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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. For about 30 years, soon after the onset of the AIDS epidemic, sexual-health messaging has emphasized personal responsibility for using condoms to protect from acquiring or transmitting HIV or other sexually transmitted infections. We analyzed s—excuses and justifications—from qualitative interviews with adults who had unprotected sex in the past 3 months with at least two different partners met online ages 18—50, mean: Many participants made excuses that aimed to defer responsibility for unprotected sex: they claimed that consistently practicing safer sex was impossible, that they got carried away by sexual passion, that they were inebriated, that they were influenced by emotional or psychological problems, or they put fault on their partners.
Participants also provided justifications, claiming that unsafe sex had been acceptable because the risks taken were likely minimal or negotiated with their partner. Understanding the s heterosexual adults offer to excuse and justify condomless sex with partners met online can be helpful in developing prevention messages that debunk these explanations for their behavior.
M any studies have documented how men who have sex with men, who use hookup websites and mobile applications, are at high risk for HIV and sexually transmitted infections STIs. However, a heavy reliance on samples of adolescents, college students, or people seen at STI clinics limited the generalizability of these findings. Condoms are a highly effective barrier to HIV and many other STIs 12 and, after decades of HIV prevention messaging, people are expected to know when they should use condoms and Adult seeking sex tonight McKenzie have the personal agency to do so.
Using condoms for casual sex should now be well engrained into the cultural scripts informing heterosexual men and women's sexual behavior. People's s tend to consist of explanations that they hope will elicit sympathy or understanding and depict them as less blameworthy.
s are generally of two types: they can be excuses in which actors acknowledge that the behavior was problematic but deny full responsibility for the act or they can be justifications in which actors accept responsibility for the act but deny its harmful consequences or claim there were mitigating circumstances. While a few studies have examined the s of gay and bisexual men for engaging in unprotected sex without using Scott and Lyman's framework, 132021 heterosexuals' s for such behavior have not been examined. A notable exception is Rhodes and Cusick's use of the s framework in their study of unprotected sex among gay, bisexual, and heterosexual HIV-positive men and women.
Excuses for unprotected sex included: accidents i.
Justifications to make unprotected sex more acceptable included minimizing the risks associated with the act e. Male participants also appealed to their biological drives, claiming it was difficult to think about using condoms once they were aroused. Conversely, female participants said it was difficult to tell a male partner to put a condom on once he was excited. Much still needs to be learned about the s provided by heterosexuals for unprotected sex although there are some data about the typical challenges they perceive regarding consistent condom use.
It is reasonable to expect gender-specific s of unprotected sex. Indeed, cultural discourse presents the male sex drive as fundamentally biologically driven and as spontaneous, powerful, unmanageable, and therefore, an obstacle to consistent condom use. The sexual double standard makes both unprotected sex and casual sex Adult seeking sex tonight McKenzie acceptable among men than women 2930 and there is some evidence that having sex outside of a committed relationship still carries some stigma for women.
One of the most common explanations women offered for having engaged in casual sex is that alcohol was responsible for lowering their inhibitions and making them behave atypically. There is, however, some evidence both that casual sex is becoming increasingly commonplace among heterosexuals and that the double standard is waning, making some women more willing to express a desire for casual sex. In the present study, we analyzed the s offered by heterosexual men and women for condomless sex with sexual partners met online to find out about how they excused or justified deviations from safer-sex norms.
We recruited a study sample of men and women. To be eligible to participate in the research, individuals had to be between 18 and 50 years; self-identify as heterosexual; have had sex only with persons of the opposite sex in the prior 3 years; in the prior 3 months, have had unprotected vaginal or anal sex with at least two different partners initially met Adult seeking sex tonight McKenzie self-identify as black non-Hispanic, Hispanic of any race, or white non-Hispanic; be fluent in English and, at the time of the interview, have lived in the United States for at least the last 10 years; and to have resided in the metropolitan areas of New York City, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, or Washington, D.
At the time of the data collection between August and Januarythese areas had the highest HIV prevalence in the continental United States. The final enrolled sample Table 1 comprised 75 males and 75 females, equally divided among white, black, and Hispanic participants.
Participants were recruited online on websites where heterosexual men and women look for romantic or sexual partners. Data were collected using an online questionnaire and an in-depth interview conducted over the phone. The questionnaire collected information about participants' demographic characteristics and sexual preferences and behavior, while the interview allowed them to discuss at length their experiences with meeting partners online and their sexual encounters with them. A complete description of the recruitment and screening procedures has been published in a report of a different aim of this study.
The data analyzed for this report come for the in-depth interviews. One of the study aims was to investigate how relationships developed online and progressed to meeting offline, to sexual contact, and eventually to unprotected sex. In the online questionnaire completed before the interview, participants had to report on their behavior with two partners, initially met online, with whom they had unprotected sex in the prior 3 months they did not have to be their most recent partners.
In the interviews, participants were asked to talk about each of the two partners separately. After discussing how they had met online and eventually offline, participants were asked about the first time they had sex with each partner and, if different, about the first time they had condomless vaginal or anal sex with these partners. A series of questions in the interview guide aimed at eliciting the participants' constructions of the circumstances surrounding the first unprotected sexual encounter with each partner e. While coding the portions of the interviews where participants explained why they had unprotected sex with their partners, we found that most participants produced an.
Because the Adult seeking sex tonight McKenzie asked participants how they felt about having had unprotected sex without expressing judgment, participants were not required to make an. The prevalence of different types of s reported below thus reflects the proportion of participants who spontaneously offered an for their behavior and might have been higher if we had systematically asked them about whether different kinds of excuses or justifications applied to the situation of unprotected sex they were discussing.
