The Madonna-Whore Dichotomy Is Associated With Patriarchy Endorsement: Evidence From Israel, the United States, and Germany

Rotem Kahalon, Orly Bareket, Andrea C. Vial, Nora Sassenhagen, Julia C. Becker, Nurit Shnabel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The madonna-whore dichotomy denotes polarized perceptions of women as either good and chaste or as bad and promiscuous. In the present research, we examined the correlates of madonna-whore dichotomy among samples of heterosexual Israeli, U.S., and German women and heterosexual U.S. and German men. Demonstrating cross-cultural generalizability, madonna-whore dichotomy endorsement correlated with endorsement of patriarchy-supporting ideologies across samples. U.S. (but not German) men’s madonna-whore dichotomy endorsement negatively correlated with their sexual satisfaction in romantic relationships, which in turn predicted lower general relationship satisfaction. Among women, madonna-whore dichotomy endorsement did not correlate with sexual or general relationship satisfaction. These findings (a) support the feminist perspective on the madonna-whore dichotomy, which points to the role of the stereotype in policing women and limiting their sexual freedom; and (b) provide evidence that madonna-whore dichotomy endorsement can have personal costs for men. Increasing awareness to the motivations underlying the madonna-whore dichotomy endorsement and its costs can be beneficial at the social and personal levels for women and men, by providing knowledge that may help in developing focused interventions to change existing perceptions and scripts about sexuality, and perhaps foster more satisfying heterosexual relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)348-367
Number of pages20
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Volume43
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

Keywords

  • gender attitudes
  • madonna-whore dichotomy
  • patriarchy-supporting ideologies
  • relationship satisfaction
  • sexism
  • sexual satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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