Thursday, April 30, 2009

Masculinity is associated with opposing gay marriage: Today's debate about gay marriage at Secular Right got me thinking about who, in my experience, seems to have the biggest objection to homosexuality. Of course, many churchgoing people oppose the behavior on religious grounds, but rarely have I personally witnessed animus coming from those kinds of people. Religious people I know talk about love and forgiveness, and tend to have a gentle, even feminine way about them. It often feels quite leftish. Look at Ms. California when she was asked if she had anything to say to Perez Hilton, the gay man who called her a dumb bitch and a c**t after she said publicly that she was against gay marriage. She answered that the first thing she would do is hug him. Yuck, I know, but you can't really say she sounds like a hater. (If someone called me that, my good Christian self would have told him to take his ugly ass and 'do and go f*** himself.)

It doesn't come through on this blog--obvious at the moment--but my personality is pretty damn mild. When I was a devout Christian in college, I had a tough-guy friend who was going on about how sickening homosexuality is. He was of the same faith. I told him that homosexual sex is just sin--the same as if he had premarital sex. Whether we like it or not, I said, God commands that we love everybody and that we separate bad behaviors from the person. He was shocked that I talked like that, but he knew that I was doctrinally correct and so dropped the topic. It seemed to me that his hostility came from his sense of masculinity, not from his belief system. I've personally heard perhaps 10 people say really nasty things about homosexuals. They were all men, and they were all tough guys.

Which leads to my question: Does level of masculinity correlate with opposition to gay marriage? I came up with two different measures: gender and hunting. Gender is an obvious indicator of masculinity, and hunting seems like a good one as well. Using GSS data from 4,146 Americans, I calculated logistic regression coefficients. The dependent variable is, do you agree that homosexuals have the right to marry. The third independent variable is belief in God.

Logistic regression coefficients

Belief in God -.462
Male -.644
Hunts -.687

All are significant at the .01 level with a two-tailed test. So, no not only belief in God, but being a guy and hunting independently predict opposition to gay marriage.

Some of the resistance to homosexuality and same-sex marriage seems to be a discomfort with guys acting like girls. Men seem to be saying, I want absolutely nothing to do with sissies. They are NOT joining my party.

At Secular Right, I was wondering out loud:

It is possible that gay marriage might delay and decrease the percent of men getting married, and it’s connected to modern fatherhood. I’ll try to find data on this, but I’m the kind of dad who’s always pushing strollers, playing with the kids outside, feeding them, changing diapers, etc. I often feel the glare of macho guys and sense that they’re thinking, “Damn homo.” Modern fatherhood, I suspect, is a problem itself in that it is making marriage look less attractive to very masculine men. Now, if these same guys see me pushing strollers with my married gay buddy, chatting away about how Johnny is saying a new word, I can imagine these macho types saying, that does it–I’m not joining the fag club.

UPDATE: Reader SFG makes a good suggestion to add controls for rurality and political views:

Belief in God -.343
Male -.422
Hunts -.673
Population size .000
Conservative politics -.399

All are significant at the .01 level, except for population size which is not significant. Hunting and gender still predict opposition to gay marriage.


  1. 'Fatherhood is sissy' is probably more accurate--I can't see the one thing that ABSOLUTELY REQUIRES a woman as gay. But it comes out to the same thing in the end.

    I do suspect high-T men are doing the Roissy thing.

    Can't you pick a better indicator of masculinity than hunting? It's heavily correlated with rural living, and while I do believe rural men are manlier than those citified types, you're supposed to remove confounding variables. Is it that rural men (who are more conservative also) dislike gays, or is it that manly men do?

  2. Anonymous10:03 PM

    "Modern fatherhood, I suspect, is a problem itself in that it is making marriage look less attractive to very masculine men."

    Hmmm. Interesting point. There might be several things contributing to this state of affairs.

    From what my older brothers' two sons say, it's modern women who are making marriage look less inviting. The women chase them--I mean chase as in what guys used to do.

    There's no trouble getting sex, but in the process, his sons really do feel the women have cheapened themselves, and don't see them as good mates. Sorry, guess that's going off on another topic.

  3. Anonymous10:33 PM

    "Does level of masculinity correlate with opposition to gay marriage?"

    I would guess that there'd be a fairly strong correlation, but not as strong as that with the traditional religionists, particularly those who are fundamentalists but even including those Catholic males who attend mass on a fairly regular basis.

    The newspapers said the stats on the Hispanic vote on Prop 8 was much more supportive of gay marriage than anyone had expected. When you get a chance, can you look at those numbers?

    It really does surprise me, considering the macho leanings and traditional outlooks of most male Hispanics. Only the very young Hispanics, for example, are having kids out of wedlock, and I have to think they didn't go to the polls. Perhaps the Hispanic voter turnout in the last election was heavily female?

    And, I thought of this in the wake of the election: with California ballot initiatives, the "Yes" and the "No" votes are frequently confused. People who vote regularly are fairly aware of the confusion and have been trained to watch out for the "Yes" means "No" phenomenon.

    I have to think that the high turn-out for Obama also brought in many voters who hadn't the foggiest notion that a "No" vote on Prop 8 was actually in favor of gay marriage rather than against it. I think a heck of a lot of new voters, especially Hispanics who don't speak English well or who were voting for the first time, thought that when they voted "No" they were casting a vote against gay marriage when the opposite was true. That's the only way I can really buy that Hispanic vote tally.

    The black anti-gay marriage vote I understand. Black churches spoke often to their congregations about the issue and the "yes"/"no language.

