Academic journal article
By Smith, Laurie A.
The Journal of Sex Research , Vol. 40, No. 4
Women comprised over one quarter of all new AIDS cases in the U.S. in 2001, and heterosexual transmission of HIV was the main identified mode of transmission for women (CDC, 2001). Women report lower rates of condom use than males (Pugatch et al., 2000) and researchers note that condom use is complicated for women because the most common type of condom is worn by males (Simoni, Walters, & Nero, 2000). Gender differences have been found in factors such as attitudes toward condoms (Campbell, Peplau, & DeBro, 1992; Helweg-Larsen & Collins, 1994), intentions to use condoms (Morrison, Gillmore, & Baker, 1995; von Haefton, Fishbein, Kaspryzk, & Montano, 2000), attitudes toward buying or carrying condoms (Jadack, Hyde, & Keller, 1995), and negotiating condom use with a partner (Carter, McNair, Corbin, & Williams, 1999; DeBro, Campbell, & Peplau, 1994).
Another significant issue raised in regard to gender differences and condom use is that social norms and relatively fewer resources (e.g., lower incomes) may affect the power of women to control their sexual interactions with men (Amaro, 1995; Bajos & Marquet, 2000; Gutierrez, Oh, & Gillmore, 2000). Of concern is that power inequities lead women to acquiesce to noncondom use when they want a condom used but a male partner does not (unwanted noncondom use). This specific reason for noncondom use indicates a lack of power when powerlessness may be defined as engaging in activities because of the influence of a more powerful party (Emerson, 1962; Raven, 1992).
In qualitative studies with populations such as female injection drug users or females who are partners of injection drug users (Worth, 1989), women over 30 (Maxwell & Boyle, 1995), and women ages 16 to 21 (Holland, Ramazanoglu, Scott, Sharpe, & Thompson, 1992), male partners were identified as barriers to condom use. Quantitative studies with women have linked higher levels of condom use to perceived control over condom use
(Cabral, Pulley, Artz, Brill, & Macaluso, 1998); to "sexual power," defined as the expectation that the male partner would not get angry, violent, or refuse to have sex if the woman requested condom use (Gomez & Marin, 1996); to perceived influence over a partners' condom use (Kline & Vanlandingham, 1994); and to having a partner who did not resist condom use (Wingood & DiClementi, 1998).
However, in the above studies, Cabral et al. (1998) noted that only 5% of the women reported no control over their partners' condom use and over 70% of the women in Kline and Vanlandingham's (1994) study perceived they had a lot of power over their partners' condom use. On average, the women in Gomez and Marin's (1996) study thought their partners would probably not react negatively to a request to use a condom.
Kline, Kline, and Oken (1992) concluded that minority women often retain sexual decision-making power in relationships. Fullilove, Fullilove, Hanes, and Gross (1990) found that the low-income minority women in their study did not voice a fear of bringing up condom use with a partner, although the researchers felt it was still possible this fear did exist. Among a group of minority women, Harrison (1995) found that measures of resource power, such as education or employment, were better predictors of condom use than was power in their relationships. College females in Chan and Fishbein's study (1993) reported that telling a partner to use a condom was difficult, yet under their control.
In a study which included a male comparison group, Miller, Burns, and Rothspan (1995) found that 36% of the women and 28% of the men among African Americans in a community setting had at some time in the past received a negative response from a partner regarding using a condom. Gutierrez et al. (2000) found no gender differences among male and female adolescents in condom self-efficacy, defined as the perceived ability to discuss condom use and get a partner to agree to condom use. …