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How do college women decide whether to have sex on a hookup? We illuminate this question here by an analysis of transcripts of qualitative interviews that one of us Ford conducted in and with women students at an elite private university.
The study from which we drew these interviews was focused on unwanted sex—everything from sex that students consented to but felt ambivalent about, to sex involving physical coercion. Our interest in this blog post is what we learned from women whose experiences were not physically coercive, but were nonetheless difficult because of their awareness of their vulnerability to these three labels.
Participants were recruited by a screening survey in two introductory sociology courses and by recruitment flyers placed around campus. The screening survey asked questions to ascertain if the person had experienced unwanted sex. Interviews sext sluts conducted in person with 44 women and lasted between 45 minutes and 2 hours. The quotes that follow below are verbatim from these interviews. Respondent 2: If I had sex with him maybe he would think I was a whore or easy. I think more so, if I had sex with him I thought he would think I was easier for him [to sleep with] and stuff like that.
Respondent 3: I felt like really — a lot of shame. Not something I would have done normally. Just like, I felt kinda dirty. I remember showering continuously. Like, that whole label.
Respondent 5: Like women are made to serve men or something. Respondent 6: Yeah I was worried about him telling everyone I was a prude — leading him on and playing games. Respondent 7: Yea. Respondent 7: Maybe. It would be like… like when he was trying to get me to lay down in bed.
I thought it might make things more hostile. Respondent 9: Oh another gray area. I kinda wanted to date my best friend Mike. I wanted to try dating. We did a lot of communicating. He really wanted to get physical. So I personally chose to have sex with him. In the moment, I thought maybe it would spark something. I was feeling sext sluts it might be a good thing to try.
So I did try to do that [sex with Mike] and it was kinda terrible. It was selfless. I was kinda just wanting for it to end the whole time. Like an hour.
I did it because I generally wanted to do it for him. Often, women were so aware of the kinds of pressures they were balancing that they laid out multiple fears in the same quotes.
For example:. I feel like most girls are the same way, want to make guys like them. I just always want people to like me, especially guys. Respondent Yea. Having a lot of confidence but also not seeming easy. Cute and sexual but not slutty. Respondent Will he tell his sext sluts lies about me because he is angry?
Respondent You wanna come off a certain way present yourself as easy going or someone who is cool and down, but at the same time if you are not comfortable with stuff, also balancing that. Interviewer: Seems like women have to have sext sluts balance, being fun and experienced but not too experienced? Have to be this in-between. But if a woman is with a lot of guys she is a slut or whore.
Respondent 2: Yea. Our interviews with college women illustrate that women are quite aware of reputational consequences of having or not having sex. Clearly, many women are worried about what men will think of them. While some women discussed just one of these pressures, many acknowledged worrying about two of them simultaneously. These women see themselves as walking a tightrope, and women often find balancing their need to avoid two images difficult.
Of course, we are not suggesting that it is possible or desirable to free sexual interaction from social norms or expectations. And we recognize that in many arenas, one social norm will have to be balanced against another when, in a particular situation, they push one in opposite ways. Contexts is a quarterly magazine that makes cutting-edge social research accessible to general readers. We're the public face of sociology. Contexts sociology for the public. Home Departments Blog About Search. Sexuality and inequality research. About Contexts Contexts is a quarterly magazine that makes cutting-edge social research accessible to general readers.
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Only sluts love sexting: youth, sexual norms and non-consensual sharing of digital sexual images