Main Article Content
In the context of Chinese culture, women’s sexual autonomy is essential but frequently overlooked. This study used a qualitative descriptive approach with a feminist lens to explore the sexual assertiveness of Chinese female college students. Data were collected from July 2020 to December 2020 through in-depth interviews with 20 female college students aged 18-24 years from 3 colleges in the southwest of China. The data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Four categories emerged from data analysis.
Category 1: Being sexually assertive (Sub-categories: Able to express sexual desire, Able to refuse unwanted sex, Able to inquire partner’s sexual history, Able to negotiate condom use). Category 2: Experiences of being sexually assertive (Sub-categories: Ambivalence towards sexual expression, Harmless compromise on unwanted sex, Reassurance of fidelity, Consensus using condoms). Category 3: Supports for enabling sexually assertive (Sub-categories: Having sexual knowledge, Receiving parental sexual protection messages, Gaining lessons from unpleasant experience, Media exposure). Category 4: Constraints of being sexually assertive (Sub-categories: Endorsement of the sexual double standard, Concerns about partner’s thoughts, Excessive alcohol drinking).
The findings are helpful for healthcare providers, including nurses, to understand the situation of sexual assertiveness among Chinese female college students. Findings also contribute to promoting sexual health interventions to enhance sexual assertiveness, including promoting comprehensive sexuality education, sexual protection messages communication with parents, decreasing anticipated partner’s negative thoughts and reaction, coping with excessive alcohol drinking, and transformation of the sexual double standard.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Copyright: The Pacific Rim International Journal of Nursing Research, Thailand Nursing & Midwifery Council has exclusive rights to publish, reproduce and distribute the manuscript and all contents therein.
López-Alvarado S, Van Parys H, Jerves E, Enzlin P. Development of sexual assertiveness and its function for human sexuality: a literature review. Interam J Psychol. 2020;54:948-9. doi:10.30849/ripijp.v54i2.948.
Zhang H, Xie L, Lo SST, Fan S, Yip P. Female sexual assertiveness and sexual satisfaction among Chinese couples in Hong Kong: a dyadic approach. J Sex Res. 2021 Feb 2: 1-9. doi:10.1080/00224499.2021.1875187.
Blair SL, Scott CL. “It started with a kiss”: the initiation of sexual intimacy among young adults in China. Sex Cult. 2019; 23(4):1147-66. doi:10.1007/s12119-019-09608-4.
Zuo X, Lou C, Gao E, Lian Q, Shah IH. Gender role attitudes, awareness and experiences of non-consensual sex among university students in Shanghai, China. Reprod Health. 2018;15(1):49. doi:10.1186/s12978-018-0491-x.
Lyu J, Shen X, Hesketh T. Sexual knowledge, attitudes and behaviors among undergraduate students in China-implications for sex education. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020; 17(18):6716. doi:10.3390/ijerph17186716.
Chen F. Gender, sexuality, and social change in contemporary China. Sex Cult. 2017;21(4):953-75. doi:10.1007/s12119-017-9435-9.
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Reproductive health of young people in Asia and the Pacific: a review of issues, policies and programmes. Bangkok: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and World Health Organization (WHO). 2015.
National Bureau of Statistics of China. China Statistical Yearbook 2020. [cited 2021 April 24]. Available from: http://www.stats.gov.cn/tjsj/ndsj/2020/indexch.htm
Shu C, Fu A, Lu J, Yin M, Chen Y, Qin T, et al. Association between age at first sexual intercourse and knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding reproductive health and unplanned pregnancy: a cross-sectional study. Public Health.2016;135:104-13. doi:10.1016/j.puhe.2016.01.021.
Liss-Levinsohn N, Coleman E, Brown L. A program of sexual assertiveness training for women. Couns Psychol. 1975;5(4):74-8. doi:10.1177/001100007500500413.
Morokoff PJ, Quina K, Harlow LL, Whitmire L, Grimley DM, Gibson PR, et al. Sexual assertiveness scale (SAS) for women: development and validation. J Pers Soc Psychol.1997;73(4):790-804. doi:10.1037//0022-3514.73. 4.790.
Ward LM, Jerald M, Avery L, Cole ER. Following their lead? Connecting mainstream media use to Black women’s gender beliefs and sexual agency. J Sex Res. 2020;57(2):200-12. doi:10.1080/00224499.2018.1554741.
Fletcher KD, Ward LM, Thomas K, Foust M, Levin D, Trinh S. Will it help? Identifying socialization discourses that promote sexual risk and sexual health among African American youth. J Sex Res. 2015;52(2):199-212. doi:10.1080/00224499.2013.853724.
Kim Y, Lee E, Lee H. Sexual double standard, dating violence recognition, and sexual assertiveness among university students in South Korea. Asian Nurs Res. 2019;13(1):47-52. doi:10.1016/j.anr.2019.01.003.
López-Alvarado S, Van Parys H, Cevallos-Neira A, Enzlin P. Latin American women’s beliefs, views and ideas about sexual assertiveness: a focus group study in Cuenca (Ecuador). J Sex Res. 2020;57(3):307-21. doi:10.1080/00224499.2019.1615031.
