The Psychosocial Benefits of Unsafe Sex
This chapter uses study findings to show that unsafe sex is part of a psychosocial strategy for maintaining one's status and sense of self -- a strategy that involves telling patterned narratives (as regarding a partner's faithfulness) and acting out scripts (as by engaging in unsafe sex) that optimistically confirm the quality of one's choice of a partner and so of one's relationship with him. Economic motives do, in some cases, play a role in encouraging some women's unsafe sex (e.g., Campbell 1990; Ward 1993a; Worth 1989) but, as Chapter 6 showed, purely materialist or economic approaches to urban minority women's risk-taking are inadequate (cf. Kline et al. 1992).
Such approaches ascribe the sex-related profit seeking motivations of many inner-city prostitutes or sex workers to all inner-city minority women, despite the fact that sex workers comprise only a small portion of inner-city female populations. Moreover, they disregard women's own testimony about their self-sufficiency, the high rate of unemployment among inner-city men of color, and the fact that inner-city men can and do seek and receive money from girlfriends ( Weinberg and Williams 1988; Liebow 1967). In addition to these flaws, materialist models of inner-city heterosexual coupling may be further diminished by the relative sizes of condom using and non-using women's paychecks (these were bigger, on average, for non-users in this study), and the relative amounts of money that users and non-users receive from men (these were lower, on average, for non-users). Findings from this research suggest that emotional and sociocultural factors are more important determinants of most Black inner-city women's condom use decisions than financial considerations are.
The connotations of condoms, which implicate users as philanderers and carriers of disease, need not be confronted if condoms are not used.