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What are Students bringing into Sex E d?. Understanding the Sexual Scripts and Emotional Experiences of Teens Elise Wakeland , MSW, M.Ed Candidate. Goal and Objectives .

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what are students bringing into sex e d

What are Students bringing into Sex Ed?

Understanding the Sexual Scripts and Emotional Experiences of Teens

Elise Wakeland, MSW, M.Ed Candidate

goal and objectives
Goal and Objectives

Educators who understand the sexual scripts and emotional experiences of their students are better prepared to meet the needs of teenage learners.


Through this workshop, sex educators will be able to:

  • Define the term sexual scripts and understand sexual scripts occurring during adolescence.
  • Understand the feelings of students surrounding hook ups and sexual trauma within adolescence.
  • Begin to apply this information to lessons on consent and healthy relationships.
sexual scripts
Sexual Scripts
  • Our sexual behaviors, sexual attitudes, and desires are dictated by a set of “scripts” that are used to organize and interpret sexual encounters
  • A cognitive schema which gives us a “script” or framework for how to act in sexual situations

(Garcia, Reiber, Massey, & Merriwether, 2012)

sexual scripts1
Sexual Scripts
  • Teen sexual scripts can be influenced by MANY factors





Religious affiliation

Past experiences

types of sexual scripts
Types of Sexual Scripts

Sexual Scripts can influence us on multiple INTERACTIVE levels


Individual Relational

The norms that guide sexual behavior at the societal, cultural, and subcultural level which help to determine the details (who, what, when, where, and how) of sexual encounters.

Utilizing relational and cultural levels to construct one’s own desire and fantasy

Individual interpretations of cultural norms and considers personal experiences, socialization, and desires to shape action in a sexual situation.

(Dworkin & Sullivan, 2005)

examples types of sexual scripts
Examples: Types of Sexual Scripts


Individual Relational

  • Traditional, gendered notions
  • “I like tall, handsome, and broad men”
  • “I need oral sex before penetrative sex”
  • Experiences of sexual assault
  • Loving and healthy sexual experiences

(Dworkin & Sullivan, 2005)

sexual scripts of teens
Sexual Scripts of Teens
  • Masters, Casey, Wells, and Morrison (2013) asked the question:
    • What do the sexual scripts of teens resemble?

Cultural Level



cultural level sexual s cripts
Cultural Level Sexual Scripts
  • Most teens have cultural level sexual scripts dictated by
    • Traditional, mainstream, hegemonic, masculine and feminine sexuality


“Men should initiate sex”

“Men want sex, women want love”

“Women should be less sexually experienced,”

“Women are to be desired not desiring sex”

(Masters etal., 2013)

individual and relational sexual s cripts
Individual and Relational Sexual Scripts
  • There are three groups of interpersonal/intrapersonal sexual scripts that heterosexual teens fall into:


Exception Finding


Masters et. al (2013)

conforming sexual s cripts
Conforming Sexual Scripts
  • Teens whose individual and relational sexual scripts mirrored the traditional, roles of men and women
    • Examples:
      • “Hooking up with her was great, but then she wanted a relationship. She was just too clingy. Why is it all women always want relationships?”
      • “I grew up with messages about Prince Charming… and what can I say… that is what I want! Someone to fall in love with”

(Masters et al., 2013)

exception finding s exual scripts
Exception Finding Sexual Scripts
  • Teens who accept the culture-level gender scripts as a given, and created exceptions to gender rules for them- selves or on finding partners
    • Examples:
      • “I’m not like the players who just sleep around with girls. I want a relationship.”
      • “I like having sex with people without strings, but I don’t want many people to know about it. I don’t want to be considered a slut.”

