'Would ya, could ya ?' Male perspectives on the meaning of penetrative sex, and the issues involved in forgoing this activity in their emotionally committed relationships with women

Prof Doc Thesis

Williams, Barney 2007. 'Would ya, could ya ?' Male perspectives on the meaning of penetrative sex, and the issues involved in forgoing this activity in their emotionally committed relationships with women. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsWilliams, Barney
TypeProf Doc Thesis

This thesis has arisen primarily out of academic and clinical work conducted in the
field of 'intersex'. Many women diagnosed with intersex conditions elect genital
surgery as adults in order that they may engage in penetrative sexual intercourse
with men. This decision is based not on any expectation of increased sexual
pleasure for the women themselves but rather on an assumption that male partners
would not accept anything 'less'. The results of such surgeries are often
disappointing on a number of levels and many women still report pain during
intercourse post-surgery. A major aim of this current research was to 'test out' this
assumption by asking a community sample of men about the significance they attach
to penetrative intercourse in the context of their emotionally committed relationships
with women. The men were also asked if there were any circumstances under which
they would be prepared to forgo intercourse in this context and, if so, what might help
them adapt to such a situation. Seven men were interviewed using a semi-structured
interview format and the data was analysed using a mixed method of thematic
analysis (TA) and limited Foucauldian discourse analysis (PDA). TA revealed three
themes relating to the meaning intercourse held for the men personally: i) Physical
aspects; ii) Power and control; and iii) Mutuality and connection. Two themes were
also identified in relation to how the men felt they might be helped to adapt to living
without intercourse iv) Alternatives to intercourse and v) Honesty and openness. The
PDA explored how the men drew on two contrasting discursive constructions of sex
and sexuality, a sociobiological discourse, or sex as reproductive drive and a
humanistic discourse or sex as recreation and relationship building. These results
are discussed in the context of previous research both in the field of male sexuality
and intersex. Implications for woman diagnosed with intersex conditions and for
those professionals involved in their psychological care are also outlined.

Publication dates
PrintMay 2007
Publication process dates
Deposited09 Jun 2014
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