Too good for sex?
Many men still believe there are two kinds of women: good, chaste, nurturing women – and seductive, manipulative women who have loads of sex. This belief is called the ‘Madonna-Whore dichotomy’, and a study in Israel looked at the effects it has on romantic relationships.
In the study, over 100 mostly young guys answered questions on their thoughts about women and sex. For example, the researchers asked them if they thought a woman could be both nurturing and sexual at the same time and if they felt a woman who’s a virgin has more positive traits.
The guys also answered questions about their beliefs on gender roles, like whether men are the dominant sex and women needed to be protected.
Guys who feel there are rigid gender roles – that men should be dominant and women should be cared for by them – are the ones who tend to believe that women are either sexually pure or promiscuous.
This belief has pretty serious consequences for both men and women in relationships, say the study’s authors. For women, it leads to objectification, which basically means being treated as not much more than sexual body parts.
It also leads to double standards that say a man can do whatever he wants when it comes to sex, whereas a woman shouldn’t.
But there are also consequences for guys. As the study’s lead researcher put it, ‘These men may have difficulties feeling attracted to the women they love, or loving the women to whom they are sexually attracted.’ The result is that they may never be happy in their relationships.
This brings us back to your classmate. If all signs point to her being a great romantic match and you spend hours together talking and even you find her attractive, the thing should be pretty clear. It might be worth giving some thought to your views on the roles of men and women and what’s stopping you from moving from friendship to romance.
Bareket, O., Kahalon, R., Shnabel, N. & Glick, P. (2018) The Madonna-Whore Dichotomy: Men Who Perceive Women’s Nurturance and Sexuality as Mutually Exclusive Endorse Patriarchy and Show Lower Relationship Satisfaction. Sex Roles.
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