(Masters et al., 2013)

transforming sexual scripts
Transforming Sexual Scripts
  • Teens who construct their own individual/relational sexual scripts
    •  Scripts DIFFERENT from the main stream, traditional gender roles!
    • Example
      • “Sexuality should be mutually rewarding and consensual for both partners.”
      • “Guys tend to try to prove how masculine they are… But I just don’t want to do that. It doesn’t have to be like that”
how about the scripts of our lgbt students
How about the scripts of our LGBT students?
  • Limited Research 
  • Mutchler (2000) looked at the sexual scripts of gay male youth.
    • Adapt cultural level scripts
    • Seek out safe subcultures and situations which fit their individual and relational sexual scripts
    • Examples of adaptation to sexual scripts that occur for gay men
      • Safer sex: Gay men recognize the need for safer sex….which is integrated into their individual/relational
lgbt sexual scripts
LGBT Sexual Scripts

“Traditional sexual scripts fail to adequately theorize the complexities and contradictions in the erotic lives of gay and straight individuals, but they do provide building blocks from which sexual actors may write their own scripts for sex.”

(Mutchler, 2000)

hook ups
Hook Ups
  • Prevalence: 81% of undergraduate engaged in some form of hookup behavior
  • Multiple studies report the prevalence of alcohol use within hook ups as a means to initiate and progress a sexual encounters.

(Garciaet al., 2012)

feelings and hook ups
Feelings and Hook Ups
  • General perception that everyone does this and enjoys it. Research:78% of individuals overestimated others’ comfort with hook up
  • Positive feelings during the hook up
  • Predominant feelings after a hook up:

Shame Guilt Vulnerability

Regret Disappointment Worry

(Garcia et al., 2012)

prevalence of history of sexual violence
Prevalence of History of Sexual Violence
  • 25% of teens have experienced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse within a relationship.

12% of girls in grades 9-12

5% of boys grads 9-12


student experiences of unwanted sexual activity
Student Experiences of Unwanted Sexual Activity

Even when sexual consent is present  Sexual activity may not be wanted:

  • Peterson and Muelenhard(2007) found that 55% of females and 35% of males had consented to unwanted sexual activity

(Peterson and Muehlenhard, 2007)

feelings and sexual abuse
Feelings and Sexual Abuse

Shame Guilt Fear

Sadness Anxiety

Dissociation Anger Confusion



so what does this look like in the classroom
So…what does this look like in the classroom?
  • Davis (2005) suggests the following can occur in a sexuality class:
    • Individuals who associate the material (for any reason) with SHAME, GUILT, ANXIETY, and/or PAIN  Keep quiet.
    • Sexual extraverts, sexually liberal, and those for whom sex is associated with positivity dominateclass discussions

(Davis, 2005)

“If emotions are left simmering, unattended to, and unacknowledged, students can become distracted and unable to engage”

(Davis, 2005)

You have all just become high school students!! Wahoo!!

You are in sex ed and learning about consent.

pair up and discuss the following
Pair up and discuss the following:
  • What are your student’s possible sexual scripts?
  • What is your student possibly thinking and feeling during this lesson?
  • How might this influence their ability to learn the material?

Davis, N. (2005). Taking sex seriously: Challenges in teaching about sexuality. Teaching Sociology, 33, 16-31.

Dworkin, S. L., & O’Sullivan, L. (2005). Actual versus desired initiation patterns among a sample of college men: Tapping dis- junctures within traditional male scripts. Journal of Sex Research, 42, 150–158.

Garcia, J., Reiber, C., Massey, S., & Merriwether, A. (2012). Sexual hookup culture: A review. Review of General Psychology,16(2), 161-176.

Little, S., Akin-Little, A., & Somerville, M. (2011). Response to trauma in children: An examination of effective intervention and post-traumatic growth. School Psychology International, 32(5), 448-463.

Masters, N., Casey, E., & Wells, E., & Morrison, D. (2013). Sexual scripts among young heterosexually active men and women: continuity and change. Journal of Sex Research, 50(5), 409-420.

Peterson, Z. D., & Muehlenhard, C. L. (2007). Conceptualizing the ‘‘wantedness’’ of women’s consensual and nonconsensual sexual experiences: Implications for how women label their experiences with rape. Journal of Sex Research, 44, 72–88.

Perry, K., Gottwald, L., Martin, M., & McKee, B. (2011). Last friday night. On Teenage dream [CD]. New York, NY: Capitol Records.

Ryan, K. (2011). The relationship between rape myths and sexual scripts: The social construction of rape. Sex Roles, 65, 774-782.