Article

But Was It Wanted?Young Women's First Voluntary Sexual Intercourse

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Abstract

Existing literature on sexual intercourse is based on the assumption that if an individual engages in sexual activity, not self-defined as rape, then the activity must have been wanted by both partners. This study, using National Survey of Family Growth, identifies factors associated with the “wantedness” of first sexual intercourse for young women in the United States. Approximately 28% of respondents described their first sexual event as not really wanted. The most commonly reported score demonstrated a level of ambivalence regarding wantedness of first sex. Women who delay their first sexual event, who are in a committed relationship, and whose mothers have higher levels of education are more likely to report a higher wantedness score. Ambiguous sexual scripting, conflicting sexual messages, and the symbolic meaning attaching to sexual activity helps to account for the large proportion of respondents who reported that their first sexual experience was neither clearly wanted, nor clearly unwanted.

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... In the United States, the median age of first sexual intercourse is about 17, with boys engaging in sex slightly earlier than girls (Finer & Philbin, 2014). The common assumption is that, except in cases of rape, individuals who engage in sex did so because they desired it (Houts, 2005). However, empirical evidence indicates that even when young adults first engage in sex with a chosen partner, many of these sexual experiences are marked by the ambiguity of their wantedness or one partner acquiesces to sex (Abma et al., 2010;Houts, 2005;Katz & Schneider, 2015), with sexual acquiescence more common among women than men (Laumann et al., 1994;Martinez et al., 2011). ...
... The common assumption is that, except in cases of rape, individuals who engage in sex did so because they desired it (Houts, 2005). However, empirical evidence indicates that even when young adults first engage in sex with a chosen partner, many of these sexual experiences are marked by the ambiguity of their wantedness or one partner acquiesces to sex (Abma et al., 2010;Houts, 2005;Katz & Schneider, 2015), with sexual acquiescence more common among women than men (Laumann et al., 1994;Martinez et al., 2011). Following Conroy et al. (2015), we define sexual acquiescence as "lack of resistance to unwanted sexual activity" (p. ...
... Research suggests that a significant share of Americans, particularly women, acquiesced to their first sexual intercourse (Abma et al., 1998;Houts, 2005;Laumann et al., 1994;Weitzman & Mallory, 2019). Analysis of representative data from the National Health and Social Life Survey suggested that about a quarter (24.5%) of women reported not wanting their first intercourse to happen, although they were not forced into it; instead, many reported acquiescing because of feelings for their sexual partner or pressure from their peers (Laumann et al., 1994). ...
Article
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Working from a life course perspective, we examined how acquiescence (i.e., “lack of resistance”) to an unwanted (i.e., “without experiencing a concomitant desire”) first sexual experience was related to health and well-being in late life. Data were drawn from the second wave of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (2010/11). The sample included 2558 older adults ages 62–99 (1182 men and 1376 women). Results from regression models suggested those respondents whose first sex was acquiesced reported higher levels of psychological distress and poorer physical health during late life than respondents whose first sex was wanted. Results from generalized structural equation modeling analysis further suggested that the association between acquiesced first sex and late-life health operated through adulthood socioeconomic status but not through marital relationships. We did not find gender differences in these processes.
... Further, males are more likely than females to report that they and their partner were equally willing at FTI; females more frequently report that they were forced into sex (Dickson et al., 1998). In another study, about a quarter of females who reported that their FTI was consensual indicated that it was "not really wanted" (Abma et al., 1998;Houts, 2005). Therefore, males tend to have more positive affective reactions to FTI than females. ...
... We examined whether contextual factors associated with other affective reactions at FTI also apply to feelings of internal sexual consent. Previous research has indicated that positive feelings-as evidenced by increased pleasure or readiness and decreased anxiety, guilt, or regretare associated with being male, being older at FTI, having a younger FTI partner, not consuming alcohol at FTI, planning the FTI, using a condom at FTI, and using an effective contraception method at FTI (Houts, 2005;Sprecher et al., 1995;Symons et al., 2014). Researchers have also found that verbal and nonverbal external consent communication are positively associated with internal sexual consent feelings (Walsh et al., 2019;Willis, Blunt-Vinti, & Jozkowski, 2019). ...
... Identifying and understanding the predictors of sexual consent and other positive feelings at FTI is important because early sexual experiences can have long-lasting effects on sexual health (Reissing et al., 2012;Wagman et al., 2009). Consistent with the extant literature on predictors of affective reactions to FTI (Houts, 2005;Sprecher et al., 1995;Symons et al., 2014), feelings of internal sexual consent at FTI were positively associated with being male, being older at FTI, having a younger FTI partner, being in a committed relationship with the FTI partner, not using alcohol or drugs at FTI, having planned the FTI, and having used a condom or hormonal contraceptive method at FTI. Each of these contextual factors are known to be associated with other positive feelings at FTI (e.g. ...
Article
Objectives We investigated whether the context of first-time intercourse (FTI) was associated with internal consent feelings and external consent communication at FTI. Method College students (n = 1020) from universities in Canada and the United States retrospectively reported on their FTI. Results Using structural equation modeling, we found that the context of participants’ FTI (e.g. age, contraceptive use) predicted their internal consent, which in turn predicted their external consent communication. Conclusions Sexual health education should highlight these contextual correlates of sexual consent at FTI. Despite the cultural primacy of FTI, consent should also be prioritized for other early sexual experiences.
... A third possibility is that women who reported being persuaded into first-sex were referring to what has been termed willing but unwanted first-sex (Abma et al., 1998). Houts (2005) has argued that we reach a "deeper understanding of women's first coitus by reassessing the misperception that voluntary consent always equates with a wanted experience" (p. 1099). ...
... Indeed, around a quarter of women's voluntary first-sex experiences are unwanted. For example, the 1995 U.S. National Survey of Family Growth found that 28% of women surveyed reported that their first voluntary sexual intercourse was "not really wanted" (Houts, 2005). Reasons for doing this appear to be likely to include maintaining a relationship (O'Sullivan & Allgeier, 1998), avoiding hurting a partner's feelings, and conforming to peer expectations and pressure (Laumann, 1996;Sprecher et al., 1994). ...
... A final, related possibility is that participants used the term persuaded first-sex to refer to willing first-sex that was simultaneously wanted and unwanted, which Houts (2005) noted appeared to characterize around 20% of women's first-sex experiences. It is clear that further research is needed to determine what participants meant by persuaded sex, to explore whether this can be understood in the dual frameworks of willingness and wantedness, and to examine the discourses that are used to describe it. ...
Article
The effects of nonconsensual first experiences of sexual intercourse in women are understudied. This was investigated in 3,875 adult women of whom 6.7% reported “persuaded” first-sex and 0.8% reported forced first-sex. Compared with willing first-sex, both forced and “persuaded” first-sex occurred earlier, involved a greater age difference between partners, and were associated with more lifetime sexual partners and some measures of worse psychological well-being. In addition, “persuaded” first-sex was associated with worse general physical health. “Persuaded” first-sex and its relation to health need to be better understood, along with how culture influences women’s experiences of first-sex.
... The masculine sexual script is designed so that women have little space for sexual expression and are provided with no effective wording with which to decline sex. Therefore, as Houts comments, "heterosexual relations exist within a social context of male domination and sexual inequality" (Houts, 2005(Houts, : 1088; also see Holland et al. 1998b). Moreover, it has been found that the more a girl adheres to feminine ideologies, the less likely she is to demonstrate sexual autonomy, the more disempowered she will feel, and the less safe she will be in sexual relationships (Levine, 2002;Holland et al., 1998b). ...
... In researching girls" views, Houts found that 44 per cent of those surveyed reported wanting first sex rather than being ambivalent or not wanting it. This demonstrates that young women are affirming their "wantedness" for sex and desire and are increasingly displaying their active agency as sexual actors (Houts, 2005). Women are attempting to express their autonomous sexuality, regardless of criticism, through more equal sexual relationships and the increasing acceptability of solo sex toys. ...
... On the contrary, increased sexual freedom has rather heightened the link between sex and reproduction and young women"s concerns about becoming pregnant. The importance of this "safety" discourse becomes paramount as women can no longer rely on access to more traditional routes out of unwanted sex (see Houts, 2005). Sexual freedom must be welcomed but because femininity is traditionally at odds with desire and active sexuality (Tolman 2002;Levine, 2002;Holland et al., 1998b), women are hesitant in fully embracing it, highlighting its dangers, focusing on emotional well-being, and creating a variety of conditions dependent on safety that restrict their need to be entirely sexually free. ...
