A new Tel Aviv University study provides scientific confirmation that men who hold sexist views of women feel threatened by them and are more likely to have unsatisfying relationships.
The study, led by Dr. Orly Bareket of TAU’s School of Psychological Sciences and published in the journal Sex Roles, was based on an online questionnaire answered by 108 heterosexual Israeli men, a majority (77 percent) of whom were under than 30 years old and single (55 percent). It found that heterosexual men who hold “patriarchy-reinforcing beliefs” are generally more anxious and feel threatened because of a perceived need “to defend their manhood.”
The study focuses on questions relating to female sexuality and the Madonna-Whore complex, a psychoanalytic concept devised by Sigmund Freud. The complex develops in men who divide women into two groups: pure, chaste and nurturing versus manipulative and promiscuous. The participants also answered questions about their sex lives and current relationships.
“The study reveals a positive association between the Madonna-Whore dichotomy endorsement and patriarchy-enhancing ideology,” Dr. Bareket notes. Men who endorse this ideology are more likely to sexually objectify women; express double standards that afford men more sexual freedom and initiative than women; and display benevolent sexism toward women who embrace traditional feminine roles.
According to the study, benevolent sexism “targets women viewed as warm and supportive, who therefore deserve men’s protection and provision, whereas hostile sexism targets women viewed as competitors who seek to gain dominance and control over men.” These beliefs are not only connected to “attitudes that restrict women’s autonomy, but also impair men’s most intimate relationships with women,” the study finds.
“These men may have difficulties feeling attracted to the women they love, or loving the women to whom they are sexually attracted. This leads to chronic dissatisfaction in their romantic relationships,” concludes Dr. Bareket.