Date of Award

Spring 2016

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts


Dr. Lisa Tillmann

Committee Member

Dr. Denise Cummings

Committee Member

Dr. Kimberly Dennis


The following essay provides an analysis of the gendered ideologies present in coming-of-age cinema, as well as a critique of heteronormative, patriarchal concepts that hinder female sexual agency and adolescent empowerment. More specifically, this essay will critique the harmful portrayal of female puberty as romantic, passive, and emotional in comedic coming-of-age cinema. This essay will be split into three primary segments. The first segment will consist of a literature review discussing the correlation between sexual desire and autonomy, as well as the importance of portraying female sexual agency rather than passivity in media and sex education curricula, in order to challenge female objectification and lack of autonomy. The second segment will analyze the concept of female as passive and male as active with an explicit connection to film narratives. This segment will feature both a quantitative and qualitative content analysis of twenty coming-of-age comedic films between 1980 and 2015. The third segment will offer an autoethnographic account of pubescent sexual expression, showing how the existence and expression of female sexual desire is impacted by societal ideologies throughout the “coming of age” years. Ultimately, this essay provides a definitive correlation between the portrayal of adolescent sexual desire in film and the overall view of female sexuality in society.

Rights Holder

McKenzi Vanderberg