... Young women often voluntarily give-in to unwanted sexual activity (Houts 2005;Impett and Peplau 2002;Meston and Buss 2007;O'Sullivan and Allgeier 1998) to satisfy partners' needs, promote intimacy, avoid tension in the relationship, and fulfill relationship obligations (Impett and Peplau 2002;Meston and Buss 2007;O'Sullivan and Allgeier 1998). These unwanted sexual encounters often involve some form of verbal and/or non-verbal persuasion on the part of the male, creating more perceived pressure on a woman to consent. ...
... Research to date has typically defined unwanted sexual activity using behavioral categories such as sexual intercourse, genital touching, and oral sex (Houts 2005;Impett and Peplau 2002;O'Sullivan and Allgeier 1998;Zimmerman et al. 1995). The current study will use a broader array of behaviors than has typically been used in past research. ...
... However, it should be noted that, as adolescents, it is expected they would have fewer unwanted sexual experiences compared with older women who have had more time to accumulate these experiences. Unwanted sexual experiences are also common during women's first experience of sexual intercourse because many women are ambivalent about their desire to engage in sex for the first time (Houts 2005). Given that many women consent to unwanted sexual activity, the next section explores some of the reasons why. ...
Article
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We examined the relationship between learned resourcefulness skills and the manner in which undergraduate heterosexual women handle unwanted sexual advances/activity. Participants consisted of 150 females completing a set of questionnaires assessing general learned resourcefulness, sexual giving-in experience, sexual resourcefulness, sexual self-efficacy and reasons for consent. The hypothesis that possessing a higher general repertoire of learned resourcefulness skills would uniquely predict greater sexual self-control with unwanted sexual advances was supported. Physical contact with men, greater sexual victimization, more reasons for consenting, and less use of sexual resourcefulness skills all directly contributed to voluntarily giving-in behavior. Implications for sexuality education and counseling are discussed.
... Slightly more than one half (55%) of undergraduate women and more than one third (35%) of undergraduate men reported that they had consented to unwanted sexual activity (Sprecher, Hatfield, Cortese, Potapova, & Levistskaya, 1994). A survey of a large national probability sample indicated that 28% of the respondents did not really want to participate in their first sexual event, and the majority of respondents were unclear about whether they wanted to participate in the activity (Houts, 2005). Houts (2005) found the ambiguity surrounding individuals' wantedness of their first sexual act can be explained, at least in part, by ambiguous sexual scripting disseminated through peers and the mass media. ...
... A survey of a large national probability sample indicated that 28% of the respondents did not really want to participate in their first sexual event, and the majority of respondents were unclear about whether they wanted to participate in the activity (Houts, 2005). Houts (2005) found the ambiguity surrounding individuals' wantedness of their first sexual act can be explained, at least in part, by ambiguous sexual scripting disseminated through peers and the mass media. ...
Article
Previous research has identified that exposure to the crime drama genre lowers rape myth acceptance and increases sexual assault prevention behaviors such as bystander intervention. However, recent content analyses have revealed marked differences in the portrayal of sexual violence within the top three crime drama franchises. Using a survey of 313 college freshmen, this study explores the influence of exposure to the three most popular crime drama franchises: Law & Order, CSI, and NCIS. Findings indicate that exposure to the Law & Order franchise is associated with decreased rape myth acceptance and increased intentions to adhere to expressions of sexual consent and refuse unwanted sexual activity; whereas exposure to the CSI franchise is associated with decreased intentions to seek consent and decreased intentions to adhere to expressions of sexual consent. Exposure to the NCIS franchise was associated with decreased intentions to refuse unwanted sexual activity. These results indicate that exposure to the specific content of each crime drama franchise may have differential results on sexual consent negotiation behaviors.
... Research on the specific harmful contexts for (early) first intercourse has paid great attention to the importance of the characteristics of the relationship with the first partner. First-time intercourse that takes place in the context of a relationship is more likely to be experienced positively than in the context of a casual sexual encounter (Hawes et al., 2010;Houts, 2005;Sprecher et al., 1995). However, the protective power of a relationship is only realized when certain standards are met. ...
... Being in a steady relationship also seems to have improved the respondents' decision making and thus served as a protective factor, under the condition that no pressure was exerted by the partner. These results are in line with previous research showing the importance of the relationship context and of being in control of the decision-making process (Houts, 2005;Skinner, Smith, Fenwick, Fyfe, & Hendriks, 2008;Wight et al., 2008). The current study adds new knowledge to previous findings by framing these protective factors within the broader sexual trajectory that precedes first-time intercourse. ...
Article
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The experience of the first intercourse at an early age is a well-established sexual risk behavior as it is related to adverse physical and mental health outcomes. However, the diversity within the group of early starters as well as the actual processes that make early first-time intercourse (potentially) more harmful remain understudied. The goal of this research is to understand the mechanisms that make an early experience of the first intercourse either more or less emotionally harmful. Therefore, a combination of quantitative and qualitative data are used. The quantitative data stem from a population survey (ages 14-35 years; N = 705); the qualitative data were gathered by in-depth interviews among 24 young people (ages 16-18 years) with an early first-time intercourse (at age 14 years or younger). Quantitative analyses show that the age at first-time intercourse is positively related to the feeling of readiness. For the male respondents only, it is also positively related to the general experience of the first intercourse. For female respondents, the age at the first intercourse is only related to the general experience of it in interaction with the age difference with the first partner. Qualitative analyses show that much variation goes behind these statistical regularities. Successful early starters can be differentiated from problematic early startersbased on relationship characteristics, the preceding sexual trajectory, and the preceding sexual decision making. Practical implications are described, and recommendations for further research are made.
... have suggested that traditional female gender roles can impede the development of women's sexual resourcefulness in dealing with situations of unwanted sex. Endorsement of traditional gender role expectations encourages women to sexually satisfy their partner's needs, which may lead some women to consent to unwanted sexual activity not involving physical or psychological force (Bay-Cheng & Eliseo-Arras, 2008;Houts, 2005;Meston & Buss, 2007). Sprecher, Hatfield, Cortese, Potapova, and Levitskaya (1994) found that, among college women, 55% reported that they had consented to unwanted sex. ...
... These studies clearly suggest that consenting to unwanted sexual activity is not uncommon. Many of the reasons women give for consenting to unwanted sex highlight traditional female gender roles, e.g., to avoid hurting a partner, to avoid conflict, to promote relationship success and to accommodate a partner's needs (Houts, 2005;Impett & Peplau, 2003). Studies have reported links between frequent consenting to avoid negative relationship consequences and lower relationship satisfaction (Katz & Tirone, 2009), and also links between sexual compliance and lower sexual satisfaction for women who follow tradition gender roles (Sanchez, Fetterolf, & Rudman, 2012). ...
Article
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The present study investigated the relationship between gender norms and relationship satisfaction on sexual self-control. A sample of 246 heterosexual female undergraduates who had been in an intimate relationship recently or at the time of this study completed measures of general and sexual resourcefulness, sexual self-efficacy, reasons for consenting to unwanted sexual advances, endorsement of traditional gender norms, relationship satisfaction, and frequency of consenting to unwanted sexual activities. Higher general resourcefulness and sexual self-efficacy scores and fewer reasons for consenting to unwanted sexual advances were direct predictors of higher sexual resourcefulness scores. Women who were more sexually resourceful, had fewer reasons for consenting to unwanted sexual activity, and were happier in their relationship were more likely to report a lower frequency of sexual compliance. Endorsement of traditional gender norms and sexual resourcefulness, however, moderated the relationship between sexual compliance and relationship satisfaction. Less sexually resourceful women who strongly endorsed traditional gender roles were far more likely to consent to unwanted sexual activities, when relationship satisfaction was low, in comparison to all the other groups. Implications, limitations and possible directions for future research are discussed.
... have suggested that traditional female gender roles can impede the development of women's sexual resourcefulness in dealing with situations of unwanted sex. Endorsement of traditional gender role expectations encourages women to sexually satisfy their partner's needs, which may lead some women to consent to unwanted sexual activity not involving physical or psychological force (Bay-Cheng & Eliseo-Arras, 2008;Houts, 2005;Meston & Buss, 2007). Sprecher, Hatfield, Cortese, Potapova, and Levitskaya (1994) found that, among college women, 55% reported that they had consented to unwanted sex. ...
