Men who hold sexist views of women and see them as inequal feel threatened by them and are more likely to have unsatisfying relationships. This may seem obvious to anyone not living under a rock, but now there is scientific backing.
In a recent study, Israeli researchers at Tel Aviv University found that heterosexual men who hold “patriarchy-reinforcing beliefs” are generally more anxious and feel threatened because of a perceived need “to defend their “manhood.'”
The study, called “The Madonna-Whore Dichotomy: Men Who Perceive Women’s Nurturance and Sexuality as Mutually Exclusive Endorse Patriarchy and Show Lower Relationship Satisfaction” and published in the recent issue of the magazine Sex Roles, was based on an online questionnaire answered by 108 heterosexual Israeli men, a majority (77 percent) of whom were under than 30 years old and single (55 percent).
The survey focused on questions relating to female sexuality and the Madonna-Whore complex, a psychoanalytic concept first identified by Sigmund Freud which is said to develop in men who categorize women in two groups: pure, chaste, nurturing and “good,” or “Madonnas” and manipulative, promiscuous and hence bad, or “whores.” The participants also answered questions about their sex lives and their current relationship statuses.
The study, according to primary author and social psychologist Orly Bareket, “revealed a positive association between the Madonna-Whore Dichotomy endorsement and patriarchy-enhancing ideology as assessed by Social Dominance Orientation (preference for hierarchical social structures), Gender-Specific System Justification (desire to maintain the existing gender system), and sexist attitudes (Benevolent and Hostile Sexism, Sexual Objectification of Women, and Sexual Double Standards).”
Participants who endorsed this ideology were also “more likely to sexually objectify women, express double standards that allow men more sexual freedom and initiative than women, and display benevolent sexism towards women who embrace traditional feminine roles,” according to a press release in Science Daily.
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Benevolent sexism, according to the study, “targets women viewed as warm and supportive, who therefore deserve men’s protection and provision, whereas hostile sexism targets women viewed as competitors who seek to gain dominance and control over men.”
These beliefs “not only link[s] to attitudes that restrict women’s autonomy, but also impairs men’s most intimate relationships with women,” the study says.
“These men may have difficulties feeling attracted to the women they love, or loving the women to whom they are sexually attracted, leading to chronic dissatisfaction in their romantic relationships,” said Bareket.
The study referenced research into feminism and romance published in 2007 showing that “contrary to the perception that feminism inhibits romance, men’s feminism predicts more stable and sexually satisfying heterosexual romantic relationships,” and that “greater gender equality predicts higher sexual satisfaction across cultures, perhaps because egalitarian societies place greater importance on achieving sexual pleasure and enhancing closeness through sex,” according to a 2006 publication on sexual attitudes and behaviors.