Correlates of Negative Attitudes toward Gay Men: Sexism, Male Role Norms, and Male Sexuality
Davies, Michelle, The Journal of Sex Research
Research has shown that heterosexual men tend to hold more negative attitudes toward homosexuality than heterosexual women do (Kite & Whitley, 1996, 1998). More specifically, men's attitudes toward gay men are generally more negative than are their attitudes toward lesbians (e.g., Kite & Whitley, 1996, 1998). Traditional gender belief systems encourage men to be more negative toward homosexuality--particularly more negative toward gay men--than they do women. Men are encouraged by Western society to endorse more traditional views about gender roles than women are, and part of the traditional gender role belief system is to be homophobic (e.g., Kite & Whitley, 1998; Herek, 1986). Herek (1986) succinctly stated, "To be a man in society is to be homophobic" (p. 563). Male gender roles are more clearly defined in society than female roles are, and there are more sanctions imposed on men who are seen to violate these roles than there are on women (Archer, 1989). Thus, heterosexual men's negative attitudes toward gay men are reasoned to stem, at least in part, from their conformity to traditional gender belief systems (Kite & Whitley, 1998). Negative beliefs about the roles of women and attitudes toward male gender roles are also part of the traditional gender belief system and are both correlated with negative attitudes toward gay men (e.g., Agnew, Thompson, Smith, Gramzow, & Currey, 1993; Herek, 1988; LaMar & Kite, 1998; Sinn, 1997; Whitley, 2001; see also Kite & Whitley, 1998, for a review). It seems, therefore, that negative attitudes toward gay men are part of a larger construct than just negative attitudes toward homosexuality and that endorsing all of these attitudes demonstrates a general belief in traditional gender roles.
Attitudes toward homosexuality are complex and multifaceted. Kite and Whitley (1996) classified attitudes toward homosexuality into three subcomponents: attitudes toward homosexual persons, attitudes toward homosexual behaviour, and attitudes toward gay people's civil fights. Attitudes toward homosexual persons was conceptualised by Kite and Whitley as "homosexuality as a threat to the respondent, to people close to the respondent, and to strangers, and the management of homosexuality by means of social restrictions"(p. 337). In contrast, they conceptualised attitudes toward homosexual behaviour as "the moral reprehensability of homosexuality as a deviant sexual act and lifestyle" (p. 339). Finally, they conceptualised attitudes toward gay and lesbian civil fights as "issues such as free speech, parental rights, and other legal and constitutional issues" (p. 339).
In a meta-analysis of 112 studies that had investigated attitudes toward homosexuality, Kite and Whitley (1996) showed that gender differences were evident in attitudes toward homosexual persons and attitudes toward homosexual behaviour, with men being more negative than women. However, they found no clear gender difference on attitudes toward gay people's civil fights. Whilst many people believe that lesbians and gay men deserve the same civil fights as the heterosexual population, they still hold very negative attitudes toward gay people and their sexual behaviour (Kite & Whitely, 1996, 1998). Adding to Kite and Whitley's (1996) conceptions of attitudes toward homosexual persons and homosexual behaviour, LaMar and Kite (1998) grouped these attitudes conceptually as condemnation of or moral judgements toward homosexuals. More recently, Whitley (2001) made the distinction between the affective measurement of attitudes toward homosexuals (using items from Crites, Fabrigar, & Petty's  affect scale) and beliefs about homosexuals. His beliefs scale assessed endorsement of certain stereotypes to do with homosexuals, such as "gay men have feminine characteristics" or "gay men's mothers are very domineering" (Whitley, 2001, p. 706). Whitley investigated the relationships between affective judgements toward homosexuals and beliefs about homosexuals and found that these two types of measures were highly correlated. …