“That’s Kind of One of Our Jobs”: Sexual Activity as a Form of Care Work Among Women with Sexual Difficulties

“That’s Kind of One of Our Jobs”: Sexual Activity as a Form of Care Work Among Women with... Willing engagement in unwanted or undesired sexual activity, often associated with fulfilling a partner’s needs or sustaining intimate relationships, is common. Acquiescence with undesired sexual activity can be conceptualized as sexual care work, that is, domestic “labor” that women undertake with the goal of caring for their partners’ well-being. Drawing on interviews with 53 women with dyspareunia (pain experienced during intercourse) and low desire, the aim of this study was to examine how women with sexual difficulties engage in sexual care work, the implications of the inability to perform such work for gender identity, and the ways in which sexual care work may blur the lines between women’s perceptions of coercion and consent. The women in this study engaged in sexual activity for a number of reasons, including the pursuit of intimacy, to care for their partner, and to fulfill their perceived sexual obligations. Sexual compliance was conceptualized as a form of work, similar to other forms of unpaid care work such as housework or childcare, which negatively affected women’s gender identities when it could not be performed. For many women, sex was simultaneously wanted and unwanted, contributing to women’s ambivalence regarding the meaning of consent. Further exploration of these issues may lead to a better understanding of how gender is achieved through normative sexuality. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Archives of Sexual Behavior Springer Journals

“That’s Kind of One of Our Jobs”: Sexual Activity as a Form of Care Work Among Women with Sexual Difficulties

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Psychology; Sexual Behavior; Public Health; Social Sciences, general
ISSN
0004-0002
eISSN
1573-2800
D.O.I.
10.1007/s10508-017-0945-1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Willing engagement in unwanted or undesired sexual activity, often associated with fulfilling a partner’s needs or sustaining intimate relationships, is common. Acquiescence with undesired sexual activity can be conceptualized as sexual care work, that is, domestic “labor” that women undertake with the goal of caring for their partners’ well-being. Drawing on interviews with 53 women with dyspareunia (pain experienced during intercourse) and low desire, the aim of this study was to examine how women with sexual difficulties engage in sexual care work, the implications of the inability to perform such work for gender identity, and the ways in which sexual care work may blur the lines between women’s perceptions of coercion and consent. The women in this study engaged in sexual activity for a number of reasons, including the pursuit of intimacy, to care for their partner, and to fulfill their perceived sexual obligations. Sexual compliance was conceptualized as a form of work, similar to other forms of unpaid care work such as housework or childcare, which negatively affected women’s gender identities when it could not be performed. For many women, sex was simultaneously wanted and unwanted, contributing to women’s ambivalence regarding the meaning of consent. Further exploration of these issues may lead to a better understanding of how gender is achieved through normative sexuality.

Journal

Archives of Sexual BehaviorSpringer Journals

Published: Apr 25, 2017

References

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