... These studies clearly suggest that consenting to unwanted sexual activity is not uncommon. Many of the reasons women give for consenting to unwanted sex highlight traditional female gender roles, e.g., to avoid hurting a partner, to avoid conflict, to promote relationship success and to accommodate a partner's needs (Houts, 2005;Impett & Peplau, 2003). Studies have reported links between frequent consenting to avoid negative relationship consequences and lower relationship satisfaction (Katz & Tirone, 2009), and also links between sexual compliance and lower sexual satisfaction for women who follow tradition gender roles (Sanchez, Fetterolf, & Rudman, 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
The present study investigated the relationship between gender norms and relationship satisfaction on sexual self-control. A sample of 246 heterosexual female undergraduates who had been in an intimate relationship recently or at the time of this study completed measures of general and sexual resourcefulness, sexual self-efficacy, reasons for consenting to unwanted sexual advances, endorsement of traditional gender norms, relationship satisfaction, and frequency of consenting to unwanted sexual activities. Higher general resourcefulness and sexual self-efficacy scores and fewer reasons for consenting to unwanted sexual advances were direct predictors of higher sexual resourcefulness scores. Women who were more sexually resourceful, had fewer reasons for consenting to unwanted sexual activity, and were happier in their relationship were more likely to report a lower frequency of sexual compliance. Endorsement of traditional gender norms and sexual resourcefulness, however, moderated the relationship between sexual compliance and relationship satisfaction. Less sexually resourceful women who strongly endorsed traditional gender roles were far more likely to consent to unwanted sexual activities, when relationship satisfaction was low, in comparison to all the other groups. Implications, limitations and possible directions for future research are discussed.
... Voluntarily giving-in to unwanted sexual activity that does not involve physical or psychological force is a common occurrence for young women (Sprecher et al. 1994;O'Sullivan and Allgeier 1998;Houts 2005;Meston and Buss 2007). Sprecher et al. (1994) found that 55% of college women reported that they had consented to unwanted sex. ...
... Using a diary study methodology over two weeks, O'Sullivan and Allgeier (1998) found that 50% of young women in committed dating relationships consented to unwanted sexual activity. In the context of first sexual intercourse, Houts (2005) found 28% of a probability sample of young women in the USA indicated that the sex was 'not really wanted', while another 27% reported an ambivalent level of wantedness. These studies clearly suggest that consenting to sexual activity that is unwanted or not desired, relatively speaking, is normative behaviour. ...
Article
Full-text available
Building on a recently developed theoretical model of sexual self-control, 178 undergraduate women completed measures of learned resourcefulness, reasons for consenting to unwanted advances, and sexual self-efficacy – variables consistently shown to be unique predictors of sexual resourcefulness. Additional measures assessed in this investigation included media internalisation, peer values, parental and school discussions of sexual topics, body image preoccupation, body image satisfaction, and perceived timing of pubertal development. Along with the aforementioned unique predictors of sexual resourcefulness, receiving more information from the mother about dealing with unwanted sexual advances emerged as another direct contributor. Also in concurrence with past research, it was found that women scoring lower in sexual resourcefulness and having more reasons for consenting were more likely to engage in unwanted non-coercive sexual activities, with greater media pressures, higher appearance orientation and lower learned resourcefulness having a shared impact. Implications, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.
... Finally, our research further validates the constructs of wanting and consenting in a diverse sample of men by providing prevalence, predictors, and motivations for sexual compliance (see, Peterson & Muehlenhard, 2007). While past research has largely focused on the sexually compliant experiences of women (Houts, 2005;Morgan et al., 2006;Peterson & Muehlenhard, 2007;Shotland & Goodstein, 1992), our data suggests that more than half of our sample of heterosexual men (61.3%) had been sexually compliant in the past year. Future research should continue to focus on the sexually compliant behaviours of men and women to allow for investigation into both differences and similarities between genders. ...
Article
Given that the prevailing literature largely neglects the unwanted sexual activity experiences of men, this study examined both prevalence and predictors of men’s compliance with unwanted, but consensual, sexual activity. Specifically, we examined whether traditional gender-role endorsement, belief in male sexuality stereotypes, and age predict sexual compliance among heterosexual men. Participants (N = 426 men) completed a brief demographic questionnaire, measures of gender-role beliefs and male sexuality stereotypes, as well as a modified measure investigating motives for consenting to unwanted kissing, sexual touching, oral sex, and/or penetrative sex. The reported incidence rate of mild sexual compliance (i.e. consenting to unwanted kissing at least once) in heterosexual men was 61.3% over the past 12 months. Results suggest that sexual compliance in heterosexual men may be predicted by their endorsement of traditional gender-role beliefs and male sexuality stereotypes. Moreover, men may be motivated to be sexually compliant due to motives of altruism, intoxication, sexual inexperience, peer pressure, popularity, and sex-role concerns.
... Finally, our research further validates the constructs of wanting and consenting in a diverse sample of men by providing prevalence, predictors, and motivations for sexual compliance (see, Peterson & Muehlenhard, 2007). While past research has largely focused on the sexually compliant experiences of women (Houts, 2005;Morgan et al., 2006;Peterson & Muehlenhard, 2007;Shotland & Goodstein, 1992), our data suggests that more than half of our sample of heterosexual men (61.3%) had been sexually compliant in the past year. Future research should continue to focus on the sexually compliant behaviours of men and women to allow for investigation into both differences and similarities between genders. ...
Article
We blend person perception work with queer appearance psychology to examine the relationship between body size and bisexuality. In an online survey (N = 472, Mage = 25.15, 63.8% women), we examined the specific traits associated with a range of computer-modeled bodies identified as bisexual. We found that average body sizes were perceived as most prototypical of both bisexual men and bisexual women, skinny, and fat bodies were more associated with clusters of traits that contrast with common stereotypes about bisexuality. Additionally, we found that bisexual men were associated with increased masculinity and decreased femininity relative to bisexual women, and found a general, though nonsignificant trend such that bisexual men were perceived as having heightened androcentric desire relative to women. Finally, we found evidence for the role of typicality as a mediator of perceived prejudice; less prototypical bodies tended to be perceived as experiencing greater prejudice based on body size.
... Media el deseo de complacer a la pareja y velar por el bienestar del vínculo amoroso, por diversos motivos (Muehlenhard y Cook, 1988;Guevara, 2002;Houts, 2005 La segunda condición para que el consentimiento permanezca en estado práctico, es la penetración vaginal en tanto práctica héterosexual por excelencia. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Tesis de maestría sobre el consentimiento sexual. Defendida en 2015 en la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
... Although U.S. population-based studies have documented Black women's' sexual behaviors and subjective experiences during their most recent sexual encounters (Herbenick et al., 2010a, data from nationally representative surveys reflect, by definition, the demographics of the particular populations from which they are sampled. Therefore, little is known about Black women's sexual experiences, desire, sexual pleasure (Threadcraft, 2016) and sexual wantedness (Abma, Driscoll, & Moore, 1998;Houts, 2005;Peterson & Muehlenhard, 2007). In our study, we used data from a U.S. nationally representative survey that oversampled Black women to: (1) describe the sexual behaviors reported by women during their most recent partnered sexual event (in the past year); and (2) examine Black women's partner characteristics, situational characteristics, and subjective ratings of their most recent partnered sexual event. ...
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence of sexual behaviors and experiences of Black women's partnered behaviors at their most recent sexual event. Data were from a subset of 980 Black women ages 18 to 92 who participated in the 2018 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior. Findings provide a sex-positive view of Black women and their partnered experiences, indicating a range of activities; most wanted their sexual experiences, experienced orgasms, and reported pleasurable experiences. These results provide a foundation for sexual health practitioners, educators, and therapists to improve societal knowledge about Black women's sexuality.
... Research has found that young women are themselves usually ambivalent about the 'wantedness' of first sex in particular (see Houts, 2005). In 1988, a classic paper on adolescent sex education highlighted the absence of adolescent desire in the discourse and described adolescent women as having a divided consciousness 'at once taken with the excitement of actual/ anticipated sexuality and consumed with anxiety and worry' (Fine, 1988, p. 35). ...