Sastre F, De La Rosa M, Ibanez GE, Whitt E, Martin SS, O’Connell DJ. Condom use preferences among Latinos in Miami-Dade: emerging themes concerning men’s and women’s culturally- ascribed attitudes and behaviors. Cult Health Sex. 2015;17(6):667-81. doi:10.1080/1369
Carter AD. Reducing sexual victimization on college campuses: the impact of a collegiate-level human sexual behavior course on students’ level of sexual assertiveness. Seton Hall University; 2019.
Tolman DL, Davis BR, Bowman CP. “That’s just how it is”: a gendered analysis of masculinity and femininity ideologies in adolescent girls’ and boys’ heterosexual relationships. J Adolesc Res. 2016;31(1):3-31. doi:10.1177/0743558415587325.
Wu H, Luo S, Espinosa-Hernández G, Klettner A, White TD, Li H. Relating gender to sex: gendered attitudes, sexual double standard, sexual intentions and behaviors in two Chinese adolescent samples. J Sex Res. 2021;58(1):29-40. doi:10.1080/00224499.2019.1695098.
Armstrong J, Thorpe S, Williams D. Sexual attitudes, religious commitment, and sexual risk behaviors among college-aged women. J Gend Stud. 2020:1-12. doi:10.1080/09589236.2020.1838888.
Allen KR, Jaramillo-Sierra AL. Feminist theory and research on family relationships: pluralism and complexity. Sex Roles. 2015;73(3):93-9. doi: 10.1007/s11199-015-0527-4.
Huang Y. Sexuality research and sex politics in 21st century of mainland China. 2019. In: Correa S, Parker R, editors. Sex politics: trends and tensions in the 21st century-contextual undercurrents. Rio de Janeiro: Sexuality Policy Watch; 2019. pp. 143-64.
Sandelowski M. Focus on research methods: what ever happened to qualitative research. Res Nurs Health. 2000; 23:334-40. doi: 10.1002/1 098-240x(200008)23:4<334::aid-nur9>3.0.co;2-g.
Braun B, Clarke V, Hayfield N, Terry G. Thematic analysis. 2019. In: Liamputtong P, editor. Handbook of research methods in health social sciences. Springer; 2019. pp. 843-60.
Lincoln YS, Guba EG. Naturalistic inquiry. London: Sage;1985.
Tong A, Sainsbury P, Craig J. Consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ): a 32-item checklist for interviews and focus groups. Int J Qual Health Care.2007;19(6):349-57. doi:10.1093/intqhc/mzm042.
Loshek E, Terrell HK. The development of the sexual assertiveness questionnaire (SAQ): a comprehensive measure of sexual assertiveness for women. J Sex Res. 2015;52(9):1017-27. doi:10.1080/00224499.2014.944970.
Kelley EL, Orchowski LM, Gidycz CA. Sexual victimization among college women: role of sexual assertiveness and resistance variables. Psychol Violence. 2016;6(2):243-52. doi:10.1037/a0039407.
Lee JY. Predictors of female college students’ relationship satisfaction: attachment and sexual assertiveness. Psychol Stud. 2017;62(1):70-4. doi:10.1007/s12646-017-0389-7.
Quina K, Harlow LL, Morokoff PJ, Burkholder G, Deiter PJ. Sexual communication in relationships: when words speak louder than actions. Sex Roles. 2000;42(7-8):523-49. doi:10.1023/A:1007043205155.
Wang H, Long L, Cai H, Wu Y, Xu J, Shu C, et al. Contraception and unintended pregnancy among unmarried female university students: a cross-sectional study from China. PLoS One. 2015;10(6):e0130212. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130212.
Manago AM, Ward LM, Aldana A. The sexual experience of Latino young adults in college and their perceptions of values about sex communicated by their parents and friends. Emerg Adulthood. 2015;3(1):14-23. doi:10.1177/2167696814536165.
Mastro S, Zimmer-Gembeck MJ. Let’s talk openly about sex: sexual communication, self-esteem and efficacy as correlates of sexual well-being. Eur J Dev Psychol. 2015; 12(5):579-98. doi:10.1080/17405629.2015.1054373.
Trinh SL, Ward LM, Day K, Thomas K, Levin D. Contributions of divergent peer and parent sexual messages to Asian American college students’ sexual behaviors. J Sex Res. 2014;51(2):208-20. doi:10.1080/00224499.2012.721099.
Seabrook RC, Ward LM, Cortina LM, Giaccardi S, Lippman JR. Girl power or powerless girl? Television, sexual scripts, and sexual agency in sexually active young women. Psychol Women Q. 2017;41(2):240-53. doi:10.1177/0361684316677028.
Chi X, Bongardt D, Hawk ST. Intrapersonal and interpersonal sexual behaviors of Chinese university students: gender differences in prevalence and correlates. J Sex Res. 2015;52(5):532-42. doi:10.1080/00224499.2014. 914131.
Bountress KE, Metzger IW, Maples-Keller JL, Gilmore AK. Reducing sexual risk behaviors: secondary analyses from a randomized controlled trial of a brief web-based alcohol intervention for underage, heavy episodic drinking college women. Addict Res Theory. 2017;25(4):302-9. doi:10.1080/16066359.2016.1271416.
Krahe B, Berger A, Vanwesenbeeck I, Bianchi G, Chliaoutakis J, Fernandez-Fuertes AA, et al. Prevalence and correlates of young people’s sexual aggression perpetration and victimization in 10 European countries:a multi-level analysis. Cult Health Sex. 2015;17(6):682-99. doi:10.1080/13691058.2014.989265.