I would like to thank the Psychology 83 class at Kenyon for their assistance on this project. In particular, Maggie Fielding, Lonnie Manns, Kelly Brandow, Molly Hatcher, and Gretchen Kaluzny contributed a lot of work to data collection.
GENDER AND THE USE OF SEXUALLY DEGRADING LANGUAGE
Article first published online: 28 JUL 2006
Psychology of Women Quarterly
Volume 24, Issue 4, pages 319–327, December 2000
How to Cite
Murnen, S. K. (2000), GENDER AND THE USE OF SEXUALLY DEGRADING LANGUAGE. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 24: 319–327. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.2000.tb00214.x
- Issue published online: 28 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 28 JUL 2006
- Initial submission: March 15, 2000 Initial acceptance: May 24, 2000 Final acceptance: June 23, 2000
Based on feminist social constructionist theory, it was proposed that the sexual language women and men used would reflect male sexual power over women through degradation and objectification. In the first study, 79 women and 88 men (36 of whom were fraternity members) reported anonymously on the sexual language they used. The strongest effects found were that men (particularly those in a fraternity) were likely to use sexually degrading terms to refer to female genitals. Men were more likely than women to use aggressive terms to refer to copulation. In a second study, 56 women and 47 men college participants listened to a conversation between either two women or two men in which they were talking about having sex with someone they just met the night before. The speaker either used more degrading or less degrading language. In general, people judged anyone who used degrading language negatively. The person who was the object in the more degrading conversation compared to the less degrading conversation was judged as less intelligent and less moral. The results suggest that gender is associated with the sexual language people use, and that the degradation and objectification present in the sexual language men sometimes use might have harmful consequences on the person being objectified.