This paper tests three competing explanationsfor male-female differences in sado-masochistic sexualarousal. The male arousal hypothesis posits that becauseof socialization that emphasizes sexual aggression and experimentation (and thus higher levels ofsexual arousal and activity in all areas), men will bemore aroused by both sadism and masochism than women.The female masochism hypothesis argues that because females are socialized to be passive, they willbe more aroused by masochistic (but not sadistic)activities than males. The convergence hypothesis notesthat male female socialization (and differences in most sexual attitudes and behavior) haveconverged in recent years, and hypothesizes that thesame convergence has taken place in arousal caused bysado-masochistic behavior and fantasy. Using a sample comprised of 320 undergraduate students (69%white, 27% African American, 4% other) from a largeurban university in the Southeast, we found no evidencefor the female masochism hypothesis and only weak evidence for the convergence hypothesis. Thestrongest evidence was for the male arousal hypotheses,with males scoring significantly higher than females onseven of the twelve measures of sado-masochistic arousal, and no differently from females on theremaining five.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 6, 2004
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