Education and Empowerment: Internalized Racism, Stigma and Sexual Health Education and the Development of Black Women’s Self-Esteem and Sexual Experiences in the American South. Open Access

Joseph, Veronica (Spring 2023)

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Background: Black women and girls face a significant number of disparities in sexual and reproductive health outcomes as the result of their experiences with sexual violence, racial and gendered discrimination created from racialized stereotypes and deficits in sexual health. 

Methodology: 10 in-depth interviews from were conducted with self-identifying Black women between the age of 22 and 30 who received their sexual health education in the American South. The interviews were transcribed through Otter.AI transcription software. Using MAXQDA software, thematic analysis was performed to develop themes according to the experiences of Black women from the transcribed interviews.

Results: Analysis of data from ten qualitative interviews has resulted in the identification of eight themes: 1) participants first introduction to sex, 2) deficits in sexual health education, 3) the role of media and pornography in Black women’s sexual development, 4) young Black women’s journey to sexual empowerment, 5) the role of elders in Black women’s sexual development, 6) negative perceptions of Black women, 7) young Black women’s experiences receiving sexual healthcare, and 8) young Black women’s recommendations to improve sexual health education. Additionally, young Black women’s journey to sexual empowerment was described through three stages: 1) Passive role in sexual relationships, 2) Period of reflection and 3) Sexual empowerment.

Conclusions: The sexual health education Black women receive from formal and informal settings in the south during their formative years is inadequate in preparing them for their sexual experiences or protecting them from adverse sexual experiences, such as sexual violence or STI acquisition.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction. 1

Chapter 2: Literature Review.. 13

Chapter 3: Methodology. 29

Chapter Four: Results. 35

Chapter 5: Conclusions, Implications and Recommendations. 69

References. 86

Appendix A: Interview Guide. 94

Appendix B: Journey to Sexual Empowerment Diagram.. 100

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