Reciprocity, Partner Pressure, and Emotional Labor: Women Discuss Negotiations Around Oral and Anal Sex

Breanne Fahs, Eric Swank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Tensions between emotional labor, agency, entitlement, and coercion all underlie women’s ability or inability to negotiate, consent to, and refuse oral and anal sex. In this study, we analyzed semi-structured interviews with twenty women from a diverse 2014 community sample collected in a large Southwestern U.S. city in order to examine the context around women’s negotiations of oral and anal sex, particularly how, when, why, and with whom they engage in, and refuse, such activities. There were three themes in how women negotiated oral and anal sex with their partner(s): (1) not expecting sexual reciprocity; (2) partner pressure; and (3) emotional labor. Implications for how women negotiate sex, and what meanings they bring to these negotiations, are explored. Women’s beliefs about (men’s) sexual entitlement and cultural expectations for non-vaginal sex further complicate women’s negotiations of oral and anal sex as well as their ability to enthusiastically consent to such activities. Clinical practice implications and the importance of clinicians both broadening definitions of sex and openly discussing women’s entitlement to refuse sex are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-234
Number of pages18
JournalSexuality and Culture
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Anal sex
  • Emotional labor
  • Gender roles
  • Oral sex
  • Rape Culture
  • Reciprocity
  • Sexual health
  • Sexual negotiation
  • Unwanted sex
  • Women’s sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Cultural Studies


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