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J Sex Res. 2012;49(1):1-12. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2011.585523. Epub 2011 Jun 24.

Women's negotiation of cunnilingus in college hookups and relationships.

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Department of Sociology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.


Using in-depth interviews with 43 college women who were, on average, 21 years old (SD = 0.79), the authors explored women's attitudes toward and experiences of cunnilingus. The authors found that cunnilingus posed interactional challenges for women, but that these varied by relationship context. Drawing on scripting theory, the authors argue that the sexual scripts available to contemporary American college students assume cunnilingus in relationships, but not in hookups, where the incorporation of the practice is more contested. For individual women, tension emerged when their preferences for cunnilingus contradicted the sexual script of the relationship context. Women who desired cunnilingus in hookups had to be assertive to get it, whereas those who did not want cunnilingus in hookups were relieved that it was not expected. The taken-for-granted nature of cunnilingus in relationships was a source of pleasure for women who enjoyed it and of difficulty for women who wished to avoid it. In relationships, some women's reluctance about cunnilingus was transformed by men's enthusiasm. More generally, this study implies that ambiguity in sexual scripts may heighten the interactional challenges of sex by creating uncertainty about expectations and gaps between sexual scripts and individual preferences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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