The Doing It Debate: Sexual pedagogy and the disciplining of the child/adult boundary

DJ Mellor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores how the life course boundary between children/adults is constructed and disciplined in terms of gendered sexuality and sexual pedagogy. Using the debate surrounding the publication of the novel Doing It by Melvin Burgess, I examine the cultural field of literature for young people (sometimes referred to as the ‘young adult’ or YA market), seeing this field as a variety of sites where sexual learning occurs and where the boundaries between adulthood and childhood are governed and contested. Looking at reviews by adults and young people, and the re-branding of the book under an adult imprint, I explore how hetero-gendered transitions between childhood, teenage and adult are constructed within discussions of what and where young people should learn about sexuality. I suggest that throughout the Doing It debate an essentialized ‘male mind’ is assembled through claims to social realism, morality, and shared identity that are founded in a particular classed, raced, and heterosexualized, ‘hegemonic masculinity’ (Connell 2005). I conclude with a discussion of the possibilities and limitations of using literature in a liberal sexuality education.
Translated title of the contributionThe Doing It Debate: Teenage literature and sexual pedagogy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-454
Number of pages8
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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