Sexual autonomy implies consistency between one's internal desires and sexual behaviours. Sexual assertiveness has been defined as the strategies used to accomplish such consistency, and to therefore be sexually autonomous. Sexual assertiveness encompasses skills in refusing unwanted sexual situations and bringing about wanted sexual situations. Measures of sexual assertiveness typically assess both refusal sexual assertiveness (RSA) and initiation sexual assertiveness (ISA), yet there is a dearth of research examining these skills in relation to one another. The present study examined the relationship between women's RSA and ISA, exploring predictors of each. A total of 487 heterosexual and 129 lesbian, bisexual, questioning and other (LBQ +) women completed the online survey, including women recruited from an undergraduate psychology program at an Ontario university and from communities across Canada using social media. ISA and RSA were only moderately correlated. General assertiveness in non-sexual situations was only one of several variables predictive of ISA and RSA, indicating that there is something unique to assertiveness in the sexual context. Committed relationship context and erotophilic disposition specifically predicted initiation assertiveness. Less endorsement of the sexual double standard specifically predicted refusal assertiveness. No significant differences emerged in predictors of ISA and RSA when comparing sexual orientation groups. However, LBQ + women unexpectedly reported lower levels of RSA overall. Implications for supporting the development of sexual assertiveness and avenues for future research are discussed.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 226-241
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.