... Scholars differ on whether consent requires demonstration through an explicit external, physical action, or whether consent can be defined by an internal state of desire, or wanting. Indeed various studies have found that young women are themselves usually ambivalent about the 'wantedness' of first sex in particular (see Houts, 2005). Michelle Fine has claimed, in her classic paper on the missing discourse of desire, that '[t] he adolescent women herself assumes a dual consciousness -at once taken with the excitement of actual/anticipated sexuality and consumed with anxiety and worry' (1988, p. 35). ...
... Wanting is a distinct concept that refers to a desire or wish to engage in sex; consent may or may not accompany it. In fact, numerous studies in women (Bay-Cheng & Eliseo-Arras, 2008;Houts, 2005;Impett & Peplau, 2002;Katz & Tirone, 2010;Muehlenhard & Peterson, 2005;Peterson & Muehlenhard, 2007), and less so men (Ford, 2018;Vannier & O'Sullivan, 2010), have found that individuals often say "yes" to sex they do not want for various gendered reasons (e.g., to please a partner (Lindgren et al., 2009), to save face or satisfy peer norms (Ford, 2018)), including when under the influence of alcohol and other drugs (Blythe et al., 2006). Research has also shown that alcohol may be used as a tool to remove some of the stigma of "inappropriate gender displays" of sexual desire among gay, lesbian, and heterosexual youth (Peralta, 2008). ...
Article
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Intoxication can be a factor in unwanted sex, but research on the extent of the issue in both women and men is limited. We assessed the prevalence, correlates, and 10-year time-trends of unwanted sex due to intoxication among a representative sample of 4,279 women and 3,875 men aged 16–69 years in Australia and considered how these vary by gender. In 2012–13, 16% of women and 10% of men reported ever having had a sexual experience when they “did not want to because they were too drunk or high at the time.” For both women and men, this was associated with younger age, bisexual activity, and reports of lifetime injection drug use, sexually transmitted infections, and forced sex. Among women only, it was associated with drinking above guideline levels and ever having terminated a pregnancy. Among men only, it was associated with current tobacco smoking, elevated psychosocial distress, and poor general health. Compared with 2001–02 data, fewer men reported unwanted intoxicated sex, while there were no changes for women as a whole. Interpreting these findings through an intersectional assemblage framework supports stronger understanding of the multiple factors influencing sexuality and substance use with implications for promoting equity, safety, and sexual health
... Previous retrospective work demonstrated that it is common for youth who voluntarily engage in PVI at young ages to feel ambivalent or negative about their experience (Houts, 2005). In the current study, those youth with negative feelings about sex are classified as having conflicting behaviors and attitudes as they have previously engaged in PVI. ...
Article
Adolescents’ attitudes predict sexual behavior; therefore, attitudes are targeted in sexually transmitted infection (STI) and pregnancy prevention programs. However, attitudes and behaviors do not always align. Young adolescents who have had penile vaginal intercourse (PVI) and have attitudes supportive of PVI have two risk factors for future health risks while those with attitudes in conflict with PVI experience (i.e., attitudes not supportive of PVI) only have one risk factor, that is, early sexual debut. Rural sixth- to eighth-grade students in southern, central Florida who had PVI experience (N = 162) completed surveys about their sexual history, substance use, PVI refusal skills, and PVI attitudes. Logistic regressions found that longer time since PVI, never trying other drugs, and better PVI refusal skills predicted higher odds of attitude-behavior conflict; thus, youth with attitude-behavior conflicts have fewer predictors of sexual health risk than those without attitude-behaviors conflicts. Those without attitude-behaviors conflicts likely need more focused and intensive interventions.
... These youth were also more likely to indicate unwanted but consensual sex-in other words, these youth were not forced to have sex but did not really want to engage in sex at the time. Other studies have also found unwanted but voluntary first sex [33,34] although the focus continues to be placed on nonconsensual sexual activity. As has been discussed in prior work, our findings provide support for broadening our current prevention efforts to include content on reducing HIV/STI risk as well as building healthy and positive sexual relationships [35]. ...
Article
Full-text available
African American youth continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. Early sexual debut has been identified as a major determinant of HIV risk. However, emerging research suggests that the overarching context in which first sex occurs may have greater implications for sexual health than simply age alone. The purpose of this exploratory, qualitative study was to better understand the broader context of African Americans' sexual debut. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 African American men and women aged 18-24 years. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data. The mean age at sexual debut for the sample was 15.4 (SD = 3.3), and youth framed their sexual debut as positive (50%), negative (30%), and both positive and negative (20%). The majority of youth initiated pre-sex conversations with their partners to gauge potential interest in engaging in sexual activity, and all youth utilized at least one HIV/sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy prevention method. However, most youth failed to talk to their partners prior to sex about their past sexual histories and what the experience meant for their relationship. Key differences emerged between youth who framed the experience as positive and those who framed the experience as negative or both positive and negative in terms of their motivations for initiating sex (i.e., readiness to initiate sex, pressure, and emotionally safety) and post-sex emotions (i.e., remorse and contentment). Findings provide further support for examining the broader sexual context of African American's sexual debut. A more comprehensive understanding of sexual debut will aid in the development and tailoring of sexual risk reduction programs targeting African American youth.
... Perhaps coinciding with the increasing ambiguity of young adulthood itself (Arnett, 2000), premarital relationships during the second decade of life have taken on an increasing eclectic pattern compared with previous generations (Kefalas, Furstenberg, Carr, & Napolitano, 2011;Sassler, Addo, & Hartmann, 2010). As most young adults now delay marriage well into their late twenties (Copen, Daniels, Vespa, & Mosher, 2012), many individuals now have an extended period between their sexual debut (typically in the late teens; Houts, 2005) and an eventual long-term committed relationship. Although typical relational progression often follows a generic pattern of meeting at social events, before initiating romantic and eventual sexual behavior (O'Sullivan, Cheng, Harris, & Brooks-Gunn, 2007), young adulthood is now generally marked by what has been described as a form of serial monogamy (Regnerus & Uecker, 2011). ...
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This study explored the potential uniqueness of staying over, or spending the night with a romantic partner, as a relationship status. Using a recent sample of 2,304 individuals in romantic relationships, we explored how staying over might be associated with demographic, intrapersonal, and relational characteristics. Results suggested that individuals in “stay-over relationships” were similar to those in dating relationships and that cohabiters, defined as those who lived with a romantic partner in the same residence, were the most likely to differ from those in other types of relationships on demographic, intrapersonal, and relational assessments. Staying over in the absence of cohabitation was not associated with differences in relationship outcomes once controls were taken into account, but cohabiters who were not spending the night together did report lower relationship satisfaction compared with cohabiters spending most nights together.
... For example, Holland et al. (2000) describe young men's experiences of first vaginal sex in the U.K. as an opportunity to establish sexual agency, legitimize their masculinity among peers, and identify as having achieved manhood. In contrast, ambivalence is commonly reported by women in the U.K. (Holland Sex Roles et al. 2000) and the U.S. (Houts 2005), who report both wanting and not wanting first vaginal sex. Girls in the U.S. often describe first vaginal sex as something that Bjust happened ( Tolman 2002, p. 2; see also Mitchell and Wellings 1998), implying a passive role in which female sexual desire and pleasure were, at most, peripheral. ...
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Sexual compliance involves willing consent to unwanted sex. The current study examined experiences and correlates of compliant sex with casual partners. Guided by sexual script theory, feelings about first partnered sex and sexual self-perceptions were identified as possible correlates of compliance. Potential moderating effects of gender also were explored. Sexually active heterosexual undergraduates (N = 258) in the northeastern U.S. responded to self-report measures of desire, pleasure, and emotional discomfort associated with first partnered sex, sexual self-awareness, sexual refusal efficacy, and compliance with vaginal and oral sex. About a third of the sample reported complying with casual sex at least once. Overall, very few participants who complied with a casual partner also complied with a committed partner. More women than men complied with giving oral sex to a casual partner; there were no gender differences in compliance with either vaginal sex or receiving oral sex. Emotional discomfort with first partnered sex was positively associated with compliant casual sex only among women. Although women reported less desire and pleasure associated with first partnered sex than men, neither desire nor pleasure from first sex were associated with casual compliance for either gender. Refusal efficacy was negatively associated with compliant casual sex for both women and men. The implications of these findings for future research and educating college students about compliance and its correlates are discussed.
