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Testing Women’s Trust in Other Women and Same-Sex Attracted Males in Three Cultures

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Abstract

Heterosexual women trust mating-relevant advice received from gay men more than that received from heterosexual women. This trust is predicated on women’s perception that gay men lack ulterior sexual motives and romantically pursue other gay men. However, this trust may not hold in all cultures. For example, in both Samoa and the Istmo Zapotec of Southern Mexico, women take part in mate competition against feminine same-sex attracted males—referred to as fa’afafine and muxe, respectively—who regularly engage in sexual activity with masculine men. The present studies sought to replicate and extend research on women’s trust in males who are same-sex attracted. Experiments were conducted in Canada, Samoa, and the Istmo Zapotec, with women randomly assigned to consider the likelihood of various mate-poaching behaviors performed by either a rival woman or a same-sex attracted male. In Canada, women were more trusting of cisgender gay men than other women. Similarly, Samoan women were more trusting of fa’afafine than other women. In the Istmo Zapotec, women were equally distrustful of women and feminine muxe gunaa, whereas more masculine muxe nguiiu were rated as more trustworthy than women and muxe gunaa. These results illustrate that women’s trust in same-sex attracted males varies both between and within cultural contexts, perhaps impacted by the relative femininity of the male in question.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank the Government of Samoa, the Samoan Fa’afafine Association, as well as Trisha Tuiloma and Alatina Ioelu, without whom research in Samoa would not be possible. We also thank the Office of the Municipal President in Juchitán, Mexico, as well as Felina Santiago and Julio C. Jiménez Rodríguez for their assistance in Juchitán.

Funding

SWS was funded by a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships (Doctoral) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada (Grant number 767–2016-2485), as well as a 2016 Student Research Development Award from the International Academy of Sex Research. FRGJ was supported by a National Geographic Society Early Career Grant (Grant number HJ-017ER-17), a Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research (G2017031591840826) as well as a 2017 Student Research Development Award from the International Academy of Sex Research. PLV was supported by grants awarded by the University of Lethbridge Research Development Fund (Grant number 13261), and an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada (Grant number 435–2017-0866).

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Correspondence to Scott W. Semenyna.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics Approval

The questionnaire and methodology for this study was approved by the Human Subject Research Committee of the University of Lethbridge (#2016–046).

Human or Animal Rights

All study measures and procedures were approved by the Human Subject Research Committee at the authors’ institution. Samoan data were collected under a research visa obtained from the Samoan Immigration Office, with the support of the Samoan Fa’afafine Association. Canadian foreign nationals, and US Citizens, are permitted to conduct research in Mexico for a period of 180 days if they have a valid passport (Consulado de Carrera de México en Toronto, 2019). In addition, however, we obtained a letter endorsing our research from the Office of the Municipal President in Juchitán, Mexico.

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Semenyna, S.W., Gómez Jiménez, F.R. & Vasey, P.L. Testing Women’s Trust in Other Women and Same-Sex Attracted Males in Three Cultures. Arch Sex Behav 50, 3479–3488 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-021-02139-w

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-021-02139-w

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