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Female university students' preferences for different types of sexual relationships: implications for gender-based violence prevention programs and policies.

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Ruiz-Eugenio, Laura  ORCID logo
Racionero-Plaza, Sandra 
Duque, Elena 
Puigvert, Lidia 


BACKGROUND: Gender-based violence among young women is a growing problem worldwide. The consequences of this victimization have been well reported in the scientific literature, among which negative health outcomes stand out. The factors influencing this problem are many; one highlighted by research is socialization into a dominant coercive discourse that associates sexual-affective attraction to males with violent attitudes and behaviors, while in turn, such discourse empties males with egalitarian behaviors from sexual attractiveness. This coercive discourse may be shaping the sexual preferences of female youth. The current paper explores young women's preferences for different types of sexual relationships and, more particularly, for what type of sexual affective relationships they coercively preferred men with violent attitudes and behavior. METHODS: A quantitative, mixed-design vignette study was conducted with 191 college females in Spain. We focused the analysis only on responses about vignettes including narratives of men with violent attitudes and behaviors. In addition, we examined whether participants would report higher coerced preferences for violent men when asked about the coerced preferences of their female friends than when asked about their own preferences. RESULTS: Only 28.95% of participants responded that their female friends would prefer a young man with violent behavior for a stable relationship, meanwhile 58.42% would do it for hooking up. When reporting about themselves, the difference was greater: 28.42% would prefer a young man with violent behavior for hooking up and just 5.78% for a stable relationship. CONCLUSIONS: The dominant coercive discourse that links attractiveness to people with violent attitudes and behaviors may be explaining the results obtained in this study. The findings can help eliminate the stereotype largely adopted by some intervention and prevention programs which assume that gender-based violence occurs mainly in stable relationships, considering that falling in love is the reason that lead women to suffer from violence. Our results can also support health professionals and others serving young women to enhance their identification of gender violence victimization, as well as our findings point to the need to include the evidence of gender violence in sporadic relationships in prevention programs and campaigns addressed to young women.



Dating violence, Dominant coercive discourse, Gender violence, Intervention and prevention programs, Risk factors, Social influence, Socialization, Young women, Adolescent, Female, Gender-Based Violence, Humans, Policy, Sexual Behavior, Spain, Students, Universities, Young Adult

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BMC Womens Health

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (659299)
European Social Fund (Ramon y Cajal RYC-2015-17533)