Sexual Objectification, Self-Objectification, Body Appreciation, and Quality of the Sexual Relationship in Relation to Preventative Sexual Health Behaviors in a Sample of Emerging Adult Womenedit
Poor body image has negative consequences for women’s sexual health, but existing scholarship in this area fails to account for the relationship context in which sexual behaviors occur. Furthermore, the majority of existing research in this area focuses on pathology. A better understanding of how objectification, body image, relationship quality, and sexual behaviors are related can help scholars and practitioners identify appropriate avenues for intervention. This dissertation marries two theoretical frameworks—objectification theory and relational-cultural theory—to provide a better understanding of the relationships between sexual objectification, self-objectification, body appreciation, quality of the sexual relationship, and preventative sexual health behaviors. A theoretically- and empirically-informed model was tested using Structural Equation Modeling (N = 399). The findings suggest that when women internalize objectification, it may have a negative impact on their body image. Further, findings indicate that body image is related to preventative sexual health behaviors directly and indirectly through relationship quality. Recommendations for social work practice, education, policy, and research are discussed.