University-Enrolled Black Women on Faith-Driven Negotiations of Sexual Beliefs and Practices




Belanger, Chelsea C.

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Previous research has revealed that African American women exhibit distinctive behaviors and outcomes related to their sexual health. This study uses qualitative interviews to (1) examine how devout African American women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-eight enrolled at a university in South Texas negotiate their dating and romantic relationships, views of sex, and sexual experiences, and (2) explore how these perceptions and experiences are linked to their religious beliefs and relationships. Theoretical insights from vocabularies of motive are used to analyze the data. Given the prominent role of religion among African Americans, the interviewees creatively use their faith to negotiate their sexual decision-making. Despite the highly religious nature of respondents, religion played a muted role in shaping the sexual decisions of some interviewees. Others expressed being highly motivated by their faith, so much so that they plan to abstain from sexual intercourse until marriage. This study concludes by highlighting the influence of religion on sexual health among African American college women and points to promising directions for future research.


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African American, Behavioral Health, Religious, Sexual practices, University-enrolled, Women