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Women’s sexual desire, while being a common experience, is subjective and elusive in nature (Meana, 2010). Desire has typically been researched from a heteronormative standpoint which may inaccurately represent the nuanced ways in which women experience desire. Since women are socialized as selfless and nurturing ( Conley et al., 2011; Keifer & Sanchez, 2007), understanding their own desires and communicating those desires to partners may be complicated. This qualitative study used a feminist perspective to examine the ways in which women fulfill, communicate, and experience sexual desire. A research team recruited 21 self-identified women to participate in semi-structured interviews, using a purposive sampling strategy to achieve greater demographic diversity. Thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2013) was used to analyze the coded transcripts and resulted in three overarching themes: (1) Let’s (Not) Talk About Sex, (2) (Un)Fulfilled, and (3) Journey to Liberation. The results suggest that women are often hesitant in communicating their desires to partners. Women expressed fulfilling their partners’ desires absent of their own. When women do fulfill their desires, it is often without an end goal of orgasm. Participants’ experiences with desire change throughout their lifetimes, often becoming more empowered in understanding and communicating their desires as they experience different relationships and gain deeper understanding of their own bodies and preferences.



Thesis Comittee

Dr. Teresa K. King, Thesis Advisor
Dr. Melissa Brandon, Committee Member
Dr. Sandra Neargarder, Committee Member

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Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

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