Black college women’s sexual attitudes and behaviors within the context of hookup culture: a mixed method study

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Wendasha Jenkins Hall (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Tracy Nichols

Abstract: Black women are one of the fastest growing minority populations on United States (US) college campuses. In addition, they are disproportionately burdened by the sexually transmitted infection (STI) and HIV epidemics facing young adults. Despite these deleterious health outcomes, little is known about the sexual behaviors and factors that affect Black college women’s sexual health. One avenue of sexual health research with potential to shed light on this population’s sexual behavior and risk is hookup culture. The ‘hookup’—a casual sexual encounter between individuals without the expectation of a dating or romantic relationship—has become increasingly prevalent on US college campuses with 60-80% of students reporting at least one hookup experience during their college career. Considering that young adults aged 15-24 account for half of new STI diagnoses in the US each year, hookups present a potential health risk to college students. However, the existing hookup literature is overwhelming White and female, and often exclusive of historically marginalized populations such as Black women. Accordingly, the purpose of this dissertation study was two-fold. The first goal was to quantitatively examine the intersecting relationship of race and gender and its association with hookup attitudes and condomless vaginal sex during hookups. The study also explored the association between pre-hookup relationship intentions and condomless vaginal sex. The second goal of the study was to qualitatively describe Black college women’s perceptions of and attitudes toward hookup culture on their respective college campuses. In all, the quantitative findings from this study indicated that both race and gender were statistically, significantly associated with college students’ attitudes toward hooking up. Black students and female students held more conservative attitudes toward hooking up than their White and male counterparts, respectively. Further, both race and gender were statistically, significantly associated and condom use during last vaginal hookup. Black students and male students were more likely to report condom use during their last vaginal hookup when compared to their White and female counterparts, respectively. Pre-hookup relationship intentions were also found to play a significant role in condom use atlast vaginal hookup. Students who desired a relationship with their hookup partner were less likely to report condom use than those who had no desire or were unsure of their relationship intentions. In both studies, the interaction between race and gender was found to have no influence on attitudes toward hooking up and condom use during last vaginal hookup. The preliminary qualitative findings from the focus groups suggest that Black college women’s sexual attitudes and experiences of romantic and casual sexual relationships with hookup culture are influenced by both racial and gendered stereotypes and expectations of appropriate sexual behavior. Accordingly, future research should further examine the intersectional influences of race and gender on Black college women’s sexual experiences to enhance our understanding of the sexual health disparities facing this population and inform culturally congruent interventions.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2017
Gender, Intersectionality, Race, Sexual Health
African American women college students $v Sexual behavior
Sexual health
Intersectionality (Sociology)

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