OVERALL INTERPRETATION OF BODY IMAGE, SELF-ESTEEM AND (UN)SAFE SEX

 
From my analysis of the respondents interview data I have been able to identify certain tendencies and behaviours that relate to the categories of self-esteem, body image and unsafe sex:

 

1. Most respondents body image 'ideal' was the smooth muscular mesomorphic body image;

2. Levels of respondents self-esteem (both overall and local) was affected by the how they perceived their appearance and body image; some respondents reported depression because of the perception of their body image; some respondents reported suicidal tendencies because of the perception of their own body image;

3. Levels of respondents self-esteem (both overall and local) did impact on what respondents were prepared to do to have sex with a body image ideal;

4. Respondents with high self-esteem were equally as likely to have unsafe sex with a body image ideal as respondents with low self-esteem;

5. Some respondents never considered having unsafe sex because of their levels of self-esteem and desire for a body image ideal; other respondents did consider having unsafe sex because of levels of self-esteem and desire for a body image ideal but were stopped by fear of contracting the HIV virus; still other respondents did have unsafe sex because of levels of self-esteem and desire for a body image ideal; some respondents stated that they had had repeat episodes of unsafe sex with different men who possessed their body image ideal;

6. In every respondent who had unsafe sex because of his desire for a body image ideal, the visuality of this desire never worked in isolation from other conditions. For some respondents desire for their partner's 'ideal' body image coupled with personal levels of self-esteem were the primary factors in their decision to have unsafe sex but these factors were still influenced by, and worked in combination with, other conditions; for other respondents different macro and micro conditions were equally as important as the respondents desire for their partner's body image and levels of self-esteem. These conditions included the respondents historicity, desire for personality of their partner, desire for intimacy and connection with their partner, trust in their partner, environment, context, dick size, passion, drug consumption, etc., ... and worked together with the respondents desire for body image of their partner and personal levels of self-esteem to influence the respondents (sub)conscious decision to have unsafe sex. From the evidence of the data I found that an emotional and sometimes impulsive desire for intimacy and connection with their partner (to be as physically and emotionally as close as possible to their partner), working in combination with a desire for body image of the partner and personal levels of self-esteem of the respondents, was one of the main contributing factors that influenced the (sub)conscious decision to have unsafe sex with them.
Through the attainment of intimacy and connection with body image ideals in casual encounters by having unsafe sex, the respondents revealed themselves to their partners. Contrary to what Hatfield and Sprecher have said, that people reveal far more of themselves in intimate relationships than in casual encounters, I believe the evidence of the data shows that there are other codes of communication present in casual sexual encounters that characterise these encounters as no less intimate and no less revealing than the revelations in a supposedly more intimate longer term relationship;

7. Some respondents considered having unsafe sex with a person who fitted their body image ideal under certain circumstances and conditions and not under others, with certain men and not others, depending on their relationship and feeling towards that person, the context of the situation, and whether that man fitted certain needs and wants of the respondents (for example, whether he fitted an overall personality package) and it felt right to have unsafe sex with him;

8. Some respondents 'lost control' of the sexual encounter with a body image ideal and unsafe sex took place; other respondents did not 'loose control' of the sexual encounter with a body image ideal and unsafe sex took place;

9. Some respondents who had unsafe sex with a body image ideal made their own assessment of 'risk' for the actions they undertook in that encounter. What was seen as an 'acceptable risk' varied in different respondents and within one respondent varied from context to context depending on the specific circumstances of each sexual encounter. This assessment is predicated on the transgression of the social taboo of unsafe sex and their understanding of the consequences of that transgression. What does it mean to themto take the chance of contracting the HIV virus. How do they balance up their desires with the possibility of infection? Other respondents made no assessment of risk of having unsafe sex with a body image ideal, they just impulsively went for it with an almost nihilistic lack of care and concern for their own safety or the consequences of their actions, explaining these actions as happening through 'possession by desire', 'in the heat of the moment', or 'it just happened';

10. Some respondents stated it was a subconscious decision to have unsafe sex with body a image ideal; other respondents stated it was a conscious decision to have unsafe sex with a body image ideal; I believe that the respondents decision to have unsafe sex was never just a subconscious decision, but a (sub)conscious decision, one based on the prior conscious knowledge of the desires of the respondents which influences the subconscious decision to have unsafe sex;

11. Some respondents stated they had lower self-esteem after unsafe sex with a body image ideal; other respondents stated they had higher self-esteem after unsafe sex with a body image ideal;

12. Some respondents reported feelings of guilt after unsafe sex with a body image ideal; other respondents reported that they did not feel guilty after unsafe sex with a body image ideal;

13. Some respondents went and got tested for the HIV virus after unsafe sex with a body image ideal; other respondents did not go and get tested for the HIV virus after unsafe sex with a body image ideal;

14. Two respondents stated that they contracted the HIV virus after unsafe sex with a body image ideal. Knowledge of HIV infection and the really low self-esteem that developed from this knowledge were probably contributing factors in the development of a severe drug addiction in one of these respondents; other respondents stated that to their knowledge they had not contracted the HIV virus after unsafe sex with a body image ideal; other respondents did not know whether they had or had not contracted the HIV virus after unsafe sex with a body image ideal because they had not been tested for the HIV virus;

15. Some respondents expressed the opinion that if the same circumstances occurred again (ie., that there was an opportunity to fuck with a body image ideal) that they would probably follow the same course of action as previously and have unsafe sex with that body image ideal, even though they were fully aware of the possible risks in such a course of action.