Masculine Status, Sexual Performance, and the Sexual Stigmatization of Women

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Abstract

Collegiate hookup culture advances ideas of masculinity but contradicts notions of appropriate feminine sexuality. Drawing on focus group and interview data with college students, I examine how a group of class- and race-privileged fraternity men face dilemmas as they enact a group constructed masculinity focused on sexual performance and the objectification of women. I employ a symbolic interactionist framework to illustrate how men, attentive to peer status yet anxious about the sexual stigmatization of women, draw on cultural ideas about appropriate feminine sexuality as they account for their approaches to sex and women (both with whom they interact sexually and how) along a range of intimacy—from hookups to committed relationships. I demonstrate that heterosexual interaction does not unequivocally link to masculine status and that men sometimes strive to limit the impact of casual sex or avoid it altogether.

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