... These large samples ignore the instrinsic characterictis of particular communities and minority ethnic groups, particularly when Latinos are lumped together in one category. Finally, many studies reviewed commonly focus on one gender, studying either males or females (Gaydos, Rowland Hogue, & Kramer, 2006;Goodyear & Newcomb, 2000), or sexually or non sexually active teens (Aarons & Jenkins, 2002;Houts, 2005) or recruit only from one location (health clinics, hospitals) (Bruckner, Martin, & Bearman, 2004) producing a limited sample. ...
... The older a person is when they first have intercourse the better they are likely to feel about the experience, as the general culture suggests that sex is more acceptable in late adolescence and may be even part of normal human development and maturation (DeLamater 1989). And, individuals who first have sex within a committed relationship are expected to have more positive feelings following the event than those whose experience involved a more casual partner (Houts 2005). ...
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This study focuses on the mechanisms whereby religiosity influences adolescent involvement in risky sexual behavior. The study hypotheses were tested using structural equation modeling with a sample of approximately 2,100 undergraduates enrolled at two large state universities. Religious respondents reported a more conservative view of the circumstances under which sexual behavior is acceptable. This conservative perspective on sex was associated with older age at first intercourse and an increased likelihood that first intercourse was with a fiancé or spouse. Both of these outcomes, in turn, reduced the probability of having had a large number of subsequent sexual partners. In addition, there was a strong direct association between sexually permissive attitudes and a greater number of sexual partners. While these findings held for both males and females, we also found several sex differences. For example, negative feelings about first intercourse predicted an increased number of sexual partners for females, but was unrelated to number of partners for males.
... For this analysis, we excluded subjects aged Ͼ18 years because these ages were only present in the Filipino sample, and those aged 13 years because they were very few in all samples. The remaining subjects (aged [14][15][16][17][18] were from the Philippines (3,016), El Salvador (2,195), and Peru (3,284), with a total of 8,495 adolescents from the three countries. ...
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Adolescents who engage in sex can be affected by a range of negative physical and psychological consequences. We intend to analyze the reasons behind first sex, regret, and the association between reasons and regret. A questionnaire was implemented to 8,495 high schools students aged 14-18 years residing in the Philippines, El Salvador, and Peru. Sexually active participants responded whether several circumstances were reasons involved in their first sexual relationship. They also responded whether they regretted having already had sexual relationships. More than one-third of respondents reported at least one external pressure leading to first sex, and about one-half reported at least one reason implying getting carried away by sexual arousal. More females affirmed they regret having already had sex. Logistic regression shows that reasons for first sex associated with regret were partner insistence, "uncontrolled situations," and seeing sexual images. These reasons were associated with regret even when love was also reported as related to first sex. Adolescent sexual experience is often motivated by pressure (such as external pressure [because most friends already had sex or because of partner insistence]) and circumstances (such as getting carried away by sexual arousal [through an "uncontrolled situation" or viewing sexual images]) that lower the control over their decisions concerning sex, rather than by mature decisions, and this may result in later regret. Adolescents should be helped by parents, educators, and policy makers to be aware of these characteristics of sexual behavior of adolescents and empowered to make assertive and informed decisions concerning their sexuality.
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Previous research has demonstrated that women experience higher levels of guilt compared with men at first sexual intercourse. Research also indicates that guilt is related to religiosity and to level of relational commitment. However, there has been no research on the correlates of sexual debut in a Christian population. This study compares the experiences of married Christian women who had first intercourse before or after marriage on guilt, sanctification of sex, and marital satisfaction. A total of 210 married Christian women were administered a survey containing measures of guilt at first intercourse, sanctification of sexuality, and marital satisfaction. The results indicate that the premarital group reported significantly higher levels of guilt at first intercourse and significantly lower levels of theistic sanctification and marital satisfaction than the marital group. In addition, there was no significant correlation between relational commitment and guilt for the premarital debut group, suggesting that those who were in a committed relationship at sexual debut experienced similar levels of guilt to those who were not in a committed relationship at debut. This study has meaningful implications for the way sexuality is discussed in Christian culture.
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Drawing on the reflexive sociology advocated by Bourdieu and the thesis of lifeworld colonization by Habermas, this paper analyzes the sociological research on sexual violence and finds that the legal logic plays a distinct role in the conceptual constitution of sexual violence as an object domain of sociological research. On the one hand, the bidimensional sexual willingness is reduced into unidimensional “sexual consent”, with the dimension of “sexual need” being ignored or abandoned. On the other hand, the classification of sexual willingness is simplified into binaries, with the continuum of sexual voilence being completely covered. The tendencies toward juridification and the rise of legal studies lay the social foundations for the hegemony of legal logic, which, in turn, consolidates the colonization of sociology by legal studies and the colonization of the lifeworld by laws. In order to break down the limits set by hegemonic legal logic, the sociological research on sexual violence needs to explore the knowledge of and coping practice against sexual violence in everyday life context. By bringing back into horizon those excluded by hegemonic legal logic, the sociological research on sexual violence will contribute to the fights against not only its own colonization but also the colonization of social sciences and the lifeworld.
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L’auteure se penche sur les représentations littéraires de rapports violents entre hommes et filles, au cours desquels les premiers initient les secondes à la sexualité sous la contrainte – rapports ici désignés par l’appellation « entrée imposée » dans la sexualité. Trois romans états-uniens contemporains composent le corpus : Le Règlement de Heather Lewis (2010), Tigre, tigre! de Margaux Fragoso (2012) et La fille de Tupelo Hassman (2014). L’auteure propose une lecture critique des motifs principaux que recèle ce type d’entrée dans la sexualité : la désubjectivation, la colonisation du corps et de l’imaginaire et la normalisation. Sont enfin abordées, au terme de l’analyse, les possibles resubjectivations à la suite du traumatisme de l’agression.
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Current popular accounts of sexual morality for adolescents based simply on purity or self-determination cannot adequately anchor a Christian sexual ethic, although positions based on both notions hope to facilitate sexual health among young females. Here I critique both popular Christian purity movements and a popular feminist critique of these purity movements (based upon self-determination) and suggest the virtue of prudence as a corrective. Situated within the Catholic theological tradition, prudence (practical wisdom) acknowledges the process of human moral and sexual development and is robust enough to negotiate the concrete complexities of sexual activity and the social realities in which such activity takes place. Further, it honours an embodied sense of female sexual self-determination: females as moral agents directed towards sexual flourishing.
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Study objective: To assess the feasibility and acceptability of a game-based sexuality education curriculum. Design: Curriculum evaluation used descriptive statistics, observation, and qualitative and quantitative data collection. Setting: The study was conducted in 8(th) grade classrooms in Chicago, Illinois. Participants: Students from three 8(th) grade classrooms from a school using game-based curriculum. Intervention: The intervention had 11-modules and used an ecological model informed by the extant literature. The intervention was developed by the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab and featured a card game designed with youth participation. Main outcome measures: The study outcomes of interest included learning, feasibility, and acceptability of the curriculum. Results: Students highly rated frank conversation via "Ask the Doctor" sessions and role-playing. Students raised concerns about the breadth of activities, preferring to explore fewer topics in greater depth. Conclusions: A game-based curriculum was feasible, yet students placed the highest value on frank discussion about sexuality.
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Partially in response to the recent articulation of asexual identities and communities, scholars have begun to use the term compulsory sexuality to describe the assumption that all people are sexual and to describe the social norms and practices that both marginalize various forms of nonsexuality and compel people to experience themselves as desiring subjects, take up sexual identities, and engage in sexual activity. This article examines the development of the concept of compulsory sexuality and evaluates its usefulness for understanding certain aspects of contemporary Western sexual norms. I argue that when used judiciously, the concept of compulsory sexuality can connect existing areas of research and inspire new scholarship, can highlight how norms of sexual interest and disinterest regulate the behavior of all people, and can encourage scholars to avoid an easy equation of sexual activity with liberation.
