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The Kinsey Institute Grant-In-Aid Program for Graduate Students and Faculty Mentors

The Kinsey Institute confers sexuality research grants to emerging scholars through the The Kinsey Institute Grant-in-Aid program. This program is supported by donations from Friends of The Kinsey Institute, and organized by local Indiana University Friends, Michael Reece, Debby Herbenick, and Kathleen Baldwin.

2007 and 2008 Indiana University Recipients

Laurie Legocki, Applied Health Science, School of HPER
Kathryn R. Macapagal, M.Ed., Psychological & Brain Sciences
Christopher Fisher, Applied Health Science, School of HPER
Sonya Satinsky, Applied Health Science, School of HPER
Rose Hartzell, Applied Health Science, School of HPER
Laura Hamilton, Sociology
Cierra Olivia Thomas-Williams, Gender Studies
Bradley Lane, Gender Studies
Lei Wang, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, School of Education
Amanda E. Tanner, PhD, MPH, Adolescent Medicine, IU School of Medicine
Kristal Cain, Biology, Program in Ecology, Evolution & Behavior


Laurie Legocki, Department of Applied Health Science, School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation
Topic: Young women’s constructions of meaning in the context of vulvovaginal pain

The purpose of the study is to gain insight into how young women construct meaning of vulvovaginal pain based on individual, relational and cultural factors. Theoretical framework will guide the in-depth interviews that will be conducted with at least 20 young African American women between the ages of 18 and 21 who have self identified as having vulvovaginal pain. By having a better understanding of what influences the meaning women give to their own vulvovaginal pain, health professionals can better address major quality of life issues and support the positive sexual development of women who experience this phenomenon earlier in life.

Kathryn R. Macapagal, M.Ed., Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences
Topic: The influence of personality, context, and cognition on sexual decision making

Research demonstrates that decision making in sexual situations is significantly influenced by the presence of salient cues in the environment. Disinhibited individuals prone to engaging in high-risk sexual behavior may be hyperattentive to these cues, increasing attentional load and simultaneously impairing decision-making capacity. To test this in the laboratory, we are employing a go/no-go task to explore the influence of sexual cues on individuals' decision-making processes. We hypothesize that both sexual arousal and sexual cues will increase the amount of commission errors on the task, particularly in individuals who have a history of engaging in sexual risk behaviors and exhibit personality traits characteristic of disinhibited behavior. Preliminary analyses demonstrate that participants commit more errors in sexual conditions versus neutral conditions, suggesting sexual cues negatively interfere with decision-making. These findings can further our understanding of the interaction of personality and cognitive processes contributing to individuals' decisions to engage in high-risk sexual behaviors.

Christopher Fisher, Department of Applied Health Science, School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation
Topic: Growing up LGBT in Indiana

Public Health and Social Work professionals have touted the importance of organized youth groups targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in reducing social, psychological, and physical disparities among this population. Several research and evaluation studies have been conducted with active youth members of groups such as Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) often found in high schools, not-for-profit organizations and collegiate organizations. These studies have supported the need for such groups. However, to date, no known studies have attempted to ascertain the long-term effects of LGBT youth support organizations. Participants included self-identified LGBT individuals who were over the age of 18 and grew up in Indiana. Convenience sampling via advertisements in local LGBT press and word of mouth was employed to recruit participants. A quantitative Internet-based survey was utilized. Constructs measured in the survey included basic demographic variables, identity development, mental, physical, and sexual health, and LGBT youth group participation. Data analysis to assess associations between these constructs and participation or non-participation in an LGBT youth organization will be conducted using several statistical procedures at the completion of data collection in April 2008.

Sonya Satinsky, Department of Applied Health Science, School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation
Topic: Sexual status of women who attend in-home sex toy parties: An exploration of the effects of body weight, sexual subjectivity, and sexual function

The adult retail industry has been described as offering a new site for innovative sexual health promotion and information-sharing. Women especially have described how they find in-home sex toy parties to be comfortable environments not only for the purchasing of sexual health products, but also for asking questions about sexuality, sexual health, and sexual behavior. The purpose of this study is to determine the overall sexual characteristics of the sizeable group of women who attend in-home sex toy parties. These characteristics may be influenced by such factors as body image, actual BMI, sexual subjectivity, sexual function, and/or demographic characteristics, such as age or relationship status. This information can, in due course, help inform additional educational interventions both inside and outside the adult retail arena.

