Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Casual hookups, masturbation, orgasm, pleasure prioritization, sexual agency, unwanted sexual behavior, women
Description: Dichotomous discourse surrounding sexual behavior frames sexual experiences as either consensual or non-consensual. This rhetoric suggests that all consensual sexual activity is desired sexual activity, and does not account for the effect of heteronormative sexual scripts and gendered power dynamics. What are the consequences of engaging in unwanted, yet consensual, sexual activity for heterosexual cis-women? In casual hookups, motivations to engage in sexual activities such as emotional commitment and reproduction are removed from the sexual equation, leaving sexual pleasure as the primary goal. However, in heterosexual sexual activity, women’s pleasure is often not prioritized. This reality creates a grey area of desire as it frames women as objects of men’s sexual pleasure, running the risk of creating unwanted, non-pleasurable experiences for women. How does engaging in unwanted sexual activity affect a woman’s expression of her sexual agency and self-prioritization of pleasure? I propose that engaging in unwanted sexual activity will result in the dissociation of sex and pleasure in any sexual context for women, including safe, non-partnered contexts. More specifically, using masturbation as an indicator of sexual agency and prioritizing personal pleasure, I hypothesize that women who engage in unwanted encounters will have masturbated less recently. This paper analyzes data from the Online College Social Life Survey (2005-2011). The results refute the hypothesis that women will have masturbated less recently if they engage in unwanted sex, suggesting that women who engage in unwanted sexual activity will actually have masturbated more recently.
Mirtz, Sofia, "Unwanted Sexual Behavior and Women's Sexual Agency: Gendered Experiences of Pleasure in Casual Sex" (2019). Sociology Senior Seminar Papers. 24.