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UBC Theses and Dissertations

From disenfranchisement to integration : young women's narratives of embodiment and sexual satisfaction Beyer, Chelsea


Despite sexual satisfaction being recognized as an important aspect of general and sexual health, research of women’s sexual satisfaction has been limited. Age and gender trends in level of sexual satisfaction are evident, with young women reporting less sexual satisfaction than older women and young men (Fahs &. Swank, 2011). A proposed explanation for this gender discrepancy in sexual satisfaction is the sexual objectification of women, leading to self-objectification (Fahs & Swank, 2011). Self-objectification can also be understood in terms of embodiment, a construct which also appears to have a strong relationship with women’s sexual satisfaction (Piran, 2016; Tolman, Bowman, & Fahs, 2014). Accordingly, this research study sought to elucidate the role of embodiment in young women’s narratives of sexual satisfaction. Seven women, 20-30 years of age, participated in a set of individual interviews, as per Arvay-Buchanan’s (2003) collaborative narrative method: the first was a semi-structured interview inquiring about women’s experiences of embodiment, and the second consisted of collaborative interpretive readings of the interview transcript, resulting in the co-construction of narrative accounts. Thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2012) of narrative accounts resulted in identification of eight common themes: (1) Messages from Others About the Body and Sex; 2) Physical and Sexual Abuse; (3) Disintegration and Disenfranchisement of the Body and Sexuality, (4) Resisting, Challenging, and Deconstructing Messages and Expectations from Others; (5) Freedom and Autonomy; (6) Avenues of Healing and Reconnection; (7) Positive Experience of Embodiment; (8) and A Positive Feedback Loop of Experiences of Embodiment and Sex. Themes emerged in patterned ways, illustrating a journey through early, middle, and later phases of the narrative accounts. Implications of the findings and recommendations for counselling psychology practice, education, social policy, and future research are discussed.

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