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The Object of One’s Desire: How Perceived Sexual Empowerment Through Objectification is Related to Sexual Outcomes

Abstract

There is a debate as to whether or not gaining a sense of sexual empowerment through being an object of sexual desire results in empowerment. This debate has been largely theoretical, but there are now operationalizations of self-sexualization, enjoying sexualization, and perceiving sex as a source of personal power which allow for the collection of data on this topic. The current study examined whether these constructs were related to attitudinal and behavioral indicators of sexual satisfaction and sexual agency. An online sample of young, heterosexual, sexually active women was recruited. Our constructs of interest were related to some positive sexual outcomes, including sexual esteem and sexual assertiveness. At the same time, these constructs were related to having faked orgasm, and both self-sexualization and the belief that sex can be a source of power were related to greater frequency of having faked an orgasm. Additionally, none of the variables was significantly related to sexual satisfaction or ease of orgasm. Thus, while there may be some positive sexual outcomes associated with these variables, there are other indicators that a sense of empowerment through objectified sexuality may interfere with true sexual subjectivity.

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Correspondence to Mindy J. Erchull.

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Erchull, M.J., Liss, M. The Object of One’s Desire: How Perceived Sexual Empowerment Through Objectification is Related to Sexual Outcomes. Sexuality & Culture 18, 773–788 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-013-9216-z

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Keywords

  • Self-sexualization
  • Enjoyment of sexualization
  • Sexual assertiveness
  • Sexual subjectivity
  • Permissive sexual attitudes
  • Orgasm
  • Sexual esteem