“Living the life God sees for women”: an exploration of religion, gender-based power dynamics, and sexual decision making within African American faith-based communities 公开

Piper, Kaitlin (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/qj72p719f?locale=zh
Published

Abstract

Introduction: Despite advancements in prevention strategies, HIV/AIDS continues to be a prominent health and social justice issue, especially for African American communities in the South. The African American church has a unique opportunity to reach their congregation and community for sexual health education efforts. However, traditionally male dominated leadership and patriarchal gender norms within the church pose challenges to empowering women to make safer sexual health decisions. Methods: To explore perceptions of gender roles and women’s empowerment, 42 semi-structured interviews were gathered from female members of 16 predominantly African American churches in Atlanta, GA participating in a larger faith-based HIV prevention program. Grounded theory guided data analysis and a diverse team coded interviews using NVivo. Results: Findings suggest that vulnerability to negative sexual health outcomes may partly be attributable to a lack of women’s empowerment and prevention education within the church. Furthermore, traditional religious practices placing men in positions of authority limit women’s control over decision-making within their church, family, and relationships. Due to these gender-related power imbalances, many respondents recalled instances where they engaged in risky and unwanted sexual behavior because they lacked authority over their partner’s actions. Moving forward, respondents want churches to provide young women with the knowledge and skills necessary to negotiate sexual decisions with their partners. Conclusions: Not only should church programming promote partner equality, but it should also instill confidence and autonomy in all facets of women’s lives; therefore, enabling women to be key advocates for their own well-being and the health of the community.

 

Table of Contents

Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….………1

 

HIV Infections in the United States…………………………………………………………………………………..1

 

HIV Infections among African American Women………………………………………………………………1

 

Gender-Related Power Dynamics among Heterosexual Couples……………………………………….2

 

Gender Norms in Society and Religious Institutions…………………………………………………………..3

 

Study Purpose and Research Questions…………………………………………………………………………….4

 

Theoretical Framework: Theory of Gender and Power………………………………………………………5

 

LITERATURE REVIEW……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...7

 

Gender and Power in Sexual Relationships………………………………………………………………………..7

 

Gender and Power in Faith-Based Communities………………………………………………………………10

 

METHODS……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..14

 

Sample Selection………………………………………………………………………………………………………………14

 

Data Collection………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….15

 

Data Analysis…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….16

 

RESULTS…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………17

 

Respondent Characteristics……………………………………………………………………………………………….17

 

Overview of Results…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..19

 

Gender Dynamics in the Church………………………………………………………………………………………..22

 

Sexual Division of Power: What power do men and women hold within the church? Who controls the sexual health narratives within the church?.........................................22

 

Structure of Cathexis: What expectations does the church have for men and women’s sexual activity?...........................................................................................................26

 

Gender Dynamics in the Family…………………………………………………………………………………………..29

 

Structure of Cathexis: What expectations do religious families have for son’s and daughter’s sexual activity? Who is expected to teach children about sexual health within families?......................................................................................................................29

 

Gender Dynamics in Intimate Partner Relationships……………………………………………………………34

 

Structure of Cathexis: Who is expected to make sexual decisions within relationships           ……………………………………………………………………………………..............................…………….34

 

Sexual Division of Power: Who has more control over sexual decision making within intimate relationships?...............................................................................................36

 

Women’s Empowerment within the Church: Recommendations from Respondents…………….40

 

DISCUSSION……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….43

 

Summary of Findings……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..43

 

Research Question #1: How are gender norms and gender-based power dynamics modeled within predominantly African American churches in the South?...................43

 

Research Question #2: How are gender norms and gender-based power dynamics modeled within African American religious families?....................................................45

 

Research Question #3: How do gender norms modeled within churches and religious families contribute to sexual decision making among African American women in the South?............................................................................................................................46

 

Implications for Interventions………………………………………………………………………………………………..48

 

Limitations and Future Directions…………………………………………………………………………………………..52

 

Conclusions…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….54

 

REFERENCES………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..56

 

APPENDIX……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………66

 

       Appendix 1: Qualitative Codebook…………………………………………………………………………………….……66

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