Tensions between emotional labor, agency, entitlement, and coercion all underlie women’s ability or inability to negotiate, consent to, and refuse oral and anal sex. In this study, we analyzed semi-structured interviews with twenty women from a diverse 2014 community sample collected in a large Southwestern U.S. city in order to examine the context around women’s negotiations of oral and anal sex, particularly how, when, why, and with whom they engage in, and refuse, such activities. There were three themes in how women negotiated oral and anal sex with their partner(s): (1) not expecting sexual reciprocity; (2) partner pressure; and (3) emotional labor. Implications for how women negotiate sex, and what meanings they bring to these negotiations, are explored. Women’s beliefs about (men’s) sexual entitlement and cultural expectations for non-vaginal sex further complicate women’s negotiations of oral and anal sex as well as their ability to enthusiastically consent to such activities. Clinical practice implications and the importance of clinicians both broadening definitions of sex and openly discussing women’s entitlement to refuse sex are discussed.
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We received no funding for this study.
Conflict of interest
Breanne Fahs and Eric Swank declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures were 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 was obtained from all individual participants included in this study.
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Special thanks to the Feminist Research on Gender and Sexuality Group for their contributions to this manuscript.
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Fahs, B., Swank, E. Reciprocity, Partner Pressure, and Emotional Labor: Women Discuss Negotiations Around Oral and Anal Sex. Sexuality & Culture 25, 217–234 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-020-09766-w