Associate Professor, Faculty Fellow | Sociology and Anthropology
Dr. Curtis is drawn to aspects of the human condition that for too long have been regarded as taboo among academics. Subjects such as love, death, madness, and sexuality, while taken seriously by some, continue to remain on the margins of the academy. For the past 10 years, her research has focused on the relationship between sexuality and economics, by asking how the economy shapes the sexual landscape of a society.
In 2003, Dr. Curtis conducted fieldwork on Nevis, a small island society, which was once an agrarian community, and now has become increasingly influenced by consumer culture. In 2009, she published “Pleasures and Perils: Girls’ Sexuality in a Caribbean Consumer Culture” (Rutgers University Press).
Arthur Frankel and Debra Curtis
Abstract: Does a woman’s reputation suffer when others discover condoms in her possession? Fifty-two male and female predominantly white undergraduates from a small, private, Catholic university in the northeast USA examined the contents of a purse to formulate an impression of its owner. Unflattering inferences were drawn about the character of the target when her purse contained condoms. A follow-up study with 55 comparable participants confirmed that these inferences were indeed uncomplimentary. The results are discussed in terms of the multi-dimensional price women pay when assuming responsibility for their sexual health.
Frankel, Arthur and Debra A. Curtis. “What’s in a Purse? Maybe a Woman’s Reputation.” Sex Roles, vol. 59, no. 9-10, Nov. 2008, pp. 615-622.
McKillop Library EBSCOhost Database: DOI 10.1007/s11199-008-9463-x