Exploring the Lived Experience of Female Users of Online Sexual Activities in the UK

Prof Doc Thesis

Cadart, C. 2023. Exploring the Lived Experience of Female Users of Online Sexual Activities in the UK. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8x12y
AuthorsCadart, C.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

The Internet has long been considered a platform that provides easy access to sexual content, while also offering anonymity and affordability. In spite of its increased prevalence, an insufficient number of studies have focused on the experiences of females who participate in online sexual activity. It may be necessary for therapists to support females who present with concerns regarding cybersex usage; however, research indicates clinical practitioners do not consider themselves suitably prepared to work effectively with such clients, due to insufficient training and a general lack of empirical research in the literature. Thus, it appears there is a need for further research in this field to offer insight and guidance for clinicians.

This qualitative research aimed to explore how females within the United Kingdom experience their online sexual lives, and the positive and negative feelings that such experiences engender. The phenomenological epistemology and relativist ontology underpinning this research focused on comprehending the participants’ subjective lived experiences; this emphasis appears to be in line with the philosophical basis of counselling psychology. Four female participants, all older than 18 years old, who had been online in the previous three months to engage in online sexual activity, took part in online, semi-structured interviews. Interview transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, which generated three master themes: 1) an enticing space; 2) paradoxical attitudes; and 3) the painful ramifications. Each theme contained a number of sub-themes. Novel insights with regard to the interplay between how women make meaning and their responses emphasise the multifaced and complicated experience of participants with respect to online sexual activity.

The study findings are reviewed with respect to the broader literature. Various consequences for practice are considered, including that clinicians should be encouraged to diverge from a pathological model to one that promotes the well-being of women and validates their emotions and experiences. It is expected that giving insight into the lived experiences of women who participate in online sexual activity could enable practitioners to empathise with and show more understanding of them when they are seeking support.

Keywordsonline sexual activities; lived experience of female users; qualitative research of cybersex amongst women
PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8x12y
File Access Level
Publication dates
Online10 Jan 2024
Publication process dates
Completed07 Dec 2023
Deposited10 Jan 2024
Copyright holder© 2023, The Author
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