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Hispanic College Men's Perceptions of Appropriate Strategies for Initiating Sexual Intercourse with Women

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Research on heterosexual college students’ sexual activity finds that men are typically the initiators of sexual intercourse. However, few studies examining college students’ sexual experiences have focused on racial/ethnic minority populations. The present study uses sexual scripting frameworks and qualitative methods to provide an in-depth examination of the sexual initiation perceptions of 45 Hispanic college men who have sex with women. Two broad themes were uncovered: (a) men’s perceptions about when sexual intercourse should first be initiated and (b) the kinds of behaviors men saw as appropriate for initiating sexual intimacy. Hispanic college men reported that the status of the relationship and partners’ mutual desire most strongly influenced their decisions about when to initiate sex. Few men ascribed to a normative time frame for initiating sexual intercourse. The most commonly reported approach used to initiate sex was non-verbal communication, followed by indirect verbal communication, direct verbal communication, and waiting for the woman to initiate. Although machismo beliefs were acknowledged as part of men’s cultural reference for masculinity, they felt they were not central to their own sexual initiation experiences or beliefs. Our findings advance our knowledge of the processes contributing to college men’s personal desires and beliefs about engaging in sexual activity, which has important implications for developing effective campus-based efforts addressing the communication of sexual consent.

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The authors would like to thank undergraduate Research Assistants Sabrina Aguilar, Tatiana Bustos, Alexa Collazo, Katherine Fernandez, Lauren Hayes, Geysa Ortiz, and Gloria Selva for their work on this project.

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Correspondence to Dionne P. Stephens.

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I certify that I have complied with the APA ethical principles regarding research with human participants and/or care and use of animals in the conduct of the research presented in this manuscript. Further, this research was conducted after receiving approval from the Florida International University Institutional Review Board, and followed all protocols and requirements outlined in that application.

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Stephens, D.P., Eaton, A.A. & Boyd, B. Hispanic College Men's Perceptions of Appropriate Strategies for Initiating Sexual Intercourse with Women. Sex Roles 77, 239–253 (2017).

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  • Hispanic
  • Sexuality
  • Masculinity
  • Sexual script
  • Consent