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“Demonstrating Masculinity” Via Intimate Partner Aggression: The Moderating Effect of Heavy Episodic Drinking

Abstract

The aim of the present study was to examine the mediational effect of masculine gender role stress on the relation between adherence to dimensions of a hegemonic masculinity and male-to-female intimate partner physical aggression. Men’s history of heavy episodic drinking was also examined as a moderator of the proposed mediation effect. A sample of 392 heterosexual men from the southeastern United States who had been in an intimate relationship within the past year completed measures of hegemonic masculine norms (i.e., status, toughness, and antifemininity), masculine gender role stress, alcohol use patterns, and intimate partner physical aggression. Results indicated that the indirect effects of adherence to the antifemininity and toughness norms on physical aggression toward female intimate partners via masculine gender role stress were significant and marginal, respectively. A significant indirect effect of status was not detected. Moreover, subsequent analyses revealed that the indirect effects of antifemininity and toughness were significant only among men with a history of heavy episodic drinking. These findings suggest that heavy episodic drinking exacerbates a gender-relevant stress pathway for intimate partner aggression among men who adhere to specific norms of masculinity. Overall, results suggest that the proximal effect of heavy episodic drinking focuses men’s attention on gender-based schemas associated with antifemininity and toughness, which facilitates partner-directed aggression as a means to demonstrate these aspects of their masculinity. Implications for the intersection between men’s adherence to specific norms of hegemonic masculinity, cognitive appraisal of gender relevant situations, and characteristic patterns of alcohol consumption are discussed.

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This research was supported by grant R01-AA-015445 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism awarded to the corresponding author.

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Correspondence to Dominic J. Parrott.

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Lisco, C.G., Leone, R.M., Gallagher, K.E. et al. “Demonstrating Masculinity” Via Intimate Partner Aggression: The Moderating Effect of Heavy Episodic Drinking. Sex Roles 73, 58–69 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-015-0500-2

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Keywords

  • Hegemonic masculine norms
  • Masculine gender role stress
  • Alcohol
  • Domestic violence