Study: Traditional ‘scripts’ for sexuality leave heterosexual men feeling left out


Do heterosexual men feel desired in their relationships? Survey says: No.

A pair of Canadian researchers recently conducted a study involving 300 men between the ages of 18 and 65. Participants were sourced from Reddit and, apparently, self-identified as heterosexual.

The men were asked questions relating to how “desired” they feel in their relationships. Surprisingly, nearly 90% of the participants indicated they didn’t feel as wanted as they would like.

Per the study:

Current sexual scripts for heterosexual relationships in the Western world stipulate that men should be the ones to initiate sexual activity, push to the next level of physical intimacy, and to desire women (and not be desirable themselves). However, there is building evidence that sexual scripts and gender roles are not only limited, they may be evolving and shifting over time.

So what does this mean? It’s tempting to chalk it up to the modern anti-toxicity movement. Or, if you’re a right-wing type, it might be easier to believe some idiotic nonsense like “men today aren’t as stoic and tough as they used to be.”

But decades of scientific study would suggest otherwise.

The Canadian researchers based their study on an idea one of the team members coined in a previous research paper called “object of desire self-consciousness theory.”

According to that paper, the authors suggest:

Object of desire self-consciousness may be an adaptive, evolved psychological mechanism allowing sexual and romantic tactics suitable to one’s mate value. The authors also suggest that it can act as a signal that one has high mate value in the sexual marketplace.

Let’s read that last line again: “high mate value in the sexual marketplace.” Sounds dystopian right?

Keep in mind that the big idea here has nothing to do with sex work or an actual “marketplace.” This is more like the marketplace of ideas in that it only exists as a method for visualizing sexuality at the societal level.

What the researchers are getting at is a much, much more complex system than one that simply addresses economics.

In this case, they’re referring to a sort of encapsulation of sexuality as a mechanism for assessing one’s self-worth.

This seems to demonstrate so-called neurotypical allosexuals assign sexual “value” to others based on their perceived attractiveness, and men tend to internalize that as a measure of their own desirability.

On average, it would seem the more attractive a heterosexual man perceives a woman to be, the more weight their desire has.

Both studies are interesting, but it’s difficult to draw strong conclusions from this work. The paper on the theory is interesting, but the resultant study in the second paper lacks robustness.

A study conducted on 300 heterosexual men is, well, not a study on male sexuality. It’s a study on heterosexuals.

Hot take: show me 300 heterosexual men and I’ll show you at least 75 liars.

H/t: Psychology Today


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