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Gender and Sexual Agency considers how heterosexual Latino American, Asian American and white youth negotiate sexual encounters. In particular, the book examines sexual agency: exploring the question of why some young people assertively pursue what they want in a sexual encounter, while others go along with sexual activity they do not want. By comparing both young men and young women, Albanesi offers a unique perspective on how an individual's emotional experience of gender informs his or her willingness to exercise sexual agency. Using interviews to support her theoretical argument, Albanesi describes 11 different types of sexual agency, ranging from having strong convictions about their sexual decisions to abdicating responsibility to their partner. As the expressers of sexual agency, the voices of these youth from primarily working-class backgrounds come through to take us into their sexual decisions as they understand and experience them within the context of their lives. Ultimately, regardless of the decision, the book shows that youth are well aware of the decisions that they are making, even if they can't always express those reasons clearly.
Heather Powers Albanesi is assistant professor of sociology at University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.