Betwixt girl and woman: A qualitative exploration of Hispanic girls' perceptions and values about menarche

Date
2010-12
Authors
Garcia, Irasema
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Abstract

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the perceptions and values about menarche of pre-adolescent Hispanic females within the framework of Victor Turner's (1969) liminal theory. An emphasis was placed on how each girl experienced the socialization process of reproductive education and how each girl experienced the liminal stage of pre-adolescence. The sample consisted of 12 preadolescent females of Hispanic origin recruited from an elementary school in a large urban school district in Texas. The researcher conducted two rounds of individual interviews and a focus group session utilizing open-ended questions and prompts designed to elicit the participants' knowledge, experiences, and values surrounding menarche. In the analysis, the participants' narratives revealed four themes: 1) I Don't Know; 2) I Believe ; 3) Between and Betwixt; and 4) I Recommend . This study found participants received limited information regarding menstruation and widespread myths, negative feelings, and anxiety surrounding menarche and menstruation were evident. Participants identified mostly their mothers or maternal figures as their socializing agents, but some also mentioned female relatives and female peers. A social norm of privacy and secretiveness towards males was prevalent. Participants described menarche as a rite of passage in “growing up” and as a catalyst for change in personal awareness and behaviors. Participants recommended preparing young girls for menarche to minimize anxiety. The findings of this study supported the benefits of developmentally-responsive reproductive education and of affirmative socialization of girls before and during the liminal event of menarche.

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Keywords
Education, Social sciences, Adolescents, Liminal theory, Menarche, Menstruation, Puberty
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