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J Sex Res. 2003 Feb;40(1):4-12.

Gender matters: constructing a model of adolescent sexual health.

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  • 1Center for Research on Women, Wellesley College, 106 Central Street, Wellesley, MA 02481, USA.


This article illustrates the construction of a new model of adolescent sexual health, one that addresses the complex relationships between gender and adolescent sexuality. A review of sexual health models highlights the absence of gender; in contrast, research illuminates the significance of gender. This article describes the process of building a model of sexual health explicitly for girls, guided by feminist research on adolescent girls' sexuality and a "web of theories". It also describes the unanticipated challenges of making a companion model for boys and the ensuing shift from a gender-specific approach to an integrated gendered model of adolescent sexual health. Gender complementarity is defined and forwarded as a way to incorporate gender into a model of adolescent sexual health.

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