This study examined the relationship of ambivalent sexism, political conservatism, demographic variables (age, education, and gender), and prior sexual experience to Turkish men's and women's attitudes toward women who engage in premarital sex. Participants included 124 Turkish undergraduate students and 60 nonstudent Turkish adults. Benevolent but not hostile sexism uniquely predicted more negative views of women who engage in premarital sex once other variables were controlled Regression analyses demonstrated that for both men and women, older, mole politically conservative and less sexually experienced respondents and more educated men (but not women) respondents were more likely to disapprove of women who engage in premarital sex. Similarly, regression analysis revealed that men who were older, politically conservative, and less sexually experienced expressed stronger preferences for marrying a virgin. Both hostile and benevolent sexism predicted men's preference for marrying a virgin after all other Variables were controlled.
Premarital sex may be viewed as acceptable (or even beencouraged) for men but can he stigmatizing for women. Although such traditional attitudes are currently less pronounced in Western nations (where attitudes about premarital sex are generally permissive: Iwawaki & Eysenck, 1978), traditional gender attitudes remain strong in many Asian and Middle Eastern societies, such as Turkey (Kocturk, 1992; Parla, 2001, India (Kanekar & Kolsawalla, 1983), Iran (Shapurian & Hojat, 1985), Morocco (Mernissi, 1982), Indonesia and Taiwan (Buss, 1989, as cited in Widmer, Treas, & Newcomb, 199g), and China (Higgins, Zheng, Liu, & Sun, 2002). The current study explored attitudes toward women who engage in premarital sex in Turkey, a relatively tradi0omd society in which women may still be significantly disrespected and penalized for having sex before marriage.
In gender traditional nations, the consequences of negative attitudes about women who have premarital sex are far from trivial. Women who are known to have engaged in premarital sex are not only disrespected (Kanekar & Kolsawalla, 1983) but may face myriad forms of discrimination, including serious social and family problems (Bekker et al., 1996), involuntary virginity examinations (Parla, 2001), surgical reconstruction of the hymen (Bekker et al., 1996), and physical abuse for failing to "'protect" their virginity (Ayotte. 2000). Additionally, women who have sex before marriage are viewed as less desirable marriage partners (Yeni yiizyd, 1998, as cited in Sakalli, Karakurt, & Ugurlu, 2001) and may be seen as having stained their own honor and the honor of their families (Kogttirk, 1992; Parla, 2001 ; Sever & Yurdakuh 2001).
More specifically, in Turkey, premarital female virginity is still considered an important indicator of a woman's purity and innocence (Kocturk. 1992; Parla. 2001), and although sexuality before marriage is acceptable for men, it is strongly discouraged for women (Kayir, [995). Although recent studies suggest increasing tolerance among Turkish respondents for women having sex before marriage (Erkmen. Dilbaz, Seber. Kaptanoglu. & Tekin. 1990: Sakalh et al., 2001: Ulu & Ugurlu, 1999). gender-traditional attitudes linger, especially in the form of benevolent sexism (Glick & Fiske, 1996). a subtle (though traditional) form of sexism that is strongly endorsed in Turkey (Glick et al., 2000). Theoretically, there is reason to believe that benevolent rather than hostile sexism may be of special importance to understanding the disapproval of and discrimination against women who engage in premarital sex.
Ambivalent sexism theory (Glick & Fiske, 1996, 2001) posits that traditional attitudes toward women have a benevolent as well as a hostile component, which work in concert to reinforce men's power and women's subordination. Benevolent sexism (BS) is a set of …