» Posts tagged: ‘adolescence

image0012The excellent New Mandala, featured an interesting post discussing a controversial Thai television series about a group of middle-class Bangkok teenagers entitled ‘Hormones’ (Hormone WaiWaWun).

The author, Pasoot Lasuka, notes that the series, which has just completed its first season, has been controversial in Thailand. He argues that this is largely due to ‘its explicit portrayals of social issues that can be found in actual Thai high school life. These issues include, for example: sexual desire among students (especially through Sprite, a female character who is portrayed as sexually open-minded); the discovery of homosexual desire (through a character called Phoo); and the challenge to the school’s authority of Win, a male character who is depicted as having a critical mind’.

As noted in earlier posts (HERE and HERE), young people’s bodies are often important sites of development governmentalities. Hence, the concern expressed by the Thai National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission about the apparent ‘inappropriate content’ of the series is not entirely surprising. On the other hand, Pasoot Lasuka notes that the series is also celebrated by, for example, a critic from Prachachat News who considers the series ‘useful for the youngsters and their parents to learn what really happens in school today.’

In his conclusion, Pasoot Lasuka raises the question whether despite all the controversy Hormones is perhaps not reinforcing conservative values more so than offering any progressive content. He bases this claim on the observation that the rebeliousness displayed by the youth in Hormones goes only so far; it doesn’t destabilise traditional conservative institutions like the family and religion. In fact, the author notes ‘the series puts a high emphasis on the importance of the family institution in helping the youngsters in the series get out troubles. For instance, when Sprite, the sexually open-minded person who likes to fool around with boys, learns that her mother is pregnant, she becomes a completely different person by staying at home and help taking care of her mother. Phoo, who becomes so confused with his gender identity, is understood by his mother and his younger brother, and can live happily at the end’.

A point that escaped the otherwise excellent analysis is the title of the series. Does the title ‘Hormones’ not effectively suggest that any of the apparently ‘rebellious behaviour’ displayed by these teenagers should not be interpreted as political, because it suggests that this is simply the result of the condition of the adolescent brain?

posted by Roy Huijsmans

Talking about Sex (on camera)

Category: youth

14 Sep 2013

downloadIn a recent article in the journal Reproductive Health Matters, Erica Nelson and Dylan Howitt, reflect on the making and use of two short documentaries about adolescent sexual health in Ecuador’s southern sierras.

The authors note that Ecuador was selected as study site for its high rates of adolescent pregnancy (100 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19, vs., for example, 89 in Brazil and 66 in Mexico). In addition, where adolescent pregnancies have fallen in many other countries, it has increased in Ecuador from 14.43% of all births in 1989 to 20.34% in 2009.

Voces de Cuenca (2011) presents the voices of adolescents who were involved in a participatory ethnographic research workshop about adolescent sexual and reproductive health (SRH). It is a short documentary (8:40 mins) produced with the aim of ‘giving young people the chance to speak directly to those responsible for designing SRH intervention strategies’.

Tres Generaciones (2012) is based on longer term (5 months) ethnographic research. This documentary is slightly longer (19:38 mins) and was produced to function as a ‘jumping-off point for discussions on cultural and generational taboos surrounding talk and advice-giving on sex and sexuality within families’, in Ecuador but also beyond! Like any ethnographic product, the point is not to be representative and the three persons around which the documentary is produced were not selected with that in mind. Nonetheless, the three cases provide beautiful insight into how attutides, knowledge and practices concerning sexual health have changed over time, and also how ‘being young’, in terms of normative constructs as well as lived experience, has changed fundamentally over the past decades.

posted by Roy Huijsmans


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