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Early timing of first sex is a common risk factor for adverse sexual and reproductive health (SRH) outcomes. This study explored characteristics and circumstances associated with early sexual experience (at or below age 14) among Swedish youth. Data were drawn from UngKAB09, a national study of youth SRH in Sweden. 24,000 youth 16-28 years were randomly selected for a web-based survey with a response rate of 24 %. Post-stratification weights were used to correct for over- and underrepresentation in response. Adjusted logistic regression was used to model associations with early sexual experience, by gender. In the final sample (N = 5,321, 49 % girls), 9 in 10 were sexually experienced, of whom 21 % reported early first sex. In multivariate analysis, early sex was significantly associated with 7 of the 9 predictor variables selected for the model among boys and 14 of 15 selected factors among girls. Early sex was positively associated with low educational attainment, early pubertal onset, bisexual identity and (girls only) rural residence. For girls, first generation immigrant status, greater religiosity, conservative sexual attitudes and low Chlamydia knowledge decreased the odds of early sex. Early experience was more common if youth had older partners and, among girls, felt that sex was expected. Being in love, feelings of intimacy, alcohol use at first sex, and (girls only) causal sexual partner and wantedness of first sex were inversely associated with early first sex. The findings and implications are discussed in relation to the European and global literature on early sexual experiences.
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Within popular and professional discourses, consideration of women's sexuality often centers on its dangers and difficulties: unintended pregnancy, infection, varying forms of coercion and objectification, and sexual dysfunction. Such rhetoric is so persistent that sexuality itself is often perceived as inherently risky and dangerous. The present article challenges this equation by arguing that women's sexual vulnerability is attributable to social injustice and inequality on the basis of gender, heteronormativity, class, and race, rather than sexuality itself. The emerging interdisciplinary movement toward positive sexuality, including the relevance of desire and pleasure to social justice and social change, is reviewed with particular attention to the ways in which social work is especially well suited to assume a positive, social justice orientation to women's sexuality.
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The assumption that early sexual debut leads to adverse outcomes has been used as justification for sexual health interventions and policies aimed at delaying sexual initiation, yet research in the area has been limited. This review identified and synthesized published literature on the association between early first sexual intercourse and later sexual/reproductive outcomes. Literature searches were conducted in Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, and Current Contents. In all, 65 citations met the selection criteria (industrialized, population-based studies). By far the most common sexual behavior to have been investigated has been sexual partners. Studies consistently reported early first intercourse to be associated with more recent, lifetime, and concurrent sexual partners. Early initiators were also more likely to participate in a wider range of sexual practices and report increased sexual satisfaction (among men). Furthermore, early first intercourse, in some studies, was shown to increase the risk of teen pregnancies, teen births, and having an abortion, while findings on STIs and contraceptive use have been mixed. These findings, however, must be interpreted with caution due to methodological problems and limitations present in the research, including a lack of consensus on what constitutes early sexual intercourse and inconsistencies and problems with analyses.
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This article argues that formative sexual communications, and sexual attitudes and behaviors, are important foci in the exploration of the sexual health of young people. The study examines links among sexual messages received from parents and friends, the sexual attitudes of young men and women, and the sexual experiences of those youth. Analyses of data collected from 332 undergraduates suggest that sexual socialization messages are linked with such outcomes as sexual agency and sexual coercion. Additionally, young women and men appear to receive different types of messages, which affect their attitudes and behaviors differently. This study concludes that social work can use empirical research to support an agenda committed to engendering sexual health among youth.
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Young women often voluntarily give-in to unwanted sexual activity not involving force (Houts, 2005; Meston & Buss, 2007). Kennett, Humphreys and Patchell (2009) proposed a new conceptual model of sexual self-control that delineated the factors empowering young women to be resourceful in such situations. The present study extended the Kennett et al. model by providing reliability, construct and predictive validity to the various measures that make up the sexual self-control model. Three hundred and thirty heterosexual female undergraduate students completed an online questionnaire. Sixty-three participants completed a retest seven weeks later. Results demonstrated strong support for the measures that make up the sexual self-control model, i.e., the reasons for consent to unwanted sexual activity scale, the sexual self-efficacy questionnaire, the sexual resourcefulness scale, and the sexual giving in experiences survey, and for the model itself. Future applications of this new model are discussed.
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Unintended pregnancy often leads to undesirable outcomes for both mothers and children. However, the definition of unintended pregnancy in the sociology of family formation has been restricted to the intentions of mothers. The intentions of fathers--and, with them, the possible role of disagreement about pregnancy intention--remain outside most conceptual frameworks and research programs. This article draws together a number of indicators of unilateral pregnancy in research on contemporary family formation in the United States. Studies of pregnancy intendedness and contraceptive use consistently provide evidence suggesting a significant role for unilateral pregnancy in family formation. Working on the assumption that unilateral pregnancy presents great potential for social dislocation, this article argues for the integration of the concept of unilateral pregnancy into the theoretical framework informing research on family formation.
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This study, based on sexual script theory, assessed ambivalence in the decision to have sexual intercourse for the first time in 687 adolescents. On average, adolescents showed moderate levels of ambivalence. Younger adolescents, students from the highest school track, adolescents with less positive body image, those with higher love attitudes, those who did not take the initiative to have intercourse, and those feeling pressured to have sex showed higher levels of ambivalence during their decisions. Higher levels of decisional ambivalence about having intercourse were associated with a later age at the time of first intercourse and with a lower probability of contraceptive use. This study concludes that some levels of ambivalence are common in young people's decisions about having coitus as they have to negotiate contradictory sexual scripts, beliefs, and needs.
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Sexual compliance (i.e., willingly engaging in sexual activity that one does not desire) is a common behavior among young people. Little is known about the characteristics of occasions of sexual compliance in the context of a committed relationship. This study used both a diary method and in-depth interviews to assess occasions of sexual compliance, as well as types of sexual activity, condom use, pleasure, and feelings of pressure and control. Participants included 63 young adults (18-24 years old) in committed, heterosexual relationships. Seventeen percent of all sexual activity was rated as sexually compliant. Occasions of sexual compliance were rated as less enjoyable and more unexpected. In-depth interviews revealed four key themes including endorsement of an implicit contract between partners, partner awareness of low desire, past experience of pressure, and justification for reporting low desire. Future research should evaluate the long-term impact of sexual compliance on a relationship.
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Studies of adolescent female sexuality often focus on coitus to the exclusion of noncoital behaviors, the relational context of sexual interactions, and adolescent women's subjective perceptions of their experiences. In this study, 38 undergraduate women's retrospective accounts of their adolescent heterosexual experiences were examined. Generalized estimating equation models were used to test the relation of diverse heterosexual behaviors and relationship types to participants' subjective perceptions of desire, wanting, and pleasure. Of the sexual behaviors, coitus was the strongest predictor of participants' subjective perceptions. Compared to coitus, erotic touching, manual stimulation, and fellatio were significantly less predictive; there were no differences between coitus and cunnilingus or coitus and kissing. Of the relationships (serious, dating, "friends with benefits" [FWBs], and "hookups"), FWBs was the strongest predictor of participants' desire, wanting, and pleasure; in comparison, hookups were significantly less predictive. These findings offer insight into the sexual behaviors and preferences of young women, as well as distinctions between types of non-romantic sexual relationships.
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Little is known about how women and men communicate sexual consent. In this study, 378 undergraduate women and men completed a questionnaire designed to examine how they would interpret their date's and their own consent signals in hypothetical scenarios and how they actually communicate consent in heterosexual situations. Although there were no gender differences in ratings of the hypothetical date's behavior, men rated their own behaviors in hypothetical scenarios as more representative of consent than women rated their own behaviors, suggesting that women and men may mean different things when they use the same signals. There were some gender differences in how they conveyed consent in actual situations; furthermore, both women and men reported most often showing their consent to sexual intercourse by making no response. The effect sizes of the gender differences were small. The results suggest that gender‐based miscommunications about consent are possible but unlikely. Thus, miscommunication is an unlikely explanation for rape.
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The purpose of this study was to determine whether high school-aged virgins engage in sexual practices that can transmit sexually transmitted diseases, including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Data were collected from an anonymous self-administered survey of 2026 urban students in 9th through 12th grades. Forty-seven percent of adolescents were virgins (42% of male adolescents and 53% of female adolescents). Of those who were virgins, 29% and 31% reported that, during the prior year, they had engaged in heterosexual masturbation of a partner and masturbation by a partner, respectively. The corresponding rates for heterosexual fellatio with ejaculation, cunnilingus, and anal intercourse were 9%, 10%, and 1%. Homosexual sexual activities were rare. Condom use for fellatio was also rare. Level of risk of virgins' sexual activities was associated with illicit substance use and other non-sexual risk behaviors, even after demographic variables had been controlled. Few high school-aged virgins engaged in anal intercourse, but many engaged in other genital sexual activities. Some of these activities can transmit disease, and all can indicate a need for counseling about sexual decision making, risk, and prevention.
