Education, Power, & Sex: A qualitative study on the interrelationship of factors that influence the sexual behavior of African American women attending a Historically Black College Open Access

Collins, Carmen Nicole (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/kh04dp89s?locale=en
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Abstract

This qualitative study explored the impact of educational or professional achievement on perceived power in relationships and sexual encounters. Specifically, this study considered how differences in partner educational or professional achievement influenced protective sexual behaviors including condom negotiation and patterns of condom use. African American emerging adult females are disproportionately affected by sexual health risks such as HIV/AIDS and unintended pregnancies. Furthermore, when controlling for condom use rates, African American females in this age group continue to have more deleterious health outcomes when compared to their White counterparts. Thus, it is important to understand the underlying social and behavioral factors contributing to sexual decision-making in this population. This study consisted of 19 semi-structured, in-depth interviews of African American females attending a Historically Black College in the Southeastern United States. The theory of gender and power and the social cognitive theory were used as a framework for thematic analysis of the relationship between perceived power and protective behaviors in a cultural context. Results revealed that college women desired partners who were or would become financially stable so that, in the case of unintended pregnancy, they would have adequate support. Women also described education as a self-efficacy booster for partner communication which was shown to be important in perceived power women felt in their relationships and sexual encounters. Overall, these findings inform current and future multi-level sexual risk reduction interventions and allow college campuses to better align their resources to the African American emerging adult female population.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................ vi Chapter I: Introduction ........................................................................................................ 1 Problem Definition.......................................................................................................... 1 Problem Justification ...................................................................................................... 2 Theoretical Framework ................................................................................................... 4 Purpose ............................................................................................................................ 9 Chapter II. Literature Review ........................................................................................... 11 Partner Communication in African American Couples ................................................ 11 The Impact of Condom Negotiation and Use ............................................................... 13 The African American Achievement Gap .................................................................... 15 Perceived Power in African American Relationships ................................................... 16 Summary ....................................................................................................................... 16 Chapter III: Methodology ................................................................................................. 19 Research Design............................................................................................................ 19 Participants .................................................................................................................... 19 Data Collection & Management ................................................................................... 21 Data Analysis ................................................................................................................ 23 Chapter IV: Results ........................................................................................................... 24 Participants .................................................................................................................... 24 Power Defined .............................................................................................................. 24 Perceived Power and Sexual Relationships .................................................................. 27 Condom Negotiation ..................................................................................................... 28 Impact of Perceived Power on Negotiation .................................................................. 32 Educational & Professional Achievement .................................................................... 33 Education and Perceived Power.................................................................................... 36 Achievement and Condom Negotiation ........................................................................ 39 Chapter V: Discussion ...................................................................................................... 43 Public Health Implications ............................................................................................ 47 Implications for Future Research .................................................................................. 48 Strengths & Limitations ................................................................................................ 48 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 50 References ......................................................................................................................... 52 Appendix A ....................................................................................................................... 54 Appendix B ....................................................................................................................... 56

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