Perceived Men’s Feminization and Attitudes Toward Homosexuality: Heterosexual Men’s Reactions to the Decline of the Anti-Femininity Norm of Masculinity
One of the central dimensions of traditional masculinity is men’s renunciation of the feminine (i.e., the anti-femininity norm), and men’s endorsement of this norm constitutes one of the strongest predictors of negative attitudes toward homosexuality. However, egalitarian societies are undergoing a significant change: Gendered roles, stereotypes, and norms are evolving. Accordingly, many believe that men are becoming more feminine than before, and this change might have consequential effects. Across two studies conducted in Western countries, we investigated heterosexual men’s reaction to the perceived decline of the anti-femininity norm of masculinity on their attitudes toward homosexuality. The results consistently showed that perceived men’s feminization increased negative attitudes toward homosexuality (Study 1, n = 220), specifically among those participants who most strongly endorsed the anti-femininity norm (Study 2, n = 156). Furthermore, this pattern was driven by participants’ discomfort with homosexuality rather than by their motivation to reinstate the challenged gender dichotomy. We discuss the relevance of these findings for both the gender and sexual prejudice literatures.
KeywordsMasculinity Gender roles Gender norms Anti-gay prejudice Heterosexuality Ingroup distinctiveness
The present research was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant number: 100019-176080). We are grateful to Marion Chipeaux, Max Felder, and our practical work students for their help in collecting data.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
We confirm that this manuscript has been approved by all co-authors, is original, has not been previously published and is not under concurrent consideration for publication elsewhere else. We are in compliance with the guidelines of the 6th edition Publication Manual of the APA, including the provisions under the heading ‘Alerting the Editor’. There is no published work or unpublished manuscript using the same data (in whole or in part). There is no conflict of interest in the undertaking of this research. We also confirm that these studies have been conducted in a manner consistent with ethical standards for the treatment of human subjects, and that the ethical committee of the first author's home university has approved this research.
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