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Correlates of Sexual Self-Consciousness Among Black Women

Abstract

Sexual self-consciousness, also known as spectatoring, can result in unpleasurable sexual experiences, sexual difficulties, and negative mental health outcomes. The purpose of this study is to investigate ratings and correlates of sexual self-consciousness (sexual embarrassment and sexual self-focus) among (N = 283) Black women ages 19–42 living in the South using objectification theory. Data for this study is from the quantitative phase of a larger explanatory mixed-methods study addressing pain, pleasure, and sexual anxiety among Black women. Descriptive statistics, bivariate correlations, and linear regressions were conducted. Demographic (age, education), partner, partner factors (marital status, gender of last sex partner), and sexual well-being factors (frequency of sexual pain, frequency of sexual anxiety, sexual satisfaction, history of sexual violence) were explored as correlates. Participants had higher scores on sexual embarrassment than sexual self-focus. The bivariate correlations showed that participants who reported higher sexual embarrassment were more likely to have non-male partners, be younger, report a history of sexual anxiety, more frequent sexual pain, and lower sexual satisfaction. Participants who reported higher sexual self-focus were older, coupled, had a male sex partner during last sexual encounter, and did not report a history of sexual anxiety. Implications for sex education, individual and couple sex therapy are discussed.

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Funding

The study was partially funded by the Center for Positive Sexuality’s Race and Sexuality Grant.

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Correspondence to Shemeka Thorpe.

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Thorpe, S., Dogan, J.N., Malone, N. et al. Correlates of Sexual Self-Consciousness Among Black Women. Sexuality & Culture (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-021-09916-8

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Keywords

  • Sexual Self-Consciousness
  • Spectatoring
  • Black Women
  • Sexual Well-Being
  • Objectification Theory