Original Paper

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 903-914

First online:

Social Identities as Predictors of Women’s Sexual Satisfaction and Sexual Activity

  • Breanne FahsAffiliated withWomen and Gender Studies Program, Arizona State University at the West Campus Email author 
  • , Eric SwankAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminology, Morehead State University

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While much research has examined sexual problems and dysfunction, far less research has examined intersections between sexual satisfaction and sexual activity, particularly as it relates to social identities. This study utilized secondary analysis of 1,473 women from the National Health and Social Life Survey to examine the way sexual satisfaction and sexual activity are at times misaligned. Using factor and cluster analyses, four groups of women defined by being high or low on satisfaction and activity were predicted by nine demographic variables, including socioeconomic class, racial/ethnic identity, age, marital status, education, sexual identity, geographical “coming of age” location, employment status, and number of children. Results showed that lower status women (women of color, working-class women, younger women, less educated women, women who worked full-time) reported low satisfaction and high activity. Women who reported high satisfaction and low activity represented the largest cluster of women, indicating that more women reported a disjuncture between satisfaction and activity than did those reporting a match between satisfaction and activity. Implications for clinical, sexuality, and social identity literatures are discussed.


Sexual satisfaction Sexual activity Women’s sexuality Social identity Social status