Perceptions of the onset of sexual experiences of young women
Watson, Juann Michelle
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This dissertation is a phenomenological qualitative study that explored the onset of sexual experiences of young women. The study examined the young women's perceptions of (1) the relationship between the onset of their first sexual experiences and exposure to emotional, social and physical risks and (2) factors that mitigate or exacerbate the onset of such risks. Data were collected from 22 young women, 18-25, who are students at a New York City Community College, using semi-structured guided interviews. Each young woman participated in two semi-structured interviews: An interview about their first sexual experience and a follow-up interview concerning themes that emerged across the first interview. The central research question was addressed: How do young women describe their first sexual experience with men and what are the meanings given to these experiences? This question was addressed through an inductive, thematically-oriented analysis which identified the young women's feelings of regret and self-image. It also gave insight into their lack of sexual knowledge, their exposure to risk behaviors and the conflicts that many had with their religious beliefs and their feelings of desire. This analysis also revealed the profound consequences that many of them are presently being faced with. Implications of the current findings on the expansion and possible restructuring of programs and policies are discussed.