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While policymakers and researchers alike often seem to believe that young women's decision to initiate sexual intercourse is conscious and free of ambiguity, the actual degree of control that such young women exert over first intercourse has rarely been explicitly examined. The 1995 National Survey of Family Growth asked all women who had experienced intercourse to rate, on a 1-10 scale, the wantedness of their first intercourse; they were then asked whether the experience was voluntary. Logistic regression analysis of data for women aged 15-24 who had experienced first premarital intercourse was performed to test the effect of background factors and wantedness scores on contraceptive use at voluntary first intercourse. Twenty-four percent of women aged 13 or younger at the time of their first premarital intercourse report the experience to have been nonvoluntary, compared with 10% of those aged 19-24 at first premarital intercourse. About one-quarter of respondents who reported their first intercourse as voluntary chose a low value (1-4) on the wantedness scale. Women whose first partner was seven or more years older than themselves were more than twice as likely as those whose first partner was the same age or younger to choose a low value (36% vs. 17%). Women whose partner had been seven or more years older were also less likely than other women to have used contraceptives at first intercourse. After the introduction of controls for demographic and background factors, partner age discrepancy and relationship status, wantedness of voluntary first intercourse was not independently related to the odds of contraceptive use at that intercourse. Characterizing women's first intercourse as simply voluntary or nonvoluntary is inadequate. Measures that take into account degrees of wantedness may help elucidate relationships between sexual initiation, contraceptive use and teenage pregnancy. The fact that substantial numbers of young women voluntarily participated in a first sexual experience about which they felt ambivalent or negative deserves the attention of program planners and service providers.
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High rates of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV infection, among adolescents are major public health concerns that have created interest in trends in teenage sexual activity. Nationally representative data from Youth Risk Behavior Surveys conducted in 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1995 are used to examine levels of sexual experience, age at first intercourse, current sexual activity and condom use at last intercourse among students in grades 9-12. The proportion of students who reported being sexually experienced remained at 53-54% from 1990 through 1995, while the percentage of sexually active students who used condoms at last intercourse rose from 46% to 54% between 1991 and 1995. Black students were more likely than white students to report being sexually experienced, being currently sexually active and having had four or more lifetime sexual partners; black students also reported a significantly younger age at first intercourse. Gender differences in sexual behavior were found more frequently among black students than among white or Hispanic students. Although levels of sexual experience for high school students in the United States have not risen during the 1990s, a very high percentage of students continue to be at risk for unintended pregnancy and STDs, including HIV infection.
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Adolescent sexual behavior is typically studied as a dichotomy: Adolescents have had sex or they have not. Broadening this view would lead to a greater understanding of teenagers' sexual behavior. Interview data from 907 high school students in Alabama, New York and Puerto Rico were used to examine the relationships between sexual experience and a variety of social, psychological and behavioral variables. Four groups of teenagers are compared: those who did not anticipate initiating sex in the next year (delayers), those who anticipated initiating sex in the next year (anticipators), those who had had one sexual partner (singles) and those who had had two or more partners (multiples). Compared with delayers, anticipators reported more alcohol use and marijuana use; poorer psychological health; riskier peer behaviors; and looser ties to family school and church. Similarly, multiples reported more alcohol and marijuana use, riskier peer behaviors and looser ties to family and school than singles. Risk behaviors, peer behaviors, family variables, and school and church involvement showed a linear trend across the four categories of sexual behavior. The traditional sex-no sex dichotomy obscures differences among sexually inexperienced teenagers and among adolescents who have had sex. Prevention efforts must be tailored to the specific needs of teenagers with differing sexual experiences and expectations, and must address the social and psychological context in which sexual experiences occur.
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This study of university students investigated the circumstances surrounding their loss of virginity. Females were significantly more likely than males to discuss with their partner the prospect of having sex before intercourse actually occurred; be involved in a dating relationship; consider themselves to be "in love" with their partner; feel pressured by their partner to have intercourse; regret having intercourse soon afterwards; and on looking back, wish that they had not lost their virginity at that time. Both genders reported only mediocre ratings of emotional and physical satisfaction, and those students who reported experiencing "meaningful" sex education at middle or high school before losing their virginity were significantly more likely to delay sexual debut than were those students who had not received sex education. Recommendations for the inclusion of this type of data in sex education programming is suggested in order to balance the more glamorous sexuality messages often portrayed in the popular media.
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The present study examined the connection between having sexual intercourse with a premarital partner for the first time and the effect on the subsequent relationship. This questionnaire study surveyed 447 college students concerning personal factors and characteristics of their relationships with their premarital partners. The results indicated that several factors were related to the effect on the relationship. Quality of the relationship as a sexual decision factor was the best predictor of positive effect on the relationship. Suggestions for research on premarital sexuality are discussed as well as implications for intervention programs in family life education and high school and university human sexuality programs, and with premarital couples.
Article
A hypothesis derived from marital rape laws suggests that women are perceived as obligated to have sex by precedence. Subjects who read a rape scenario were more likely to perceive that the resisting woman should have sex and less likely to label the act as rape if the couple had had coitus 10 times before (high precedence) than once or never An alternative hypothesis derived from the common law on `easements by prescription" suggests that sexual precedence should affect men and women equally. In a second study, either the man or the woman refused sex after foreplay. Men as well as women were perceived to be obligated by sexual precedence. Survey results are cited that show that male and female actors' compliant sexual behaviors are related to precedence. The results are explained as reflecting norms that function to preserve mutually satisfactory relationships.
Article
A sample of sexually experienced college students was utilized to explore the affective reactions of women to their first sexual intercourse and to identify possible correlates. Pearson product‐moment correlations and multiple regression analyses were employed to test the association between affective reactions and a group of predictor variables, including social background, family background, peer influences, sexual attitudes, adolescent courtship experiences, and situational factors of the first intercourse. The results indicate that women experience a wide range of affect and that pleasure, anxiety, and guilt appear to be the most salient of these affective reactions. Correlational analyses reveal that previous rehearsal of non‐coital sexual interaction and situational components of the first intercourse itself are important predictors of these affective reactions. The report closes with a consideration of potential avenues for future research.
Article
Premarital sexual decision‐making in a sample of 434 college students was examined. The purposes of the study were (a) to determine the factors that individuals used in their decision to first have intercourse with a particular partner; (b) to compare males and females on the relative importance of derived factors in decision‐making; and (c) to compare individuals with differing levels of sexual experience on the derived decision factors. Data were collected via questionnaires, and the items were factor analyzed to uncover underlying factors in the decision to have intercourse. The results revealed four basic factors: Positive Affect/Communication, Obligation/Pressure, Arousal/Receptivity, and Circumstantial. Analyses of variance showed that females considered Positive Affect/Communication to be slightly more important than males, whereas males considered Obligation/Pressure to be slightly more important in their decision. In addition, those with more prior sexual experience considered Positive Affect/Communication less than others, but saw Arousal/Receptivity as more important than did those with less sexual experience. The underlying factors closely parallel the variables shown by other researchers to be covariates of premarital sexual experience. Longitudinal assessment of sexual decision‐making is recommended to reveal a clearer picture of this important process.
Article
The prevalence rates of unwanted sexual activity indicate that a substantial proportion of both men and women are at risk for experiencing unwanted (nonconsensual) sexual activity. However, little is known about the extent to which men and women consent to unwanted sexual activity, such as when a person indicates willingness to engage in a sexual activity at a time when he or she experiences no sexual desire. In the current study, 80 male and 80 female U.S. college students involved in committed dating relationships kept diaries of their sexual interactions for two weeks. More than one third (38%) of the participants reported consenting to unwanted sexual activity during this period. The most common motives for engaging in this behavior were to satisfy a partner's needs, to promote intimacy, and to avoid relationship tension. Most participants reported positive outcomes associated with these motives. The results indicate that previous estimates of the prevalence of unwanted (nonconsensual) sexual experiences may actually represent a confound of nonconsensual and consensual forms.
