Professor Laina Y. Bay-Cheng, Assistant Professor Noelle M. St. Vil and PhD student Hannah Ginn publish, "Young women’s sexuality in black and white: Racial differences in appraisals of sexually active young women"

Published November 18, 2019

Laina Y. Bay-Cheng

Laina Y. Bay-Cheng.

Noelle M. St. Vil

Noelle M. St. Vil.

Congratulations to Professor Laina Y. Bay-Cheng, Assistant Professor Noelle M. St. Vil and PhD student Hannah Ginn on the publication of their article "Young women’s sexuality in black and white: Racial differences in appraisals of sexually active young women."

Bay-Cheng, L. Y., St. Vil, N. M., & Ginn, H. G. (2019). Young women’s sexuality in black and white: Racial differences in appraisals of sexually active young women. Journal of Sex Research.

Abstract

Evidence suggests that U.S. attitudes are increasingly accepting of young women’s rights to sexual self-expression and activity. However, such support may not be unequivocal or uniformly offered and received. It is especially unclear how the endorsement of young women’s sexuality varies by race, both in who holds these supportive views and in who benefits from them. We examined whether appraisals of a hypothetical sexually active young woman would vary by her race (Black or White) and/or a participant’s (Black or White). Analyzing a sample of 416 U.S. adults (aged 18–40) comprised of equivalent numbers of Black women, Black men, White women, and White men, we found that across vignette subject and participant race, a sexually active young woman was rated as more competent than likable and that Black participants’ appraisals of a sexually active woman (Black or White) were less favorable than White participants’. Against our hypothesis, we found no quantitative evidence of bias against a Black sexually active young woman; however, post-hoc qualitative analysis of participants’ comments cast doubt on this apparent racial symmetry. We consider these findings in the context of ongoing racial/misogynist sexual stigmatization of Black women and the consequent attitudes held by – and about – them.