Negotiation in Teenage Girls' Sexually Motivated Situations: Achievement of Intentions Using Different Negotiation Strategies

By Suvivuo, Pia; Tossavainen, Kerttu et al. | Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, Annual 2011 | Go to article overview

Negotiation in Teenage Girls' Sexually Motivated Situations: Achievement of Intentions Using Different Negotiation Strategies


Suvivuo, Pia, Tossavainen, Kerttu, Kontula, Osmo, Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality


Introduction

Adolescence is a period of complex and multidimensional transition between childhood and adulthood that involves many biological, cognitive, and socio-emotional changes. The developmental process of early adolescence corresponds roughly to the junior high school years and includes most pubertal changes (Santrock, 2008). One of the important tasks in adolescence is to "process" sexuality, sexual roles, and healthy sexual behavior. During early adolescence, girls work up personal interests, goals, and values, and they learn and practice achievement of intention and negotiation in their relationships. In the promotion of sexual health, adolescents are enabled to increase their control over, identify, and realize their intentions and desires, satisfy their needs, and improve their sexual health (Aggleton & Campbell, 2000; WHO, 2010).

Adolescent girls' ability to communicate and negotiate effectively about their sexual desires and intentions is necessary for their sexual health and satisfying sexual experiences. Failure to do so may place them at risk of unintended pregnancy, STDs, sexual violence, and other negative sexual experiences (Rickert et al., 2002). It has been asserted that adolescent girls' communication and negotiation strategies with their partner also significantly affect their safe sex practices, like condom use. Many previous researchers support this assumption (Catania et al., 1989; Weissman et al., 1989; Strader et al., 1992; Sheeran et al., 1999; Kordoutis et al., 2000; Stone & Ingham, 2002; Holschneider & Alexander, 2003; Manlove et al., 2003, 2004; Noar et al., 2006; Widman et al., 2006). However, some studies (e.g. Lock et al., 1998) have shown different results; communication does not automatically lead to safe sex practices.

Negotiation differs from general communication. In negotiation, two partners try to work out a solution to a concrete question, like sexual activity, and try to attune their personal intentions. Negotiation includes reciprocity and statement of clear personal intentions, which means letting the partner know what is desired, and discussing the matter with him/her. A person's intention in performing an action is his/her specific purpose in doing so, the goal he/she is aiming for or intends to accomplish; this element distinguishes negotiation from communication, dialogue, and discussion. Negotiation about sexual issues is a complex social interaction where the individual's as well as the partner's dynamics need to be taken into account along with the specific circumstances. It requires special skills and knowledge, like assertiveness, it contains impression management, and it requires constant effort, even among those who have made the most progress in incorporating it (Lear, 1995; Ridge, 2004, 2007). Negotiation is necessary particularly when sexual partners are unaware of each other's intentions or when they have different intentions, for example, concerning contraception (DeVisser, 2004).

The "girlpower" movement in the twentieth century has produced a "new" girlhood in Western culture. Girls have defined themselves as independent, successful, and self-inventing participants of society. This change in youth culture enables young girls to empower themselves, be more assertive, show their aggression, and take their place in different forums. Being heard and seen by others has become one of the most important socio-political objectives for adolescent girls in society as well as in their social relationships (Harris, 2004; Aapola et al., 2005). Young girls expect good-quality interactions in their dating relationships. They desire reciprocal contact, and a relationship that enables sharing of thoughts and feelings (Nare, 2005).

In Finland, attitudes towards sexuality and sex education are positive. Sex education has been offered in schools since the 1970s, nowadays as part of the national curriculum (FNBE, 2004). …

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