Negotiating Safer Sex: The Dynamics of African-American Relationships
Lynn Carol Miller /> University of Southern California
Diane M. Burns University of Alama
Sadina Rothspan University of Southern California
Sex. Arguably, no arena of relations between men and women is so fraught with inequities. From ancient Greece to more recent times, when women were in short supply, they were often highly "valued"; still, men often controlled whom women would marry, whether they could be sold into slavery, divorced, or forced into prostitution. At other times, when women were in overabundance, they tended to be "devalued." In such times, Guttentag and Secord ( 1983) argued, men tend to be less committed to a single relationship, more likely to de-emphasize love and marriage, and more likely to engage in transient sexual relationships.
At least one current American population exhibits this type of sex ratio imbalance: African Americans. Since 1960, the ratio of men to women among African Americans has been low ( Guttentag& Secord, 1983), especially among those who are young (16 to 42 years old) and unmarried. And, in line with Guttentag and Secord's argument, with an overabundance of women, there appear to be corresponding differences in the sexual attitudes and behaviors of African American men and women ( Fullilove, Fullilove, Haynes,& Gross, 1990). Men are more likely than women to endorse premarital sexual relations ( Belcastro, 1985; Reiss, 1964), to have more sexual partners, and to engage in more extramarital affairs than women ( Anderson & Dahlberg, 1992; Weinberg & Williams, 1988).