Article
As the 1990s begin, research and policy interest in adolescent sexual behavior, pregnancy, and parenting continues at a high level, both because these behaviors are critical in the process of family formation and because their precocious timing often makes them problematic for the individual and for society. Research from the 1980s is summarized on the topics of adolescent sexual activity, contraception, abortion, marriage, adoption, and childrearing. Research about the antecedents of adolescent sexual and contraceptive behavior is emphasized because they are the key risk factors in adolescent pregnancy. Advances in data and methods are discussed, and research gaps are highlighted.
Article
First sexual intercourse is considered to be a major life transition, but it is not always a pleasurable experience, especially for females. The major purposes of this research were to examine gender differences in emotional reactions (pleasure, anxiety, and guilt) to first intercourse and to test possible explanations for these gender differences. Based on data collected from 1,659 college students who had had sexual intercourse, we found that men reported experiencing more pleasure and anxiety than did women, whereas men reported experiencing less guilt than did women. Men's greater subjective pleasure in response to first intercourse was explained, in part, by their greater likelihood of having an orgasm. Similar gender differences in emotional reactions were found regardless of the stage and length of the relationship in which first intercourse occurred; both genders reported more pleasure, more anxiety, and less guilt when sex occurred in a close relationship than in a casual one. However, continuing involvement in the relationship was associated with a pleasurable reaction for women. Other ways in which gender was related to the first intercourse experience are also presented.
Article
The purposes of this study were to extend the research conducted by Muehlenhard and her colleagues (e.g., Muehlen‐hard & Hollabaugh, 1988) on token resistance to sex and to consider a second form of sexual miscommunication, consent to unwanted sex. We examined the incidence of these forms of sexual miscommunication among both women and men and in three different cultures: the United States, Russia, and Japan. Survey data were collected from 1,519 unmarried college students (970 from the U.S., 327 from Russia, and 222 from Japan). Contrary to the stereotype that only women engage in token resistance to sex, men also reported that they had been in situations in which they had said no to sex while desiring it. In the U.S. only, a greater proportion of men than women have engaged in token resistance to sex. Rates for consent to unwanted sex also varied by gender and culture. American women had the highest rate of consent to unwanted sex. The importance of collecting cross‐cultural data on sexuality and intimacy is discussed.
Article
Two hundred seventy‐five undergraduate single women were surveyed to investigate whether a continuum of premarital sexual pressure exists. Participants were asked if they were pressured into 21 different sexual behaviors. For each behavior, they responded to forced‐choice questions about the stage of dating at which the pressure occurred and the type of pressure most often experienced. Over 50% of the participants reported being pressured into kissing, breast and genital manipulation, and oral contact with their partners' genitals. Further, participants were likely to be pressured into kissing and some forms of fondling while casually dating; and masturbation, oral genital contact, and intercourse while seriously dating. Guttman analysis supports the existence of a four‐step continuum of sexual pressure from persistent physical attempts, to positive statements, to threats of force, to the use of force.
Article
A social psychology of behavior was employed to account for variation in an aspect of development-the transition from virginity to nonvirginity. Personality, perceived environment, and behavioral measures were collected by questionnaires administered annually to 186 male and 242 female high school students during 1969-1972, and to 78 male and 102 female undergraduates during 1970-1973. In cross-sectional comparisons, nonvirgins differed from virgins in the theoretically expected transition-prone direction on variables, including higher value on independence, lower value on achievement, greater social criticism and tolerance of deviance, and greater friends' models for deviance. In longitudinal comparisons, virgins who were to become nonvirgins in the subsequent year were already significantly more transition-prone on these antecedent measures than virgins who were to remain virgins. The results were stronger at the high school than at the college level, and for females than for males. (25 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
We investigated men's experience with unwanted sexual activity-including unwanted kissing, petting, or intercourse-engaged in because of physical or psychological pressure or from societal expectations about male sexuality. We developed a questionnaire asking if respondents had ever engaged in unwanted sexual activity for any of 51 reasons. This questionnaire was administered to 507 men and 486 women. More women (97.5%) than men (93.5%) had experienced unwanted sexual activity; more men (62.7%) than women (46.3%) had experienced unwanted intercourse. Using factor analysis, we grouped the 51 questionnaire items into 13 general reasons; we then compared percentages of men and women who had engaged in unwanted sexual activity for these 13 reasons. There were seven sex differences in reasons for unwanted sexual activity: Five were more frequent for women than men; two reasons were more frequent for men than women-peer pressure and desire for popularity. There were eight sex differences in reasons for unwanted intercourse; more men than women had engaged in unwanted intercourse for all eight. The double standard for male and female sexuality and implications for therapy are discussed.
Article
In 1983, the Henry W. Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta began a family planning-based outreach program for eighth graders in a local school system. The program is led by older teenagers and focuses on helping students resist peer and social pressures to initiate sexual activity. Evaluation of the program, based on telephone interviews with 536 students from the hospital's low-income population, revealed that among students who had not had sexual intercourse, those who participated in the program were significantly more likely to continue to postpone sexual activity through the end of the ninth grade than were similar students who did not participate in the program. Because of their lower rate of sexual activity, program students also experienced comparatively fewer pregnancies than no-program students.
Article
To compare the heterosexual romantic relationships of a cohort sexually experienced and sexually inexperienced adolescent girls, to describe the perceptions of the appropriateness of the age of first intercourse, and to evaluate the reasons why sexually experienced girls chose to have sexual intercourse the first and the most recent times they had sexual intercourse. Girls (n = 174) with a mean age of 14.5 years were recruited from an urban-based adolescent clinic to participate in a longitudinal study of psychosexual development. The subjects were interviewed regarding their views about relationships and sexual behaviors. For the purposes of this study, data were analyzed from the first wave of data collection. The results of this study revealed that sexually experienced girls were more likely than sexually inexperienced ones to share unique information and spend time with their boyfriends, and to anticipate that their relationships would last longer. Regardless of sexual experience, 35% of their relationships were not mutually exclusive, which places the sexually experienced girls at risk for sexually transmitted infections. Most of the girls felt that they had been "too young" at the time of first intercourse. The reasons the adolescent girls gave for having intercourse the first time and the most recent time were correlated. It would be useful to incorporate the results of this study into subsequent research which identifies strategies to aid girls to postpone the initiation of intercourse, and maintain exclusive sexual relationships. Helping sexually experienced girls to consider why they have had intercourse in the past can aid future decision-making.
Article
This study investigated anticipation and communication around first sexual intercourse through semi-structured interviews with young people (aged 16 to 29) in England. Ranging from surprise to pre-planning, several different levels of anticipation are explored. The main findings are as follows: communication plays a central role, mediating between the degree of anticipation and the degree to which first intercourse is wanted, protected and enjoyed. First intercourse tends to be characterized by silence, especially during early, spontaneous encounters. Silence does not imply lack of communication-non-verbal communication plays an important role. Where young people are ambivalent, verbal and non-verbal communication may send contradictory messages. The implications of the results for future safer sex campaigns are discussed.
Article
Sex education and venereal disease of sexually transmitted disease (STD) education has been around for some time. A review of major approaches implemented in the past 20 years and their evaluations is provided and discussed in terms of successful programs and the theoretical basis of 3 program types which have demonstrated effectiveness in changing adolescent behavior. Effective programs recognize that there are no "magic solutions." Some programs are effective in delaying the beginning of intercourse, or increasing protection against pregnancy or STDs, or reducing the number of sexual partners. Abstinence and condoms prevent pregnancy and STD including AIDS/HIV infection. Programs should integrate AIDS, STD, and pregnancy reduction into a single more comprehensive unit. Group norm development and social skill development in responding to peer pressure need to be developed in very practical ways; i.e., what to say to your partner when contraception is unavailable and desire is strong. Programs need to encourage both delay and refraining from intercourse and also to encourage contraceptive usage which is appropriate to the age. Programs should be comprehensive and should include schoolwide peer programs, group discussions, individual counseling, media or theater events, and lends with community reproductive health services. Sexuality education curriculums fall into three broad groups: knowledge-based which stress risks and consequences of pregnancy; a continuation of factual knowledge which includes values and skills development in decision-making and communication; and reactionary abstinence-only programs. New approaches are based on a health belief model and use elements of social learning theory. Through discussions and role playing teenagers awareness of the probability of becoming pregnant, and of the personal benefits of delayed sexual activity and consistent effective contraceptive use is enhanced. The Schenke and Gilchrist curriculum based on social learning theory is reviewed in detail because its use led to evidence of behavioral change.