NO DATING UNTIL MARRIAGE: HOW YOUNG NEVER MARRIED NIGERIAN WOMEN RESIDING IN THE UNITED STATES NAVIGATE SEXUALITY

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2023-05-16

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Abstract

Research documents how multicultural individuals face tension between various cultures across different areas of their lives. This study draws on a cognitive dissonance and intersectionality framework to understand the experiences of Nigerian Christian women at the intersection of their ethnic, religious and gender identity. Specifically, this study informs how young, never married, Nigerian Christian women in the United States negotiate sexuality with the influence of secular American culture and traditional conservative Nigerian Christian views. This study is guided by components of grounded theory and themes were drawn from the interview data while also being guided by previous literature. The data was collected through 24 semi-structured in-depth interviews, and I used an inductive approach where conclusions were generated from the data. Overall results show how participants understand and resolve the conflict between different types of sexual rhetoric and how their perceptions of sexual double standards relate to their physical and mental wellbeing. There are three central findings. First, interview data document specific characteristics of Nigerian Christian ideologies and values, highlighting the need to understand culturally specific socialized ideals in order to have a deeper insight of their lived experiences. Second, respondents described how they had to navigate sexual double standards in the Nigerian Christian community as African migrants and how this process was perceived to be related to their well-being. Finally, participants noted how they engaged in religious boundary work that enabled them to reconcile their identities as Nigerian Christians and sexual beings. These findings help to inform the Nigerian community, contribute to migrant literature, can aid organizations aimed at migrant women’s sexual and reproductive health, and complement the findings of quantitative public health research on Nigerians.

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Keywords

Sexuality, Gender, Religion, Culture, Sexual Double Standards, Intersectionality, Cognitive Dissonance, Well-being

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