Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 669–684 | Cite as

Enjoyment of Sexualization and Feminism: Relationships with Sexual Self-Schema and Psychosexual Health

  • Michael Barnett
  • Idalia Maciel
  • Mallory Gerner
Original Paper


Feminists have debated whether enjoyment of sexualization (ES)—when women find sexualized attention from men rewarding—represents empowerment or patriarchal oppression. The purpose of this study was to investigate the psychosexual correlates of ES—sexual self-schema (SSS) and psychosexual health—among heterosexual college women (n = 754) and men (n = 389). Among women, ES was associated with a SSS in which women saw themselves as more heterosexual, more attractive, more open to unconventional sex acts, and having greater sentimentality about romantic relationships. Regarding psychosexual health, ES was not linked with general self-esteem but was associated with higher sexual esteem and lower sexual depression. Among men, ES was not related to SSS or psychosexual health. Overall, among women, ES was linked with positive outcomes, and it may represent women conforming to societal norms and using sexualized attention in order to obtain romantic intimacy. Rather than internalized misogyny, ES may represent an open approach to sexuality in which women take advantage of their sexualized position in society for their own empowerment.


Feminism Sexy seven Sexual self-schema Self-objectification 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of North TexasDentonUSA

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