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If “Boys Will Be Boys,” Then Girls Will Be Victims? A Meta-Analytic Review of the Research That Relates Masculine Ideology to Sexual Aggression

Abstract

In feminist sociocultural models of rape, extreme adherence to the masculine gender role is implicated in the perpetuation of sexual assault against women in that it encourages men to be dominant and aggressive, and it teaches that women are inferior to men and are sometimes worthy of victimization. Many researchers have linked components of masculine ideology to self-reports of past sexual aggression or future likelihood to rape. Thirty-nine effect sizes were examined in this meta-analysis across 11 different measures of masculine ideology to determine how strongly each index of masculine ideology was associated with sexual aggression. Although 10 of the 11 effect sizes were statistically significant, the 2 largest effects were for Malamuth's construct of “hostile masculinity” (e.g., Malamuth, Sockloskie, Koss, & Tanaka, 1991) and Mosher's construct of “hypermasculinity” (e.g., Mosher & Sirkin, 1984), both of which measure multiple components of masculine ideology including acceptance of aggression against women and negative, hostile beliefs about women. The next strongest relationships concerned measures of agreement that men are dominant over women and measures of hostility toward women. Scores on general measures of gender-role adherence, such as the Bem Sex Role Inventory (Bem, 1974), were not strong predictors of sexual aggression. Sociocultural models that link patriarchal masculine id eology and situational factors to sexual aggression should prove most predictive in future research.

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Murnen, S.K., Wright, C. & Kaluzny, G. If “Boys Will Be Boys,” Then Girls Will Be Victims? A Meta-Analytic Review of the Research That Relates Masculine Ideology to Sexual Aggression. Sex Roles 46, 359–375 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020488928736

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020488928736

  • masculinity
  • sexual aggression
  • rape