This study examined experiences of external and internalized heterosexism and sexism and their links to coping styles and psychological distress among 473 sexual minority women. Using an online sample of United States lesbian and bisexual women, the findings indicated that many participants experienced heterosexist and sexist events at least once during the past 6 months, and a number of participants indicated some level of internalized oppression. Supporting an additive multiple oppression perspective, the results revealed that when examined concurrently heterosexist events, sexist events, internalized heterosexism, and internalized sexism were unique predictors of psychological distress. In addition, suppressive coping and reactive coping, considered to be maladaptive coping strategies, mediated the external heterosexism-distress, internalized heterosexism-distress, and internalized sexism-distress links but did not mediate the external sexism-distress link. Reflective coping, considered to be an adaptive coping strategy, did not mediate the relations between external and internalized heterosexism and sexism and psychological distress. Finally, the variables in the model accounted for 54 % of the variance in psychological distress scores. These findings suggest that maladaptive but not adaptive coping strategies help explain the relationship between various oppressive experiences and psychological distress.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 26, 2013
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