The feminization of men leads to a rise in homophobia

masculinity
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Before the feminist revolution in the late 1960s, men largely built their masculinity on traits that opposed those ascribed to women. Since then, society has been moving increasingly toward gender equality, and men can no longer rely on this anti-feminine norm. What are the effects of this shift on masculinity affirmation? Researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, report that some men assert their manhood by stressing their heterosexuality in order to compensate for this feminisation of men. This move marks a clear rejection of homosexuality, seen as the personification of the "feminine man." The UNIGE results, published in the journal Sex Roles, reflect the difficulties Western societies have in granting homosexuals the same rights as heterosexuals, with some men leaning on homophobia to help them find their place in an increasingly egalitarian society.

Prior to May 1968, the social norms of male identity were founded primarily on the male-female opposition. A woman, for example, had to be sensitive and attentive, and was obliged to prioritise the family at the expense of her career. A man, on the other hand, had to be self-assured, independent and strong—and, above all, he had to be non-feminine. The masculinity constructed on this opposition was a more fragile concept than femininity—a man was meant to prove his manliness to society by regularly acting in a way that showed he was not a woman.

Masculine construction: in need of guidance

Western society has been moving in the direction of greater gender equality since the feminist revolution. As well as focusing on their careers, women can now be self-sufficient and strong. Meanwhile, men are allowed to show their emotions and take care of their families. The anti-feminine norm can no longer serve as a model for constructing male identity, and it is said that there is a "crisis of masculinity." What are the implications on what it means to be a man today?

A team led by Juan M. Falomir, Professor in the Psychology Section in UNIGE's Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (FPSE), has recently investigated the relationship between the decline of the anti-feminine norm and homophobia. "The homosexual stereotype includes the idea of someone who transgresses gender identity by embodying femininity in a man," says the professor. "We wondered whether the feminisation of men had a direct impact on the decrease or rise of homophobia."

Anti-femininity and heterosexuality: an interconnected system

The UNIGE psychologists used a questionnaire to test the effects of the demise of the anti-femininity norm. It included items measuring agreement with the key features of masculinity: avoiding femininity, restricting emotions, self-confidence, aggression, domination, attraction to sexual activity and homophobia. Three groups of heterosexual men then stated whether they agreed or disagreed with 50 or so items related to these norms.

"The first group was a control group, meaning its members had to complete the questionnaire without any prior information. With the second group, we highlighted the masculinity and anti-femininity of men in today through the presentation of various studies before filling in the questionnaire. Conversely, we told the third group that men today had never been so feminine," explains professor Falomir.

In a second study, the researchers only retained the last two groups, with participants answering another questionnaire that measured their attitudes toward homosexuals (their rights, sense of morality, the emotions they feel and their behaviour) and the affirmation of their own heterosexuality. Contrary to all expectations, the results indicated in overall terms that homophobia and the reaffirmation of heterosexuality were much stronger for the last group, where men were presented as being increasingly feminine, than for the other groups.

"It's an interconnected system," explains professor Falomir. "In decreasing the significance of the anti-femininity norm, men compensate by emphasising the importance of the heterosexuality . Homophobia is the alternative way of asserting their masculinity." As the UNIGE psychologists continued their study, they noted that the rise in homophobia is not caused directly by a desire to reassert the male-female opposition (the gender dichotomy). Femininity is no longer considered to be a characteristic that is unique to women, since men are becoming more sensitive and emotional. But this acceptance of the feminisation of men seems to be happening at the expense of homosexuals, because masculinity is now affirmed more by heterosexuality. We should note, however, that this increase in homophobia is found mainly among more "traditional" men. So-called "modern" men, by contrast, react better to the feminisation of men and have a better perception of homosexuals.

The feminisation of society is delaying the acceptance of gay rights

These results reflect the fact that our Western societies, which are establishing gender equality as a fundamental principle, are still reluctant when it comes to the rights of homosexuals. "The more we even up the genders, the more difficult it becomes for 'traditional men' to manage this equality and continue to construct their . As they can't differentiate themselves from women any more, they see as a way of restoring their manhood," concludes professor Falomir.


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More information: Juan Manuel Falomir-Pichastor et al, Perceived Men's Feminization and Attitudes Toward Homosexuality: Heterosexual Men's Reactions to the Decline of the Anti-Femininity Norm of Masculinity, Sex Roles (2019). DOI: 10.1007/s11199-018-0985-6
Journal information: Sex Roles

Citation: The feminization of men leads to a rise in homophobia (2019, January 23) retrieved 22 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-01-feminization-men-homophobia.html
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mqr
Jan 23, 2019
Homosexual men attack (young) straight men, and that is why there is a lot of hatred against them. Almost every attractive man that I know, was a target of homosexual men in his youth.

And very irritating is when you tell the story of a gay man doing something obnoxious to you, and the others reacting as "oh, no big deal, he just was in love". Like me going and grabinb a woman's butt, and when she correctly react with anger, I reply the same " I am just in love with you".

Jan 23, 2019
What kind of crap is this? I was under the impression this was a science aggregator. Not a homophobic dog whistle generator. There IS NO FEMINIZATION OF MEN. There IS a shift away from toxic masculinity, but that has nothing to do with the feminine. Sheesh.

Jan 24, 2019
Gender studies papers: a laugh a minute. Thank you for the entertainment, er, enlightenment. We'll go...um...ponder that.

Jan 24, 2019
What I don't get about homophobia is this:
Why is this even a phobia (fear). How exactly are homosexual men (or women) threatening anyone? If anything heterosexual mean/women should be welcoming of this group of people, because they do not constitute competition in search for a partner.

If ever there was a fear of something that was purely manufactured as a means of "fostering unity within by declaring an enemy without" then it's homophobia.
At least with racism you could point to some (imagined) cultural animosity or somesuch tripe. But with homosexuals? How have they offended anyone?

Homosexual men attack (young) straight men

BS. Total.

Jan 24, 2019
What do you even say to a bunch of conservative Swiss banksters when they go, "Booga booga booga, teh wimminz is comon to steal your penisez?"

I thought there was a rule here against this crap. Why is physorg even giving any countenance to this?

Jan 24, 2019
There are a few points of confusion in the article. Number one, the authors seem to be conflating "Homophobia" with "Asserting ones Heterosexuality". The reaction of those who are told "Men have never been so feminine" is understandable, they feel a need to distinguish themselves from the throngs of "feminine men" which homosexual men are perceived to be a part of.

Secondly, it's stated that "traditional" men are the ones who can't differentiate themselves from women anymore, although the results of the study show the exact opposite; traditional men are the ones who use their heterosexual status to differentiate themselves from women, and indeed from homosexuals.

Thirdly, the study falsely equates the reaction of men who are told society is becoming more feminized with actual the reaction of men from more feminized societies. Telling men society is more feminized and seeing how they react is not the same as testing men from societies that are more feminized.

Jan 24, 2019
@antialias_physorg people are always fearful when taboos are violated.

Jan 24, 2019
SHUN ICKY. We are known by the company that we keep.

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