Date of Award

Summer 8-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Maureen C. McHugh

Second Advisor

Beverly Goodwin

Third Advisor

Anson E. Long

Abstract

Young women’s sexualities are influenced and limited by cultural discourses of acceptable sexual behavior. The aims of this study were to: 1) understand the discourses around female sexuality that currently operate in the lives of young adult women and color their constructions of “good” sex; 2) develop and implement a workshop for college-age women that provides an opportunity for participants to critique existing discourses around female sexuality and discuss wider possibilities for sexual expression from a sex-positive framework (i.e., the Finding What Feels Good workshop); 3) uncover whether participation in the workshop influences the kinds of discourses that young adult women endorse in their conceptualizations of “good sex"; and 4) determine whether participation in the workshop increases women’s sense of sexual subjectivity. A workshop evaluation was also completed. Results of a qualitative discourse analysis indicate that progressive (vs. limiting) discourses of female sexuality tended to be endorsed more strongly in the "good sex" narratives of women who participated in the workshop. Further, participant responses to a modified version of the Female Sexual Subjectivity Inventory (Horne and Zimmer-Gembeck, 2006) show that participation in the workshop is correlated with higher levels of entitlement to pleasure from self and self-efficacy in achieving pleasure. In their evaluation of the workshop, participants noted that talking with others about sexuality is a critically important part of recognizing and respecting sexual diversity among others, and of feeling normalized regarding one’s sexual practices, preferences, and desires.

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