Men tell homophobic jokes because of their own fragile masculinity, study finds
A study has found that straight men are more receptive to gay jokes when they feel their masculinity has been undermined.
The news comes from a study carried out by researchers at Western Carolina University, North Carolina.
In news that may give pause to douchebag comedians everywhere, there is a strong link between men who feel that their masculinity is undermined, and men who take solace in sexist or homophobic humour.
The researchers had men undergo a fake personality test and role-play session, with half the men afterwards receiving feedback suggesting they had “a highly feminine personality” – intended to undermine their masculinity.
After the feedback, all the men were asked to rate a series of jokes, including jokes that contain homophobic, sexist and anti-Muslim sentiment.
The researchers found that the men who were told that they have a feminine personality are more likely to rate the homophobic and sexist jokes highly, while men who were not given feedback consistently rated them lower.
The same correlation was not measured for the anti-Muslim and neutral jokes, suggesting the link between masculinity and gender plays a role.
Researcher Emma O’Connor wrote: “Men higher in precarious manhood beliefs expressed amusement with sexist and anti-gay humour in response to a masculinity threat because they believe it reaffirms an accurate, more masculine impression of them.
“It appears that by showing amusement with sexist and anti-gay humour, such men can distance themselves from the traits they want to disconfirm.”
She adds: “Women and gay men symbolize femininity, the antithesis of masculinity. Thus, by expressing disdain or prejudice against women and gay men, men higher in PMB (precarious manhood beliefs) can distance themselves from the traits they want to disconfirm in themselves.
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