Men as success objects and women as sex objects A study

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Women conversely may tend to emphasize psychological and perso. nality characteristics Curry Hock 1981 Deaux Hanna 1984 and to. seek longevity and commitment in a relationship to a greater extent Basow. 1986 p 213, Women may also seek financial security more so than men Harrison. Saeed 1977 Regarding this last point Farrell 1986 p 25 suggests that. the tendency to treat men as success objects is reflected in the media partic. ularly in advertisements in women s magazines On the other hand men them. selves may reinforce this stereotype in that a number of men still apparently. prefer the traditional marriage with working husband and unemployed wife. Basow 1986 p 210, Men have traditionally been more dominant in intellectual matters and. this may be reinforced in the courting process Braito 1981 found in his. study that female coeds feigned intellectual inferiority with their dates on. a number of occasions In the same vein Hite in her 1981 survey found. that men were less likely to seek intellectual prowess in their mate p 108. The mate selection process has been characterized in at least two ways. Harrison and Saeed 1977 found evidence for a matching process where. individuals seeking particular characteristics in a partner were more likely. to offer those characteristics in themselves This is consistent with the obser. vation that like attracts like and that husbands and wives tend to resemble. one another in various ways Thiessen Gregg 1980 Additionally an ex. change process may be in operation wherein a trade off is made with wom. en offering domestic work and sex for financial support Basow 1986 p. With respect to sex stereotypes and mate selection the trend has been. for both sexes to believe that the other sex expects them to live up to the. gender stereotype Basow 1986 p 209, Theoretical explanations of sex stereotypes in mate selection range from. the sociobiological Symons 1987 to radical political views Smith 1973 Of in. terest in recent years has been demographic influences that is the lesser avail. ability of men because of population shifts and marital patterns Shaevitz. 1987 p 40 Age may differentially affect women particularly when chil. dren are desired this combined with women s generally lower economic status. particularly when unmarried Halas 1981 p 124 may mean that the need. to settle down into a secure committed relationship becomes relatively more. crucial for women, The present study looks at differential mate selection by men and women. as reflected in newspaper companion ads Using such a forum for the explo. ration of sex stereotypes is not new for instance in the study by Harrison. and Saeed 1977 cited earlier the authors found that in such ads women. were more likely to seek financial security and men to seek attractiveness. Men as Success Objects and Women as Sex Objects 45. a later study by Deaux and Hanna 1984 had similar results along with the. finding that women were more likely to seek psychological characteristics. specific personality traits and to emphasize the quality and longevity of the. relationship The present study may be seen as a follow up of this earlier. research although on this occasion using a Canadian setting Of particular. interest was the following Were traditional stereotypes still in operation. that is women being viewed as sex objects and men as success objects the. latter defined as financial and intellectual accomplishments. Personal advertisements were taken from the Vancouver Sun which. is the major daily newspaper serving Vancouver British Columbia The Sun. is generally perceived as a conservative respectable journal hence it was. assumed that people advertising in it represented the mainstream It should. be noted that people placing the ads must do so in person For the sake of. this study gay ads were not included A typical ad would run about 50 words. and included a brief description of the person placing it and a list of the at. tributes desired in the other party Only the parts pertaining to the attributes. desired in the partner were included for analysis Attributes that pertained. to hobbies or recreations were not included for the purpose of this study. The ads were sampled as follows Only Saturday ads were used since. in the Sun the convention was for Saturday to be the main day for personal. ads with 40 60 ads per edition compared to only 2 4 ads per edition on. weekdays Within any one edition all the ads were included for analysis Six. editions were randomly sampled covering the period of September 30 1988. to September 30 1989 The attempt to sample through the calendar year was. made in an effort to avoid any unspecified seasonal effect The size of the. sample six editions was large enough to meet goodness of fit requirements. for statistical tests, The attributes listed in the ads were coded as follows.
1 Attractive specified that a partner should be for example pretty. or handsome, 2 Physique similar to 1 however this focused not on the face but. rather on whether the partner was fit and trim muscular or. had a good figure If it was not clear if body or face was being. emphasized this fell into variable 1 by default, 3 Sex specified that the partner should have for instance high sex. drive or should be sensuous or erotic or if there was a clear. message that this was an arrangement for sexual purposes lunch. time liaisons discretion required, 4 Picture specified that the partner should include a photo in his her. 5 Profession specified that the partner should be a professional. 6 Employed specified that the partner should be employed e g must. hold steady job or must have steady income, 7 Financial specified that the partner should be for instance finan. cially secure or financially independent, 8 Education specified that the partner should be for instance well.
educated or well read or should be a college grad, 9 Intelligence specified that the partner should be intelligent in. tellectual or bright, 10 Honest specified for instance that the partner should be honest. or have integrity,11 Humor specified sense of humor or cheerfulness. 12 Commitment specified that the relationship was to be long term. or lead to marriage or some other indication of stability and lon. 13 Emotion specified that the partner should be warm romantic. emotionally supportive emotionally expressive sensitive lov. ing responsive or similar terms indicating an opposition to be. ing cold and aloof, In addition to the 13 attribute variables two other pieces of informa. tion were collected The length of the ad in lines and the age of the person. placing the ad Only if age was exactly specified was it included if age was. vague e g late 40s this was not counted, Variables were measured in the following way Any ad requesting one.
