Lisa Rosenthal and Sheri R. Levy, Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University.
UNDERSTANDING WOMEN'S RISK FOR HIV INFECTION USING SOCIAL DOMINANCE THEORY AND THE FOUR BASES OF GENDERED POWER
Article first published online: 8 FEB 2010
© 2010 Division 35, American Psychological Association
Psychology of Women Quarterly
Volume 34, Issue 1, pages 21–35, March 2010
How to Cite
Rosenthal, L. and Levy, S. R. (2010), UNDERSTANDING WOMEN'S RISK FOR HIV INFECTION USING SOCIAL DOMINANCE THEORY AND THE FOUR BASES OF GENDERED POWER. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 34: 21–35. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.2009.01538.x
We are grateful to Joanne Davila, Michael Kimmel, Marci Lobel, Bonita London, and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.
- Issue published online: 8 FEB 2010
- Article first published online: 8 FEB 2010
- Initial submission: March 16, 2009Initial acceptance: August 28, 2009Final acceptance: September 30, 2009
Theoretical models to date have fallen short of accounting for the alarming worldwide rates of HIV infection in women through heterosexual contact. In this article, social dominance theory and the four bases of gendered power—force, resource control, social obligations, and consensual ideologies—are used to organize and explain international research findings on women's risk of contracting HIV from male sexual partners. Research suggests that the four bases of gendered power contribute to women having less power than men in heterosexual relationships, resulting in challenges to preventing HIV transmission from male partners. Social dominance theory also recognizes the intersections among various group-based hierarchies, such as race and class, thereby helping explain why women of color and low-income women are disproportionately affected by HIV. The intergroup focus of social dominance theory points to gender inequality as increasing men's risk of HIV infection as well, and the construct of social dominance orientation helps to explain individual differences in HIV risk behavior. We discuss the ways the current theoretical framework can prove useful in helping to guide future research addressing the connections between power and HIV risk, including exploring mediators and links to other theoretical models. We also discuss the implications the framework has for intervention efforts aimed at reducing HIV rates worldwide, such as supporting efforts at increasing women's representation in hierarchy-enhancing positions, incorporating empowerment issues into current interventions, promoting use of female condoms, and targeting heterosexual men for interventions.