266131 Traditional gender role ideology and its potential impact on women's sexual wellbeing and health promotive behaviors

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Natalie Alizaga, MPH , Department of Psychology, The George Washington University, Washington, DC
Prior research found that valuing gender conformity correlates negatively with sexual pleasure in women. Sexual subjectivity, which encompasses awareness of sexual desires and the ability to advocate for one's sexual safety and pleasure, also plays a large role in sexual satisfaction. Women who endorse a feminist ideology, however, have been found to have a greater sense of sexual subjectivity, and are more inclined to have sex as a result of their own sexual interests and wishes. The current study sought to synthesize these findings and explain how holding a conservative perspective on gender roles might negatively relate to sexual subjectivity, and desire, wanting, and pleasure for instances of sexual activity. Data were obtained through surveys and qualitative interviews. Thirty-one sexually active undergraduate women were interviewed using the Sexual Life History Calendar, a retrospective data collection method designed to assess participants' sexual experiences since age 10. Results at the bivariate level revealed that stronger conservative gender beliefs were associated with lower levels of sexual desire (r= -.37, p<.05) and wanting (r= -.40, p<.05), and marginally related to pleasure (r= -.31, p=.10). Moreover, the stronger participants' conservative gender beliefs, the less sexual subjectivity they reported (b=-.80, p<.01), which then negatively predicted sexual wanting (p=.001) and pleasure (p=.002). Results provide further support for the relationship between sexual subjectivity and sexual satisfaction. Most important, however, is the implication that conservative gender ideology and sexual wellbeing are incompatible. Findings suggest that endorsing traditional roles may be detrimental in creating safer, enjoyable sexual experiences for women.

Learning Areas:
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
To explain how holding a conservative perspective of gender roles can negatively impact sexual subjectivity and women’s subjective perceptions of desire, wanting, and pleasure for sexual activity.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I received my MPH in 2009 and am currently a doctoral student in Applied Social Psychology, with an emphasis on diversity and health. Among my scientific interests are sexual health in diverse samples of women and intersectionality of sexism, racism, and heterosexism among lesbian and bisexual women of color.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.