Effect of Gender Role Norms on Feelings about Virginity Status in Women
Gender role norms influence men and women to behave in ways that are considered socially acceptable in society. Similar to gender role norms, sexual norms influence the sexual behavior and attitudes of men and women in society, with one of the most influential norms being the sexual double standard. However, the sexual double standard appears to be changing, in that the . age of first intercourse is roughly the same between men and women, and women have begun to adopt masculine gender roles. Despite this, women's attitudes and feelings toward their sexual activity are still reportedly negative. Therefore, a possible explanation that women are adversely affected by gender role norms because their social network supports such norms was examined (Crawford & Popp, 2003). This study measured the effect of traditional versus non-traditional gender norm messages on young women's feelings regarding their own virginity status. Data came from a longitudinal study using undergraduate students at a Midwestern university. A secondary analysis was done using 82 heterosexual single women, age 18 to 22 years. The hypothesis that women who were non-virgins and received traditional messages would experience higher negative feelings and lower positive feelings was not supported. A main effect of feelings was found indicating that the majority of virgins and non-virgin participants had overall higher positive than negative feelings. A second analysis done on the effect of receiving the "ladylike/proper" message found a main effect of this message, indicating that women who received the message had significantly higher negative feelings than those who did not receive the message. The results indicate that women are emotionally influenced by the "ladylike/proper" message, but not as a result of their virginity status. Future studies should better define "virginity" and "virginity loss."
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