However, this might have artificially inflated the prevalence as participants may have seized on excuses or justifications we proposed. The presented here are an analysis, using the s framework, of the sections of the interviews where participants offered an excuse or a justification for having had unprotected sex with each of their partners. Each explanation that met the definition of an excuse accepts the behavior may have had negative consequences but denies full responsibility or a justification accepts responsibility but denies the negative consequences was so classified.
Scott and Lyman who developed the s framework have defined different types of excuses and justifications that provided further to organize the data. Next, specific codes and analytic memos were used to further specify how participants used the different types of s to reveal any patterns associated with age and gender. Table 2 outlines the different types of excuses and justifications made by participants and Table 3 shows how frequently the different types of s were volunteered.
The frequencies are compared between male and female participants, and between the younger half of the sample ages 18—32 and the older half ages 33— For the vast majority of participants, the first act of unprotected sex was vaginal intercourse. A few participants discussed having also had condomless anal sex during the first unprotected encounter but did not seem to perceive one as riskier as or more warranting of an than the other. However, most participants understood they had potentially exposed themselves to the risk of acquiring HIV and STIs from their partner. The s below thus aimed at justifying having exposed themselves to HIV and STIs through unprotected vaginal and, in a few cases, anal intercourse.
Participants making excuses acknowledged the objectionable nature of their behavior, but denied full responsibility for it.
They indicated that they were aware of the potential negative consequences of unprotected sex and did not condone such behavior, but said that circumstances had prevented them from behaving otherwise. Participants making s used commonly accepted reasons for their behavior in an attempt to be judged less harshly, if not completely excused. Participants' excuses for unprotected intercourse included the following statements: practicing safer sex required preparation and was subject to unforeseen complexities, they got carried away in the heat of the moment by biological sexual impulses, they could not think rationally because they were intoxicated or experiencing emotional challenges that impaired their judgment, or their partner was responsible for the unprotected encounter.
When asked why they had not used a condom, many participants explained that they had intended to but that something prevented them from doing so. I wasn't planning on two or three times so I guess there wasn't one. So we just ended up not using one after that. These s, like many others, invoked the notion that safer sex requires careful planning that at times can be foiled by unforeseen events. These participants made a point to note that they usually had protected sex but evaded responsibility for unprotected sex by referring to the atypical circumstances in which it occurred.
Another kind of excuse based on the planning and preparation that safer sex requires was that unprotected sex occurred because participants had not expected to have sex and therefore were unprepared. Ironically, even though most participants had met Adult seeking sex tonight McKenzie least one and, in many cases, both partners on hookup websites that facilitated casual sexual encounters, a frequent excuse for not using condoms was that they did not expect to have sex during their in-person meeting. For example, a year-old black female said that, after a first encounter during which they had used condoms, she met again with her partner a second time and they had unprotected sex.
When asked why they ended up having sex without condoms during that second meeting, she gave the excuse that it was because it was not planned:. I had no plans at that moment to do anything. That [sex] wasn't even in my mind. I don't know what was on his mind. I don't even think it was on his mind, because he didn't bring anything with him. I didn't have anything myself. He came over, we hung out, we chilled. Several male participants appealed to the idea that safer sex required not only preparation but also a certain mental discipline.
These participants presented safer sex as something that required so much mental resolve that one should be excused for occasional lapses. It just slipped my mind actually. It shouldn't be something like that. You can't really be doing stuff like that. You know?
This participant made an implicit appeal to the human incapacity to always make the right decision i. By mentioning that he felt guilty, down, and stupid in response to his inappropriate behavior, he appeared contrite, probably hoping to be judged less harshly. The participants quoted above fully acknowledged that using condoms would have been preferable, contended that they tried to do so, expressed regret for not having done so, and excused their actions by claiming unforeseeable, beyond-their-control circumstances.
Men and women made these excuses about as frequently but they were more common among participants in the younger half of the sample. Participants often claimed that a powerful obstacle to consistent safer sex was an irrepressible sex drive. A year-old Hispanic male explained his sex drive made him forget about using protection the first time they had sex, which was at their second meeting. There was never any talk, and that first night was heat of the moment kind of situation. It's hot, it's passionate. I'm not joking when it was like spur of the moment.
Hispanic male, age Others claimed that their physical state of arousal clouded their judgment and influenced them to make a poor decision. I told her that I forgot to get condoms and she said that there was a convenience store like four or five blocks away. I'd rather just keep it going. These s presented the sex drive as separate from the rational mind, as uncontrollable, and as the culprit in their unprotected sex.
This excuse was a little more frequent among younger participants. Also, notably, women appealed to biological drives as much as men and explained their Adult seeking sex tonight McKenzie in risky sex as the result of a surrendering to powerful sexual impulses. It happened very, very quickly. I wasn't being rational. I don't. It's foolish to behave that way. I honestly never do that, you know what I mean; I normally don't let somebody do something like that. The passion really got away with me. I normally have more of a clear-headed mind but for some reason I lost myself in the moment, which was stupid.
I regret that. Another kind of discussed by Scott and Lyman was appeals to defeasibility.
Many participants made the excuse that alcohol consumption, or more rarely marijuana use, had impaired their ability to use condoms or to say no when facing a potentially risky encounter. Appeals to intoxication were in most cases made by younger participants i.
The excuse of intoxication was in some cases offered along with other excuses.Adult seeking sex tonight McKenzie
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s for Unprotected Sex with Partners Met Online from Heterosexual Men and Women from Large US Metropolitan Areas