Incest, sexuality and Catholic family culture

Langlois, Patricia Pryde (1996) Incest, sexuality and Catholic family culture. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

Much scholarly activity has centred around sexual abuse of children perpetrated by Catholic clergy. However, comparatively little work has focused on sexual abuse of children within Catholic family contexts. This thesis explores the social construction of sexuality and gender relations within Catholic families in which incest has occurred. Particular attention is paid to: first, the significance of the gendered division of labour endorsed by Catholic ideology; second, Catholic ideology's rigid regulation of sexuality; and third, the importance of Catholic identity in the construction of gender and sexual identities. -- The theoretical framework assumes that women's experiences of oppression within a dominant patriarchal order provide an epistemically advantageous starting point for sociological research. Starting from the standpoint of women incest survivors, the thesis tracks the "points of rupture" along an emergent "line of fault" between Catholic ideology and the women's actual experiences within Catholic families (Smith, 1987; 1990). -- A feminist, qualitative, participatory action methodology is employed. The methods include a process of multiple, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions designed to encourage interaction and feedback among the participants and researcher, and textual analysis of official writings on Catholic marriage, family life and sexuality. -- Study findings suggest that a variety of practices reinforced Catholic family and sexual ideology. A gendered division of labour in families contributed to the disempowerment of women and children. Shame about sexuality, combined with the silence about and fear of sexuality in these families, contributed to the onset and continuation of incest. The thesis concludes by drawing upon the incest survivors' reconstructed gender, sexual and, in some cases, Catholic identities to generate a vision of gender and sexual relations which are more empowering for women and children.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/3981
Item ID: 3981
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 213-225.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Gender Studies
Date: May 1996
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Incest--Religious aspects--Christianity; Child sexual abuse--Religious aspects--Christianity; Patriarchy--Religious aspects--Christianity; Feminism--Religious aspects--Christianity; Sex--Religious aspects--Christianity

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