Cultural attitudes and female sexual desire
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Sexual desire is a topic that is both taboo and yet heavily integrated into our society. The study of sexual desire has previously been highly inconsistent in terms of defining and operationalizing the term. Historically, sexual desire has been studied primarily in terms of indicators and ideals that fit more for men than for women. Current research points to the notion that sexual desire is experienced differently in men and women. This difference holds important implications for women in heterosexual relationships. Specifically, gender differences in experience and level of sexual desire, with women typically experiencing lower levels of desire than do men, might lead to relationship dissatisfaction and more blame toward the partner with lower desire. If the factors that affect sexual desire in women are not accurately explored and assessed, then current researchers and clinicians may be missing important information related to female sexual desire and subsequent couple functioning. Furthermore, in the United States, popular culture promotes the idea that women are sexual objects, and thus it seems to follow that female sexual well-being and desire for sex in and of itself are undervalued and seldom investigated. Moreover, what little research exists is highly Eurocentric and highlights sexual desire in samples consisting of mostly European American women. Presently, individuals who identify as Mexican-American fall in the largest and fastest growing minority group in the United States. Because of this fact, the current study explored the experience of and predictors of sexual desire in women who identified as Mexican American by comparing and contrasting these women with European American women on relevant cultural and sexual constructs. Findings from the current study highlight some distinctions and similarities among Mexican American women and Anglo women, and the importance of cultural messages on the female experience of sexual desire. The current study was an important step in expanding the study of sexual desire.