Sex Roles

, Volume 31, Issue 9–10, pp 517–531 | Cite as

The male role and avoiding femininity

  • Donald R. McCreary


When confronted with males and females deviating from society's sex-based gender role prescriptions, people tend to respond more negatively to the males' transgressions. In order to develop an understanding of the reasoning behind this phenomenon, two theories were tested. The social status model predicts that males are punished because feminine behavior is lower in status than masculine behavior. The sexual orientation hypothesis predicts that, for males, there is a stronger perceived link between gender roles and sexuality and that a male acting in a feminine way is more likely to be considered a homosexual than a female acting in a masculine way. A group of mostly Caucasian participants were asked to rate a male or female target, performing in either a male- or female-valued manner, on variables assessing social status and perceived homosexuality. The results suggested that the basic assumption of the social status model (i.e., higher male role status) could not be upheld; hence this hypothesis could not adequately be tested. However, strong support emerged for the sexual orientation hypothesis. The functions of homophobic attitudes and the idea that these two models may not be mutually exclusive, especially from within a developmental framework, are discussed.


Social Psychology Social Status Sexual Orientation Gender Role Strong Support 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald R. McCreary
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada

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