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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. This exploratory study used consensual qualitative research methodology Hill et al. Written responses were collected from self-identified gay men in the U. Findings supported reports that perceptions of gender roles among gay men appear based on masculine and feminine stereotypes. Additionally, more adverse versus positive effects on self-image and same-sex romantic relationships were reported including difficulty being emotional and affectionate, pressure to be physically attractive, and pressure to appear masculine in order to be accepted by society and to be seen as desirable by other gay men.
Societal conceptions of masculinity affect the self-image and relationships of many gay men in the United States U. The topic of how and why gay men are affected by this repeatedly appears within the popular gay press e. These real-life examples and the suggestion that masculine ideals ificantly affect many gay men may surprise people who are not intimately Looking for masc gay friends with the gay community—a community that is often perceived as accepting of individual differences.
While many gay men struggle with these issues, scientific research on the effect of masculine ideals on gay men is lacking. Although many scholars have written about the topic e. Thus, this exploratory study sought to appraise what gay men in the U. Masculinity and femininity are descriptors commonly used in everyday language. These terms are often associated with physical and biological differences between men and women e. However, most of the characteristics that are associated with masculinity and femininity are socially constructed. That is, social groups define what is and is not masculine and feminine.
More specifically, scholars have noted that the dominant group typically defines what are appropriate behaviors for a given gender, and that subordination and marginalization of those who violate these norms are used to sustain the constructs Connell, Furthermore, several scholars have illustrated how these two constructs vary over time and cross-culturally e. In the U. In describing this traditional masculinity, David and Brannon suggested that this ideology is dictated by four main rules: men should not be feminine; men must be respected and admired; men should never show fear; and men should seek out risk and adventure.
Even though there may be specific ideals associated with traditional masculinity, Thompson and Pleck proposed that there is no singular type of masculinity. Rather, many masculinity ideologies exist within the U.
One group that may have a distinct masculinity ideology is gay men. Gay men are seen to break from traditional masculinity ideology mainly because of their affectional and sexual orientation. The importance of masculinity for this latter group of gay men is particularly evident in the realm of interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, most advertisers explicitly requested masculine mates and they expressed that stereotypically feminine traits were undesirable in a potential mate.
These studies do not exclude the possibility that a gay man would find femininity and submissiveness attractive in a mate. Moreover, studies focused on personal advertisements are limited due to the potential selection bias of gay men who choose to advertise. Yet, how exactly are gay men defining masculinity and femininity? While scholars have written about gay masculinity e. In one qualitative study consisting of 15 HIV-positive men in New York City, Halkitis found that the majority of the participants associated masculinity among gay men with physical appearance and—to a lesser degree—sexual adventurism.
Physical appearance included having strong physical features e. Sexual adventurism consisted of a high interest in casual sex and multiple sexual encounters. Thus, the limited scientific literature suggests that particular groups of gay men may associate appearing tough, strong, and sexually adventurous with masculine ideals. Although we have limited qualitative data on what ideals gay men in the U. Thus, one aim of this study was to add to our understanding of how gay men define both these roles. For men, traditional masculine ideals seem to play a ificant role in their psychological well-being.
In particular, many men experience negative consequences when these ideals are threatened by feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, and inferiority. Why are men so adversely affected by traditional masculine ideals? Although a large of empirical studies published in peer-reviewed journals exist on the effect of masculine ideals on men, few of these studies have focused on the experience of gay men. Given that masculinity seems to be important to many gay men, psychologists may encounter gay men in session whose presenting concerns may be tied to masculine ideals in the U.
As these concerns are explored with the client, it may be helpful to understand the various traits that gay men associate with masculinity and femininity among gay men and in what ways they feel impacted by traditional masculine ideals. Furthermore, we offer exploratory themes on how gay men feel they are affected by traditional masculine ideals.
The participants were men who self-identified as gay. The average age of the participants was The average of years since openly identifying as gay was Most of the participants identified as White Non-Latino; All participants identified as U.
A majority of the sample A set of six open-ended questions was used to elicit responses for this study. These six questions were derived for the current study and came after a series of demographic questions. Out of the participants, No ificant difference was found. The survey de was based on published suggestions Kraut et al. As suggested by Gosling, Vazire, Srivastava, and JohnIP addresses were monitored to prevent multiple submissions. Participants were recruited via electronic mailing lists managed by various groups, organizations, university centers, and community agencies related to the gay community.
Electronic mailing list managers were contacted and asked to send an e-mail announcement regarding the study to their lists. The e-mail announcement detailed the study and inclusion criteria: Participants had to self-identify as gay, they had to be at least 18 years of age, they had to be U. The announcement also provided a link that would lead them to the survey housed at PsychData. Once at the site, participants were first presented with an informed consent screen. At the bottom of that screen, participants had to click a link to indicate they consented to participate in the survey.
CQR is a team-based approach for analyzing qualitative data. The use of CQR for this study may seem unusual given the modality of data collection and the sample size. While most of the published studies employing CQR have used either telephone or face-to-face interviews to collect data Hill et al. In regards to sample size, published studies using CQR have typically consisted of 7—19 participants Hill et al.
Robertson et al. Thus, as use of this method has grown, researchers have adapted CQR to address different research needs. The team of judges for this study consisted of one doctoral student in counseling psychology and two undergraduate students of psychology. These three these judges were European American, heterosexual females. The internal auditor for the team was an Asian American, heterosexual, male faculty member in counseling psychology; he reviewed the and coding to ensure that they adequately captured the essence of the data.
