In Search of Pleasure: An Exploration of Teenage Recreational Sex
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This thesis utilizes a qualitative method to investigate recreational sex among teenagers as recounted by current college-aged students. As defined for the purposes of this thesis, recreational sex is any consensual sexual activity undertaken for the purpose of pleasure and can encompass a variety of sexual activities. Questions were focused on attitudes and feelings about experiences and were formulated based on reminiscence methods. Studies that discuss teen sexuality in terms of pleasure are important for acknowledging sexual agency and self-efficacy among teens and for addressing the inherent risk involved in sexual activity. The first part of this thesis focuses on recreational sex in a more traditional recreational context. In other words, how do teens discuss and view recreation and recreational sex? Findings suggest that it is often hard to define sexual activity in terms usually associated with other recreational activities but that there are parallels upon further discussion. In addition, partners, past experience, and use of contraception play a role in shaping current experiences. The second part of this thesis examines the gendered contexts of teenage sexual pleasure. Findings show that the pursuance of pleasure is problematic for females in the same way that other sexual activities are. Participants suggest that sexual pleasure is assumed for males but criticized for females and that females often must negotiate the social landscape carefully to project a particular desirable image. In addition, many female participants described being the victims of sexual assault as part of their sexual experiences. Taken together, these pieces provide a contextual picture of teenage recreational sex. Rather than investigate more traditional aspects of teen sexual behavior (i.e. contraception, alcohol and drug use), this thesis approaches sexual activity in terms of pleasure. This gives credence to the idea that teens not only experience sexual pleasure but also that they actively seek it.
Reichstein, Lauren (2011). In Search of Pleasure: An Exploration of Teenage Recreational Sex. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from