Sex Roles [sers] PP623-sers-452339 September 13, 2002 14:56 Style ﬁle version June 3rd, 2002
Sex Roles, Vol. 46, Nos. 11/12, June 2002 (
If “Boys Will Be Boys,” Then Girls Will Be Victims?
A Meta-Analytic Review of the Research That Relates
Masculine Ideology to Sexual Aggression
Sarah K. Murnen,
and Gretchen Kaluzny
In feminist sociocultural models of rape, extreme adherence to the masculine gender role is
implicated in the perpetuation of sexual assault against women in that it encourages men to
be dominant and aggressive, and it teaches that women are inferior to men and are sometimes
worthy of victimization. Many researchers have linked components of masculine ideology to
self-reports of past sexual aggression or future likelihood to rape. Thirty-nine effect sizes were
examined in this meta-analysis across 11 different measures of masculine ideology to deter-
mine how strongly each index of masculine ideology was associated with sexual aggression.
Although 10 of the 11 effect sizes were statistically signiﬁcant, the 2 largest effects were for
Malamuth’s construct of “hostile masculinity” (e.g., Malamuth, Sockloskie, Koss, & Tanaka,
1991) and Mosher’s construct of “hypermasculinity” (e.g., Mosher & Sirkin, 1984), both of
which measure multiple components of masculine ideology including acceptance of aggres-
sion against women and negative, hostile beliefs about women. The next strongest relationships
concerned measures of agreement that men are dominant over women and measures of hostil-
ity toward women. Scores on general measures of gender-role adherence, such as the Bem Sex
Role Inventory (Bem, 1974), were not strong predictors of sexual aggression. Sociocultural
models that link patriarchal masculine ideology and situational factors to sexual aggression
should prove most predictive in future research.
KEY WORDS: masculinity; sexual aggression; rape.
Feminist sociocultural models of rape posit
that the patriarchal structure of society perpetuates
sexual violence against women. According to the
social control model of rape, the male-dominated
structure of society is maintained by various societal
factors including sexual violence against women
(e.g., Brownmiller, 1975; Grifﬁn, 1979; Shefﬁeld,
1987). Sexual violence keeps women in a state of
fear so that they are dependent on others for their
survival. Such theories have a relatively long history.
One of the ﬁrst people to propose and begin to test
a feminist sociocultural model was Martha Burt
Department of Psychology, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department
of Psychology, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio 43022; e-mail:
(1980) who hypothesized that “rape is the logical and
psychological extension of a dominant-submissive,
competitive, sex-role stereotyped culture” (p. 229).
The purpose of the present study is to examine
the sociocultural model of sexual aggression (SA)
by synthesizing quantitatively the body of research
that links masculine ideology to sexual violence. It
is hypothesized that to the extent that men agree
with an extreme form of masculinity that represents
support for patriarchy ideology, they are more likely
to be sexually aggressive toward women.
In support of sociocultural models of rape, cross-
cultural researchers have found that rape rates vary
along with aspects of the societal structure. In a study
of 156 tribal societies, Sanday (1981) found that there
was cross-cultural variation in rape rates and that
there were reliable differences between “rape-prone”
2002 Plenum Publishing Corporation