Cultural Factors Affect Women’s Sexuality

A woman applies crimson lipstick.Cultural issues can heavily affect women’s sexuality, according to a study published in Sexuality & Culture. They are particularly salient for women who are lesbian and bisexual.

Prior Research

Previous research focused on the way individual factors affect sexuality. For instance, a 2016 study showed women who endorse benevolent sexism are less likely to assert their sexual needs. They are also more likely to tolerate sexual selfishness from their partners.

A 2017 study found relationship issues often prompt women to feign orgasms. They may be prioritizing their partner’s ego or avoiding an argument. Sometimes women fake orgasms to end sex sooner.

Despite the breadth of research on female sexuality, the Sexuality & Culture study is one of the first to compare desire in heterosexual and non-heterosexual women.

Cultural Factors in Women’s Sexuality

This study involved interviews with 31 women ages 20-69. The researchers interviewed women identifying as bisexual, heterosexual, and lesbian. Questions focused on the relationships between women’s sexual desire, their identity, and their experiences.

Cultural themes played a key role in women’s sexual experiences. The most prominent themes included:

  1. Gender roles: The gender binary, relationship dynamics, and body image concerns
  2. Religion: Spiritual beliefs regarding sex and gender
  3. Cultural shifts: Changes in sexual taboos and expectations
  4. Minority stress: Heteronormativity, stigma, and coming out

These cultural themes affected a diverse group of women. However, their role was most prominent among women who identified as non-heterosexual. The researchers suggest this disparity occurs because non-heterosexual women must face challenges related to both sexism and heteronormativity. Compounded stigmas seem to increase their sensitivity to cultural expectations.

To empower women’s sexual expression, advocates should be mindful of how systems of privilege affect sexual desire. Individuals experiencing distress or difficulty relating to these issues may find it beneficial to discuss them with a counselor or therapist.


  1. LGBQ* women’s sexual desire particularly impacted by social and cultural pressures. (2017, December 06). University of Kentucky News. Retrieved from
  2. Rosenkrantz, D. E., & Mark, K. P. (2017). The sociocultural context of sexually diverse women’s sexual desire. Sexuality & Culture. doi:10.1007/s12119-017-9462-6

© Copyright 2017 All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Joanne

    December 13th, 2017 at 11:56 AM

    True. Nothing puts a damper on your sex drive like feeling ugly.

  • Sara G

    December 13th, 2017 at 12:18 PM

    Interesting, but where do we draw the line between a woman who is sexually repressed and one who likes being in a more traditional female gender role?

  • Larry T

    December 13th, 2017 at 2:38 PM

    It seems to me that those outside of the expectations of mainstream culture (or who defy cultural expectations) are naturally more likely to be aware of them. I do find it strange that those acting in defiance of cultural norms/expectations would be more heavily influenced by them.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.


* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.