching sexuality education and the meanings they make of their experiences.