A Gender Discrepancy Analysis of Heterosexual Sexual Behaviors in Two University Samples
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The current study aimed to (1) offer a large-scale enumeration of college students’ lifetime sexual behaviors and sexual behaviors at last event, and (2) apply a gender discrepancy lens to college students’ sexual behaviors in order to examine potential gender differences in heterosexual college students’ experiences. Nine-hundred and seventy college students between the ages of 18 and 27 from two large universities in the United States participated in the current study. Participants filled out a paper–pencil questionnaire during the last 30 min of class. Measures of lifetime sexual behaviors and engagement in behaviors at last sexual event were replicated from the National Survey of Sexual Health Behavior. Most college students engaged in some form of sexual behavior (manual, oral, vaginal-penile, anal). Men more frequently reported engaging in receptive sexual behaviors (e.g., receiving oral sex) where as women were more likely to engage in performative sexual behaviors (e.g., performing oral sex). At most recent sexual event, men were more likely than women to report being the sexual initiator. Findings highlight gender differences in sexual behavior and provide a foundation for social norms interventions. Holistic sexual health promotion for young adults includes acknowledging and discouraging sites of disparity in equity and pleasure. Therefore, college-level sexual health educators should pay attention to the potential pleasure gap between men and women in heterosexual encounters, and to see pleasure as an important part of sexual health that should be included in social norms campaigns.
KeywordsSexual behaviors Social norms Sexual norms Gender differences
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