Presentation Title

Sexual shame and masculinity in men

Abstract

This study explores the interactions between dominant and submissive sexual fantasies and masculine role norm adherence in predicting the experience of sexual shame. Gender roles can often influence the sexual roles taken during sexual activity (Gross 1978, Masters et al 2012). According to the theory of hegemonic masculinity (Schmidt and Messerschmidt 2005), one of the pillars of manhood is dominant sexual roles. Indeed, prior studies have found that men with dominant sexual fantasies are more likely to identify with masculine role norms (Herron, Herron, & Schultz, 1983). However, the gender role experience of men with submissive sexual fantasies remains less clear. Prior examinations of male “submissives” have found a higher rate of sexual distress in this group compared to men with dominant roles (Botta et al., 2019), but the reasons behind this difference are unclear. Drawing on the theory of hegemonic masculinity, we hypothesized that if male participants self-reported high adherence to male gender roles, and also had submissive sexual fantasies, they would score high on sexual shame. Thus, adherence to masculinity would moderate the relationship between submissive sexual fantasies and sexual shame. We also examined the inverse: whether adherence to masculinity moderated the relationship between dominant sexual fantasies and sexual shame. This study was conducted through an online questionnaire using the University of Vermont undergraduate population as our sample. A total of n = 68 male participants responded. Preliminary results supported our hypothesis that masculinity moderates the relationship between submissive sexual fantasies and shame. This suggests that adherence to masculinity might explain why some men might experience distress at gender-role-discrepant sexual roles while others do not, and has applicability across sexual orientations. Future studies should continue to probe masculinity as a concept in relation to sex roles and sexual shame, as well as the implications of gender roles on sexual shame in women and other gender identities. Our data collection is ongoing so sample size will be larger at the time of presentation.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Alessandra Rellini

Secondary Mentor Name

Wilson Captein

Graduate Student Mentors

Wilson Captein

Faculty/Staff Collaborators

Wilson Captein (Graduate Student Mentor), Alessandra Rellini (Faculty Mentor)

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Second Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Psychological Science

Second Program/Major

Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies

Primary Research Category

Arts & Humanities

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Sexual shame and masculinity in men

This study explores the interactions between dominant and submissive sexual fantasies and masculine role norm adherence in predicting the experience of sexual shame. Gender roles can often influence the sexual roles taken during sexual activity (Gross 1978, Masters et al 2012). According to the theory of hegemonic masculinity (Schmidt and Messerschmidt 2005), one of the pillars of manhood is dominant sexual roles. Indeed, prior studies have found that men with dominant sexual fantasies are more likely to identify with masculine role norms (Herron, Herron, & Schultz, 1983). However, the gender role experience of men with submissive sexual fantasies remains less clear. Prior examinations of male “submissives” have found a higher rate of sexual distress in this group compared to men with dominant roles (Botta et al., 2019), but the reasons behind this difference are unclear. Drawing on the theory of hegemonic masculinity, we hypothesized that if male participants self-reported high adherence to male gender roles, and also had submissive sexual fantasies, they would score high on sexual shame. Thus, adherence to masculinity would moderate the relationship between submissive sexual fantasies and sexual shame. We also examined the inverse: whether adherence to masculinity moderated the relationship between dominant sexual fantasies and sexual shame. This study was conducted through an online questionnaire using the University of Vermont undergraduate population as our sample. A total of n = 68 male participants responded. Preliminary results supported our hypothesis that masculinity moderates the relationship between submissive sexual fantasies and shame. This suggests that adherence to masculinity might explain why some men might experience distress at gender-role-discrepant sexual roles while others do not, and has applicability across sexual orientations. Future studies should continue to probe masculinity as a concept in relation to sex roles and sexual shame, as well as the implications of gender roles on sexual shame in women and other gender identities. Our data collection is ongoing so sample size will be larger at the time of presentation.