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Communication and Gender- Attitudes Toward Sexuality

Communication and Gender- Attitudes Toward Sexuality

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Published by David Matchey
Psych Class Paper - Can be used as reference for more than one 332/# used for classes/class_type
Psych Class Paper - Can be used as reference for more than one 332/# used for classes/class_type

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Published by: David Matchey on Sep 12, 2013
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 Communication and Gender: Attitudes Toward Sexuality David Matchey In partial fulfilment of the requirements for PSYC332Maryka Biaggio Both positive and negative sources of arousal are influenced by our attitudes towardsexuality, and there are differences with regard to gender when it comes to arousal andcommunication. One's attitude toward sexuality may positively or negatively influencerelationships when it comes to sex and other nonsexual activities. This paper willconcentrate on the sexual activities and thoughts that make up a relationship, and thenmove on to the non-sexual communication that makes up a relationship.Researchers have developed measures to assess attitudes about sexuality,including the Sexual Opinion Survey and the Sex Guilt Scale. The Sexual OpinionSurvey (SOS) consists of 21 items, and includes phrases such as "The thought of engaging in highly unusual sex practices is highly arousing," and "I personally find thatthinking about engaging in sexual intercourse is arousing," that survey takers rate on ascale from 1 (Strongly Agree) to 7 (Strongly Disagree) (Sexual Opinion Survey). Thescore is then computed and the tested person is put on a scale ranging from erotophilic(positive responses, the person is comfortable about sexuality) to erotophobic (negativeresponses, the person is not comfortable about sexuality).Erotophilia-erotophobia can also be influenced by gender. In most studies,females are more erotophobic. In a study that measured that examined the effects of anonymity, gender and erotophilia on self-reports of sexual behaviors, it was found thatwomen even preferred not to respond to sensitive items and at times even terminatedthe interviews. There was a perceived threat of the assessment questions bywomen. Women may tend to be more erotophobic than males because of the operantconditioning they receive as children. Women are more exposed to negative messagesabout sexuality while growing up, and may receive punishments if it is discoveredthat they are masturbating, keeping a diary about sex and sexual feelings, or sharingtheir feelings on sexuality with others. This is due to having erotophobic parents, whoshun the topic of sex and do not give their children any information having to do withsexuality.The Sex Guilt Scale, which measures the expectancy for self-punishment for violating internalized standards of proper sexual self-conduct. In one study involvingcollege students, it was found that there was an inverse correlation between sexual guiltand sexual behavior. Meaning, the more erotophilic the person was, the less guilt the
person experienced when confronted with sexual stimuli. Donald Mosher, who inventedthe measure of sex guilt in 1966 (Allgeier, 2000), assumed that people who feel guiltyabout their sexual responses were those individuals who were scolded and punishedin childhood for their interest in sex and sexuality. The Sex Guilt Scale, like the SexualOpinion Survey, is on a 7 point scale and includes sexually-themed, complete-the-sentence type questions, such as "Masturbation" is either "wrong and will ruin you"or "helps you feel eased and relaxed" (Allgeier, 2000).Parents who are erotophobic may contribute to the erotophobia of a child, whichthen develops into erotophobia as an adult, by being punitory when the child begins todisplay sexual behavior. Most parents tend to experience considerable anxiety whenit comes to providing sexual information to their children -- this is why "the birds andthe bees" talk is such a monumental event. These sexual fears and anxiety are alsoprecursors of certain moral abasement (Allgeier, 2000). People whose sex guilt is hightend to avoid sexual experiences, which puts negative pressure on their developmentof sexual morality. Institutions such as education, religion and media can also influencethese sexual fears.Girls receive more unwanted sexual attention than do boys during childhood, butare less likely to masturbate than are boys. There are most likely different culturalexpectations that affect why males and females respond to sexually-toned materialdifferently. Men are generally more interested sex than women, when participants aremeasured using the survey research method (Allgeier, 2000). Experimental research,however, has shown that men and women respond similarly to erotic material. Thisdifference could be explained by women wanting to appear more sexually conservative,whereas men would conform to the cultural norm of sex being more appropriate for menby overcompensating for their interest in this material.The communication of sexual feelings, then, is also an area where there aredifferences between males and females. In most families it is more acceptable for girlsthan boys to talk about their positive or depressed emotions, and more acceptable for boys than for girls to talk about their hostile feelings and sexual desires. There is also atendency for males to be taught that they must suppress their feelings. Females, on theother hand, are prompted to provide more in-depth information about their emotions.When these boys and girls grow up and start heterosexual relationships with eachother, these differences may be highlighted when it comes to speaking of the difficulty inresolving conflicts through the communication of feelings.Behavioral and emotional responses in "troubles talk" situations have shown thatmen and women differ in communication style (Michaud, 1997). Women are typicallydescribed as more expressive, more relationship-oriented and more concerned withmaintaining intimacy. Men, on the other hand, are described, for the most part, asmore instrumental, task-oriented and concerned with gathering information or withmaintaining social status or power. For most women, language is used for establishinga relationship, while for men it is used to assert one's independence.As a consequence in these differences in communication style, there may bebehavioral differences when it comes to resolving difficult issues in a relationship.These behaviors are also then interpreted differently, and men and women feel differentemotional responses to sympathy and advice, respectively. Men are more likely togive advice or remain silent, as a way to avoid emotional expression. Women are

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