Clinging to patriarchal beliefs likely won't do your relationship any favors. Clinging to patriarchal beliefs likely won't do your relationship any favors. Clinging to patriarchal beliefs likely won't do your relationship any favors. (Photo: Dean Drobot / Shutterstock)

This one ingredient may determine a relationship's success

New study brings scientific backing to a commonly held belief.

Do men who believe in gender equality have more satisfying relationships?

A new study seems to think so. Orly Bareket and Rotem Kahalon, both doctoral students at Tel Aviv University in Israel, just published a study exploring a common relationship mistake: how sexist men feel threatened by women and therefore have "chronic dissatisfaction" in their romantic relationships. While much of the surrounding news coverage has focused on that finding, the scientists also see another aspect.

"I think that the positive lesson for our research is that endorsing more egalitarian social ideologies and gender roles can predict more stable and sexually satisfying heterosexual romantic relationships," Bareket told From The Grapevine. "I think that the positive take home message from our research is that reducing gender inequality, and the ideologies that support it, is good for everyone – men as well as women."

Their study – co-authored with Peter Glick of Lawrence University in Wisconsin – was published this month in the scientific journal Sex Roles.

Their research comes in the midst of the burgeoning #MeToo movement, which began in Hollywood and has now reached far beyond. It has sparked a national conversation about everything from sexual harassment to equal pay. American actor David Schwimmer and Israeli director Sigal Avin launched a series of videos this week around the hashtag #ThatsHarassment that document real stories from women who have been harassed by men in positions of authority.

Bareket believes that her research is indirectly related to the movement. "One of the criticism on #MeToo is that it mainly deals with women's victimization, whereas we show that men are also victims of a patriarchal society."

The new study, which examined issues related to sexual objectification, was based on an online questionnaire completed by 108 heterosexual Israeli men. Of them, 77 percent were younger than 30 years old, and 55 percent were single. They answered questions about how they perceived a woman's sexuality, whether being nurturing and sexual are mutually exclusive, and whether chaste women have more positive traits than others.

Bareket and Kahalon hope to do a follow-up study with female participants. But their initial hunch is that their findings will be similar. "We believe that women who endorse this polarized perception in particular and patriarchal views more generally will be less satisfied also in their relationships," Bareket told us.

In other words, women are likely more attracted to men who believe in gender equality.


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