of the 13 attributes was scored once for that attribute If not explicitly men. tioned it was not scored The scoring was thus all or nothing e g no. matter how many times a person in a particular ad stressed that looks were. important it was only counted as a single score in the attractive column. thus each single score represented one person Conceivably an individual. ad could mention all some or none of the variables Comparisons were then. made between the sexes on the basis of the variables using percentages and. chi squares Chi square values were derived by cross tabulating gender. male female with attribute asked for not asked for Degrees of freedom. in all cases equaled one Finally several of the individual variables were col. lapsed to get an overall sense of the relative importance of a physical fac. tors b employment factors and c intellectual factors. A total of 329 personal ads were contained in the six newspaper edi. tions studied One ad was discarded in that it specified a gay relationship. Men as Success Objects and Women as Sex Objects 47. leaving a total sample of 328 Of this number 215 of the ads were placed. by men 65 5070 and 113 by women 34 5070, The mean age of people placing ads was 40 4 One hundred and twenty. seven cases 38 7070 counted as missing data in that the age was not speci. fied or was vague The mean age for the two sexes was similar 39 4 for wom. en with 50 4070 of cases missing and 40 7070 for men with 32 6070 of cases. Sex differences in desired companion attributes are summarized. in Table I It will be seen that for 10 of the 13 variables a statis. tically significant difference was detected The three largest differences. were found for attractiveness professional and financial status To summa. rize the table in the case of attractiveness physique sex and picture phys. ical attributes the men were more likely than the women to seek these In. the case of professional status employment status financial status intelli. gence commitment and emotion nonphysical attributes the women were. more likely to seek these The women were also more likely to specify edu. cation honesty and humor however not at a statistically significant level. The data were explored further by collapsing several of the categories. the first 4 variables were collapsed into a physical category Variables 5 7. were collapsed into an employment category and Variables 8 and 9 were. collapsed into an intellectual category The assumption was that the col. lapsed categories were sufficiently similar within the three new categories. to make the new larger categories conceptually meaningful conversely it. was felt the remaining variables 10 13 could not be meaningfully collapsed. any further, Sex differences for the three collapsed categories are summarized in. Table II Note that the Table II figures were not derived simply by adding. Table 1 Gender Comparison for Attributes Desired in Partner. Desired by men Desired by women,Variable n 215 n 1 1 3 Chi square. 1 Attractive 76 35 3 20 17 7 11 13,2 Physique 81 37 7 27 23 9 7o 6 37. 3 Sex 25 11 6 4 3 5 6 03 a,4 Picture 74 34 4 24 21 2 0 6 18 a.
5 Profession 6 2 8 19 16 8 20 74,6 Employed 8 3 7 12 10 6 6 12. 7 Financial 7 3 2 22 19 5 24 26,8 Education 8 3 7 8 7 107o 1 79 ns. 9 Intelligence 22 10 2 24 21 2O7o 7 46,10 Honest 20 9 3 17 15 0 70 2 44 ns. 11 Humor 36 16 7 26 23 007o 1 89 ns,12 Commitment 38 17 6 31 27 407o 4 25. 13 Emotion 44 20 50 o 35 31 0 o 4 36,Significant at the 05 level.
Table II Gender Comparison for Physical Employment and Intellectual At. tributes Desired in Partner,Desired by men Desired by women. Variable n 215 n 113 Chi square,Physical 143 50 15 13. collapsing 66 5 70 44 2 70,Variables 1 4,Employment 17 47 51 36. collapsing 7 9 070 4 1 607o,variables 5 7,Intellectual 29 31 9 65. collapsing 8 and 9 13 5070 27 4070,aSignificant at the 05 level.
the numbers in the Table I categories recall that for Variables 1 4 a subject. could specify all one or none hence simply adding the Table I figures would. be biased by those individuals who were more effusive in specifying various. physical traits Instead the Table II categories are like Table I all or noth. ing whether a subject specified one or all four of the physical attributes it. would only count once Thus each score represented one person. In brief Table II gives similar although more exaggerated results to. Table I The exaggeration is the result of only one item of several being need. ed to score within a collapsed category The men were more likely than the. women to specify some physical attribute The women were considerably more. likely to specify that the companion be employed or have a profession or. be in good financial shape And the women were more likely to emphasize. the intellectual abilities of their mate, One can incidentally also note from this table an overall indication. of attribute importance by collapsing across sexes i e it is apparent that. physical characteristics are the most desired regardless of sex. DISCUSSION,Sex Differences, This study found that the attitudes o f the subjects in terms of desired. companion attributes were consistent with traditional sex role stereotypes. The men were more likely to emphasize stereotypcially desirable feminine. traits appearance and deemphasize the nonfeminine traits financial em. ployment and intellectual status One inconsistency was that emotional ex. pressiveness is a feminine trait but was emphasized relatively less by the men. Men as Success Objects and Women as Sex Objects 49. Women on the other hand were more likely to emphasize masculine traits. such as financial employment and ifitellectual status and valued commit. ment in a relationship more highly One inconsistency detected for the women. concerned the fact that although emotional expressiveness is not a mascu. line trait the women in this sample asked for it relatively more than the. men anyway Regarding this last point it may be relevant to refer to Basow s. 1986 p 210 conclusion that women prefer relatively androgynous men. but men especially traditional ones prefer relatively sex typed women. These findings are similar to results from earlier studies e g Deaux. and Hanna 1984 and indicate that at this point in time and in this setting. sex role stereotyping is still in operation, One secondary finding that was of some interest to the author was that. considerably more men than women placed personal a d s a l m o s t a 2 1 ra. tio One can only speculate as to why this was so however there are proba. Sex Roles Vol 23 Nos 1 2 1990 Men as Success Objects and Women as Sex Objects A Study of Personal Advertisements Simon Davis

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