Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

‘She’s not a slag because she only had sex once’: Sexual ethics in a London secondary school

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sarah Winkler-Reid



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Routledge, 2014.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


The premature sexualisation of young people is a source of intense public anxiety, often framed as an unprecedented crisis. Concurrently, a critical scholarship highlights problematic assumptions underpinning this discourse, including a positioning of young people as morally compromised passive subjects, and a disconnect between the reductionist framework and the complexity of young peoples’ lived experiences. Drawing from ethnographic research in a London school, in this article I argue that by attending to the everyday lives of pupils, a more nuanced picture of moral and sexual change and continuity emerges. Using the framework of ‘ordinary ethics’, which identifies ethics as pervasive in speech and action, I demonstrate the multiple ways by which young people define and act according to what they consider sexually good and right. In this way the analytical focus is shifted from passivity to activity and we can appreciate how young people today are evincing a sexual ethics of force and efficacy.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Winkler-Reid S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Moral Education

Year: 2014

Volume: 43

Issue: 2

Pages: 183-197

Online publication date: 27/03/2014

Date deposited: 19/01/2016

ISSN (print): 0305-7240

ISSN (electronic): 1465-3877

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/03057240.2014.893423


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Find at Newcastle University icon    Link to this publication