Rose Hartzell, Department of Applied Health Science, School of HPER
Topic: Golden Girls: What About Safer Sex Phase 1

Due to advancements in medicine and technology American’s are living longer than ever before. Women who are single, divorced or widowed represent a large number of aging people who desire to have intimate relationships well into their senior years. Sexual intercourse (vaginal/anal) can put people at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and older adults share the same spectrum of sexually transmitted infections as the general population. Women make up a significant portion of HIV/AIDS cases in the United States, and older women may be at increased risk for STI’s and HIV due to the fact that their vaginal wall thins during menopause making it more likely to tear during intercourse and serve as an open site for transmission. There is a dearth of information regarding sexuality and sexual health practices in older adults. A majority of the literature on older adults is greatly outdated, and there is little data on the sexual health of the new cohort of older women aged 50-60 years who come from the baby boomer generation. Sexual health impacts the overall quality of life for aging individuals. An understanding of the knowledge, perceptions, and behaviors regarding safer sexual practices among postmenopausal women will potentially assist health professionals, researchers, and practitioners in meeting the needs of the population by designing acceptable, age, and culturally appropriate sexual health interventions. The proposed study will be conducted in two phases. Phase I is formative research which is described in this proposal. A qualitative study using face to face semi-structured interviews will be conducted to elicit knowledge, perceptions, and behaviors regarding safer sex practices. In phase two, scales will be developed based on the findings of phase one and blended with existing scales to develop a culturally appropriate large scale survey instrument for postmenopausal women to ascertain knowledge, perceptions, and behaviors regarding safer sex practices. The target population will be women aged 50-60 who self-identify as postmenopausal. Participants will be heterosexual, sexually active (within the past 5 years), English proficient, single (divorced, widowed, never married), ambulatory and self-identify as free of diabetes, cancer, depression, or any cardiovascular problems that may require medication that may influence their sex drive. Five African American, 5 Latina, and 5 White women will be recruited to participate in semi-structured interviews. The women will be recruited from beauty salons in Dallas/Ft Worth, TX area. Beauty parlors were chosen as the recruitment site because of the high frequency in which older women of all socioeconomic statuses attend them. The beauty parlor is often an informal environment in which women discuss the events occurring in each other’s lives including sex.

Laura Hamilton, Department of Sociology
Topic: Gendered Sexuality in Emerging Adulthood: Double Binds and Flawed Options.” Co-authored with Elizabeth Armstrong.

We argue that structural and cultural dimensions of the new emerging adulthood life stage have led to changes in the organization and meaning of premarital sexuality—reducing the appeal of committed relationships and increasing the allure of non-romantic sex. At the same time, gendered sexual expectations persist. Drawing on longitudinal ethnographic and interview data from a residence hall floor of college women and a multi-university survey of sexual practices, we show how this institutional contradiction leaves its footprints on the lives of individual women. Committed relationships and party hookups only meet one set of expectations—those of gender or life stage. As a result women experience a new relational double bind and an intensified sexual double bind. This contradiction also opens up space for cultural innovation, leading women to experiment with a fragile new social form that has potential to resolve both double binds. We conclude by discussing sources of change in the gender system and examining how shifts in pre-marital sexuality are linked to new mechanisms of class reproduction.

Cierra Olivia Thomas-Williams, Department of Gender Studies
Topic: The Cosmopolitan Effect: Constructing Transnational Sexual Citizenship through the Globalization of American Womanhood

Based upon Ms. Thomas-Williams’ content and discourse analysis of four international editions of Cosmo in spring 2007, it is evident that there is an interesting disarticulation between what is actually going on in the U.S. versus its global reputation as “the leader” in all things. Cosmopolitan U.S. is behind the times sexually speaking in that it avoids discussing homosexuality, abortion, and sexually transmitted diseases, while its international counterparts engage openly with these issues. All international issues of Cosmo are produced by the same American corporation, Hearst Magazines, International, however. Thus an investigation into these numerous disarticulations will yield interesting results worthy of further examination.

Bradley Lane, Department of Gender Studies
Topic: Arousing Suspicions: Contemporary Anti-Pornography Feminism and the Politics of Style

