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Graduation Semester and Year




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Degree Name

Master of Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Craig Nagoshi


Sexuality has been a widely studied topic which has produced a diverse body of literature covering many different perspectives. However, despite the wealth of knowledge on the topic of sexuality, society maintains a strong taboo on the subject, especially concerning the sexuality of women. Sexual expression is often discouraged in women and used to judge their worth. Coming from a feminist perspective, Objectification Theory (Frederickson & Roberts, 1997) posits that the sexual objectification of women’s bodies, forcing women to value themselves only in terms of how sexually attractive they are to others, has resulted in lower self-esteem and higher instances of internalizing disorders such as depression, anxiety and disordered eating in women. Because of these disorders are also more prevalent in women who have survived adversity and trauma, objectification theory may have implications for resilience as well, such that when women are not allowed to be an agent in their own sexuality, they become less resilient. Keeping objectification theory in mind, this study aimed to explore the link between sexual agency, especially in terms of sexual awareness, with resilience in the context of feminist theory. The author hypothesized that resilience would correlate positively with sexual awareness, and that both sexual awareness and resilience would moderate the effects of childhood adversity on negative psychological outcomes (defined as symptoms of psychopathology) such that sexual awareness could be considered as a protective factor in the study of resilience. 413 undergraduate students were given questionnaires measuring adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), sexual awareness, resilience and psychopathology. Though moderation effects were not found, ACEs correlated positively with sexual awareness, positive sexual awareness correlated positively with resilience, and resilience was correlated negatively with psychopathology. Negative sexual awareness was found to moderate the effects of ACEs on symptoms of disordered eating. Implications for feminist practice and future research are discussed.


Feminist practice, Sexuality, Resilience, Objectification, Mental health


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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