Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Feminists Make Better Lovers

That is what a new study tells us! What fun for me to do the kind of popularization I usually tear apart here! This is GOOD study, my feminist friends. It must be, because these are its results:
The general perception of the society focuses on a direct conflict between feminism and romance.

Therefore, Laurie Rudman and Julie Phelan, from Rutgers University in the US, carried out a study to challenge this perception.

They conducted a laboratory survey of 242 American undergraduates and an online survey including 289 older adults who were more likely to have had longer relationships and greater life experience.

They looked at the perception of men and women of their own feminism and its link to relationship health, measured by a combination of overall relationship quality, agreement about gender equality, relationship stability and sexual satisfaction.

The findings of the survey showed that having a feminist partner was associated with healthier heterosexual relationships for women. Men with feminist partners also reported both more stable relationships and greater sexual satisfaction.
I haven't seen the study so I can't tell you whether it covers gay and lesbian relationships, too. In fact, I know nothing about the study except this popularization. Which is, of course, the usual case with amateur readership of all study popularizations. Therefore, I'm gonna believe its findings or argue over them based on what I might personally think! That's also par for the route.

But note one sentence in the above summary:
Therefore, Laurie Rudman and Julie Phelan, from Rutgers University in the US, carried out a study to challenge this perception.
Academics never say things like that. No academic researcher states that she or he is going to challenge a perception but to study the perception and its validity. My guess is that the popularizer made that change.

None of the above gentle snark is intended to make an assessment of the study. I would think that feminists might indeed make better lovers, mostly because we are fantastically beautiful and handsome people who see other people not as pointy or indented sex objects but as people. That makes a long-term relationship go a lot better.

On that beautiful external shell of feminists:
The study also shows that unflattering feminist stereotypes, that tend to stigmatise feminists as unattractive and sexually unappealing, are unsupported.
But we knew that already!

Here's the slightly nasty bit in the popularization:
The researchers also examined the validity of feminist stereotypical beliefs amongst their two samples, based on the hypothesis that if feminist stereotypes are accurate, then feminist women should be more likely to report themselves as being single, lesbian, or sexually unattractive, compared with non-feminist women.
The authors found no support for this hypothesis amongst their study participants.  In fact, feminist women were more likely to be in a heterosexual romantic relationship than non-feminist women.
Bolds are mine. The summary may not have intended to lump single women, lesbians and sexually unattractive women together the way it did. I suspect that it wanted to discuss two different stereotypes about feminists: a) that women become feminists because they are lesbians who don't really care about romantic relationships with men and b) the stereotype that only ugly heterosexual women become feminists and that ugly women cannot find men so they won't be in a romantic heterosexual relationship.

Neither of those stereotypes makes much logical sense to begin with. The first one suggests that heterosexual men don't want anything to do with women on equal terms and the second one is just the usual feminists-need-to-get-laid argument.

I wonder if this study will be all over the newspapers and television? Heh.
Link courtesy of Jennifer Armstrong.