With the funds awarded from my Friends of the Kinsey grant last year, I was able to undergo training in an anti-pornography feminist conference ("Pornography and Popular Culture") at Wheelock College in Boston in the spring of 2007. My subsequent work analyses and critiques the contemporary anti-pornography feminist movement, its pedagogy, and its proselytizing ethic. In the popular imagination, as well as in the minds of many undergraduates, feminism is believed to be un-categorically opposed to pornography. Such is the case despite recent academic forays into a more complex understanding of sexuality, pornography, and representation in the works of scholars such as Laura Kipnis, Carole Vance, and Linda Williams. The association of feminism with a clear-cut opposition to pornography partly results from the visibility, and frequent oversimplification, of Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin as “representative” feminists, but it is also due in no small part to the organizational skills, networking, and pedagogic practices of anti-pornography feminists such as Gail Danes, Robert Jensen, and Jane Caputi. In my research, I have found that, in spite of their academic and theoretical credentials, writers and scholars who argue for nuanced and careful study of “the textual working of popular pornographies” (Williams 3) simply cannot compete, for sheer rhetorical bravado, with the arguments of anti-pornography feminists, who claim that pornography as the cause of everything from mass rape in Serbia to “racism, militarism, and environmental destruction.” This stance extends to how anti-pornography feminists teach the politics of pornography in the classroom, as well as to the very style of the argumentative structure they employ. Drawing from instructional materials submitted to participants at last year’s “Pornography and Pop Culture” conference at Wheelock college, I am subsequently examining how, in their use of de-contextualized slide show imagery, scripted “training tools,” and convergentist rhetoric, anti-porn feminist pedagogy works to produce a vision of the ubiquity of pornography that leaves its audience metaphorically battered and speechless, much like the victims it insists pornography produces. [2] My analysis is neither “pro” nor “anti” pornography per se so much as it is an examination of how anti-pornography feminist positions are enacted by those who hold them, as well as what they mean not only for our understandings of feminism and pornography but also feminist analysis in a larger sense. It is hoped that by employing rhetorical analysis as a method for analyzing anti-pornography feminism, I may provide feminist teachers and their students with tools for addressing and responding to radical critiques of pornographic material.

Lei Wang, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, School of Education
Topic: The Influence of Principals and Homeroom Teachers’ Gendered Attitudes on the Educational Expectations of Female Secondary School Students in Rural Shaanxi Province, China.

This project is conducted collaboratively by me and Heidi Ross, Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and Director of the East Asian Studies Center. Support from the Faculty-Student Collaborative Research Grant Program allowed us to complete phase one data analysis for a girl’s educational aspirations study conducted in June 2006 with 1,000 girls, 22 principals, and 23 homeroom teachers in rural Shaanxi Province, China. The key research question we explored through phase one data analysis is how and to what degree teachers and principals’ gendered attitudes influence the educational aspirations of rural female students. The preliminary analysis showed that principals, mostly male, generally hold negative attitudes toward female students' educational ability and homeroom teachers, mostly female, have ambiguous attitudes. Girls are sensitive to teachers' gendered attitudes and they are able to resist some but accept the other.

Amanda E. Tanner, PhD, MPH, Section of Adolescent Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine
Topic: Situational and contextual factors influencing microbicide use: Implications for sexual health and satisfaction among high risk urban women

Vaginal microbicides (substances that may substantially reduce transmission of STI and pregnancy when applied in the vagina) are proposed as a woman-initiated, potentially surreptitious method of STI prevention. High STI rates make young women an important focus for microbicide research. However, little is known about how such products are used in the context of young women’s lives and within their romantic and sexual relationships. Forty five individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 40 young women (18-23 years old; 85% African American; 47.5% with children) following a 30-day period during which they were asked to use a microbicide surrogate (a commercially available vaginal moisturizer [VM]) with each act of coitus. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and managed using Atlas ti 5.0. Content analysis identified salient themes related to VM use. Results of the study indicate that women’s use of the VM was highly influenced by individual, relationship, and ecological factors. The individual factors included young women’s evaluations of the VM and experiences with existing contraceptive methods. Partner specific issues included partners’ assessment of the VM and relationship dynamics. VM use for women in more established relationships with better communication tended to be higher, with covert VM use more common in casual relationships. Ecological factors included social support and social norms for sexual decision making. The data indicate that vaginal microbicides may not fulfill the need for woman controlled STI prevention since use of a microbicide surrogate was heavily influenced by significant others. These others included male partners, relationship characteristics, and social networks. Relationship dynamics affected women’s ability to introduce the VM into sexual situations, negotiate use, and determined comfort level with covert use potential. Most microbicide acceptability research has been conducted without consideration of the social interaction between partners, ignoring the complex gender and power structures often exhibited in young women’s relationships. Detailed understanding of these issues is essential for successful microbicide-related social marketing, education, acceptability, and use.

Kristal Cain, Department of Biology, Program in Ecology, Evolution & Behavior
Topic: Individual variation in female mating choices: relating yolk hormones to extra-pair behavior in a female songbird

Variation in female sexual behavior is a driving force in the evolution of mating systems, and modern paternity tests in birds have demonstrated that individual females differ consistently in their propensity toward extra-pair behavior vs. 'fidelity'. Despite the important role played by females in sexual selection, surprisingly little is known of the proximate causes of variation in female extra-pair behavior. Because steroid hormones, like testosterone (T), mediate reproductive behavior, they are prime candidates as a proximate cause of individual variation in mating propensity.

Objectives/Hypothesis: My research examines the links among hormonal exposure in ontogeny, gonadal function, and extra-pair behavior with the working hypothesis that females whose phenotype suggests greater exposure to yolk hormones will exhibit higher gonadal function and greater propensity to produce extra-pair young.

2006 Kinsey Institute Student Grants-in-Aid

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