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Saturday, March 7 • 1:05pm - 2:05pm
Challenging sexuality stereotypes through ambivalent consent episodes

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Research on female sexuality argues against a centuries old culturally constructed idea of female sexuality as more passive and less desirous than males (Fine, 1988; Fine & McClelland, 2006; Tolman, 2012). As a reaction to this expectation, women who express agentic sexuality draw on male expectations or assumptions about sexuality (Holland, Ramazanoglu, Sharpe, & Thomson, 2004; Lamb, 2010; Lamb & Peterson, 2013). These restrictions around female desire have been implicated in producing a type of ambivalence, “wanting it and not wanting it” (Lamb, 2002; Peterson & Muehlenhard, 2005; 2007). When working inside these restrictions, they can reenact the aforementioned stereotypes. The opposite can be true for men. Public representations of masculinity show a cultural expectation that men are always ready for “action” (Brown, Lamb, & Tappan, 2010). This is “libidinous heterosexuality” (Attwood, 2005) and is a trait of hegemonic masculinity, which also includes physicality, homophobia, violence, misogyny, and control (Kimmel, 2007). Connell defines masculinity more simply, as power in relation to others (1995, 2012) positioning “always wanting it” as empowerment. Researchers have countered this through research on regrettable sex with both genders (Caron and Moskey, 2002; Oswalt, Cameron, & Koob, 2005; Fisher, Worth, Garcia, & Meredith, 2012) and research about male adolescents’ longing for relationship (Giordano, Longmore, & Manning, 2006). To address stereotypes and undo the restrictive binary of agency for men and women, we examine interviews of 18 men for moments when participants disrupted the assumption of men always wanting and ready for sex. We explore their thinking during sex (as related to us) to address hegemonic masculinity. We also make comparisons to women’s reasons for engaging in sex that they did not want to have (see Impett & Peplau, 2002). A discourse and content analysis showed four themes: preserving agency, performing well, challenging masculinity, and negative character evaluation.


Madeline Brodt

University of Massachusetts Boston

Saturday March 7, 2015 1:05pm - 2:05pm PST