Study Looks at Cash, Cars, and Condom Use Among Low-Income Blacks;You Know Where This is Going

March 8, 2012  |  

The title of this study alone—yes, it really is “Cash, Cars, and Condoms: Economic Factors in Disadvantaged Adolescent Women’s Condom Use“— tells you what type of stereotypical thoughts went into its development. The study’s aim was to “evaluate whether adolescent women who received economic benefits from their boyfriends were more likely never to use condoms, and like Elizabeth Schroeder questions in her harsh analysis of this study, I too have to wonder: Why is this question even being asked?

It should be pointed out that “disadvantaged adolescent” is codeword for black because those were the only women who were studied. And after collecting data on African American girls ages 15 to 21 living in a low-income area, the researchers concluded that “adolescent women whose boyfriend is their primary source of spending money may not explicitly exchange risky sex for money, but their relationships may be implicitly transactional.” I.e., as Schroeder writes, “If these poor, African-American adolescents didn’t rely on their boyfriends for money, maybe they’d make better decisions about their sexual health.”

Might I direct the authors to Durex’s recent Sexual Wellbeing Global Survey that found 6/10 Americans didn’t use condoms when they lost their virginity? What’s their excuse? I bet it will be chopped up to lack of education rather than prostitution, as this study implies. And what about the sugar daddy recession Salon recently reported on and the age-old trend of well-off white men sponsoring young women for sex? Is anyone looking at their sexual health?

Unfortunately, another study will piggy back off of this data in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Sex Research. In that analysis researchers found African American women were least likely to use condoms to begin with and that declining condom use during women’s freshman year in college was more prevalent among women from low-income families, which we learned today means black.

I’m not saying the African American community doesn’t have work to do when it comes to contraception and sexual health but I’m a firm believer in people being able to find what they are looking for, and the entire way this study is framed is wrong. These researchers weren’t looking to find underlying reasons that African American women forgo condoms, it simply wanted to reinforce the stereotype that black girls are pimped out prostitutes who will trade their sexual health in for a ride in an Impala and a hamburger.

What do you think about these studies implying black women are the most careless with their sexual health?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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