The external auditor was a Latino, gay identified postdoctoral research fellow at a different institution; he provided feedback to the primary team and helped to contextualize the findings within the existing peer-reviewed literature. The three judges independently evaluated responses for each participant. While the total possible responses was 3, participants responding to each of the six questionsonly a total of 2, responses were evaluated given that some participants did not answer all six questions.
The raters then convened as a team to Looking for masc gay friends their suggestions for categorizing the data. Using a consensus approach, they created core and labels that emerged directly from the data. Only when all three raters agreed on a category would it be included.
For each category under each question, the raters agreed on an exemplar response to illustrate the category. If all the raters agreed, the statement was then counted within that specific category. Disagreements were discussed until consensus was achieved and each of the 2, statements was placed into the most appropriate category. The raters continually re-evaluated each category and individual response i. Once all the data had been categorized, the judges then counted the of responses ased to each category in order to create a frequency count.
Hill et al. However, given the large amount of data, we chose to as percentages. This method of characterizing the data has also been done by other large scales studies Looking for masc gay friends. Table 1 shows the frequency of cases for the generated from the six questions. For each question in the table, the responses are reported in decreasing frequency. Note: Responses have not been corrected for grammatical errors. Total percentage for each question may exceed due to rounding error.
For both of these questions, participants mostly indicated personality and physical traits that were stereotypically masculine e.
Consequently, many gay men exercise regularly and remain physically active throughout adulthood. The most cited theme was that masculine ideals make many gay men feel compelled to adhere to traditional enactments of masculinity even if it is not who they truly are.
One participant wrote. On the other hand, the participants identified several negative effects. It seems that for some gay men, the social expectations of traditional marriage roles between heterosexual men and heterosexual women affected how labor was divided in gay households and the degree to which gay relationships were egalitarian. Furthermore, because men generally place a large emphasis on physical attractiveness, some gay men felt a constant pressure to maintain their looks in order to remain attractive to their partners.
This exploratory study illustrates what some gay men may believe are commonly accepted descriptors of masculinity and femininity among gay men and how masculine ideals in the U. Although not all gay men may feel restricted by traditional masculine ideals, many gay men in this study indicated that portraying a masculine image is important to them. Furthermore, the current analysis suggests that there may be a variety of ways in which gay men are affected by traditional masculine ideals. These exploratory findings seem to reflect studies that have looked at how people assess masculinity and femininity in others e.
Similar to past findings, the gay men in the current study associated stereotypical interests, attitudes and behaviors as descriptors for masculine and feminine gay men. Thus, gay men who self-describe as masculine Looking for masc gay friends particular situations e. Furthermore, this exploratory study offers some initial data on what gay men associate with femininity in gay men. The more informative part of the analysis came from the responses related to the effects of traditional masculine ideals.
Although some positive effects were listed, far more negative effects were given—many which have been ly associated with adverse effects among heterosexual men. In the current analysis, some gay men noted that masculine ideals restrict the expression of emotions and affection between gay men as well.
These preliminary findings fit with theories regarding the effects of traditional gender role socialization. During this socialization process, many gay men may have been particularly targeted. As children, gay men typically exhibited more gender atypical behaviors and interests e. It may be no surprise, then, that many gay men adopted traditional masculine ideals during childhood, which continues to guide their everyday lives as adults Harry, At the same time that gay men may be confronting internalized traditional masculine ideals, they may also be confronting some of the consequences of gender oppression that women face.
While there is evidence that heterosexual men also experience body image concerns e.
Altogether, traditional masculine ideals may to some degree amplify the adverse effect that some gay men experience when compared to heterosexual men. In other words, gay men may feel pressured to live by the same expectations and restrictions that heterosexual men—whether it be as a defensive reaction or because it genuinely reflects their personality—while simultaneously experiencing some of the adverse effects of misogyny and sexual objectification that heterosexual women feel.
While scientific research continues to reveal how traditional masculinity ideology affects gay men, psychologists should consider how masculine ideals impact their gay male clients. Furthermore, it has been suggested that as a result of traditional masculine gender role socialization, many gay men did not develop the skills necessary to intimately connect with other men e. Consequently, some gay men may use sex as a substitute for intimacy Haldeman, Haldeman also proposed that because many gay men were victimized by heterosexual men for violating traditional masculinity ideology while growing up, some gay men may experience a form of heterophobia—or a fear of interacting with heterosexual men and a degradation of heterosexuality.
Thus, while scientific research tests these and other hypotheses generated by practitioners, psychologists should remain aware of the possible role that masculine ideals and gender role socialization play in the presenting issues and concerns of their gay clients. If masculinity is an important construct for a client, then it may be helpful to explore how this may be affecting his psychological well-being.
For instance, Pleck proposed that one source of masculine gender role strain is rooted in the perception that one is failing to fulfill some internalized notion of masculinity. Yet, even if a gay man is not concerned with traditional notions of masculinity, he may nevertheless feel the oppressive effects of this dominant ideology. For instance, one proposed component of traditional masculinity ideology is that men should be hypersexual and sexually objectify others Mahalik et al.
Gay men and advertising targeted to gay men have been found to sexually objectify other men Siever, Consequently, gay men who present in a clinical setting with disordered eating or dissatisfaction with their body may have internalized this Looking for masc gay friends perspective that is perpetuated by other men and traditional masculine ideals. This study was exploratory in nature and any conclusions taken from this should be done with caution.
Although there are advantages to conducting research over the Internet Gosling et al. While the current sample demographics closely mirror other on-line studies focused on gay men e.Looking for masc gay friends
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