  4. Anonymous12:36 AM


    I saw a movie about a decade ago in which Bruce Willis played a killer. Willis had to pretend to be gay to steal something secret or another from one character (this wasn't a memorable movie, just typical disposable entertainment). They had a kissing scene.

    It was digusting to watch Willis who is quite masculine, kiss another masculine-looking man. I literally could feel my nose turn up and my mouth squeeze shut as if I felt something extremely distasteful on my toungue. I actually squirmed in my seat, and I heard a few other people in the cinema make an "ewwww" noise. Revulsion at adult male homsexuality in particular is normal.

  5. Anonymous12:44 AM

    As we all know, natural = correct. The naturalist fallacy is not actually a fallacy at all. Everyone should trust his gut instincts in all cases whatsoever.

  6. 1) Hunting is not a good proxy for masculinity across Americans. Hunting is a proxy for a certain ethnic/class group or groups.

    2) What of the studies that show that men with strong anti-gay beliefs show more arousal when viewing naked men than men who are neutral or for gay rights?

    3) What of the many, many real-world examples of some of the loudest homophobes being closet cases?

  7. Anonymous8:03 AM

    Maybe instead of hunting, search for "have you ever been in a fight?", if that is available. That would add in masculine urban residents.

  8. "As we all know, natural = correct. The naturalist fallacy is not actually a fallacy at all."

    You mean like the claim that homosexuality is genetic?

  9. "2) What of the studies that show that men with strong anti-gay beliefs show more arousal when viewing naked men than men who are neutral or for gay rights?

    "3) What of the many, many real-world examples of some of the loudest homophobes being closet cases?"

    Specifics/sources please. I'm sure that someplace, somewhere there are homosexuals--fewer and fewer all the time--who do not want to embrace the orientation and are extra negative, but I've never seen anything showing that it's a common phenomenon. You hear about this sort of thing because it can be used to insult people against homosexuality by implying they are gay. It's a cheap, underhanded tactic.

  10. Anonymous10:59 AM

    The old "if- you are- turned- off -by- men- on- men-you- are -a -homophobe- and- if you -are -a -homophobe-you -must be -a- closet- case" argument is bunk. I am sure that some closet cases are indeed the quickest to claim disgust (as a cover or for other reasons) but to ignore that heteros don't feel the same revulsion is missing the larger point.

    A simple experiment would work to satisfy your curiosity about human nature even if it's not scientific. All you have to do is show that Bruce Willis scene referred to by another poster to a group of your friends in your living room, say 5 straight couples. I remember seeing a clip on the news of George T. of Star Trek fame and his partner after their marriage. Or, if you don't want to use a famous person, use a clip of two guys embracing/kissing on the steps of SF Courthouse after getting married.

    Show the clip; observe facial expressions, body language of the couples. Demographics count, of course. The higher the educational background, the more likely the first words will be chosen very carefully, especially by women.

    In fact, depending on how well the couples know one another, and again depending on certain factors like level of education, the language of the men is likely to be polite as well-- if you can get them to say anything at all.

    However, I'll bet a simple, "How did you feel when you saw them kiss?" is likely to reveal a lot. If you know each other well enough to be honest, the demographics will no longer matter much even with the women.

    They will admit to a "recoil." It's not a matter of judging people as much as it's a matter of reflex. How much of that reflex is instinctive, hard-wired? If we show no immediate reflex isn't it really because we are trying hard not to offend, trying hard to be polite and non-judgemental?

    The gun thing is still pretty much related to a certain type of geographic background.

    How about guys who are don't-miss NFL football watchers? Or NBA watchers? This doesn't rely as much on the rural/urban/suburban factors that guns and hunting do.

  11. Anonymous11:05 AM

    Whoops. Forget the NBA watchers--pro basketball is still a sport mostly watched by those who were reared in or live near an urban area. NFL Football catches a wider, more diverse group of men. However, it can't be the casual watcher.

  12. So what if homosexuality is genetic? That does not mean you get to prescribe whether or not they "control" their homosexuality or rather dress as flamboyantly as the Village People. They have the freedom of autonomy which you don't get to dictate. The Supreme Court reviews these cases under a strict scrutiny standard because those esteemed minds have recognized that one needs a very high standard to unilaterally restrict rights.

    Moreover, your line of reasoning that masculine men will reject marriage when gay men receive the franchise is tortuous. People do manage to rise above their natures for gay couples, as displayed here in this story. Your double-standard is apparent because it is obvious you're not amenable to a genetic predisposition argument in, say, death-penalty cases, but all of a sudden after gay marriage the delicate flowers that are masculine men would necessarily reject their smiling baby's face - this is how it often starts, after all - and decide not to make honest women out of their companions like they've been doing for hundreds of years; all this, from the menace of the unseen same-sex couple.

    Any macho man should be offended that you have such low opinions of their IQ or their humanity. This also why I remarked previously that it was only coincidental that we shared much of our political philosophy; you are unwilling to couch your views in the at least defensible language of Biblical literalism, and instead relentlessly seek to find data to validate your personal bigotry.

  13. Tom Bri9:11 PM

    As an aside, I lived a few years in Latin America. Attitudes towards gays seemed very similar to the US. Guys mostly just casually made fun of them.

    I stumbled into a gay bar there once while out drinking with my buddies. Guys were dancing together, kissing etc. We pretty much ignored them and they us. I got a distinct 'no big deal' impression.

    I don't like being hit upon/harassed, discriminated against at work by gay men. I suppose it isn't much different than the feeling pretty girls can develop towards guys after being hit on more aggressively than they like.

  14. Anonymous7:49 PM

    Specifics/sources please.Can't hurt to ask, but don't hold your breath. If JA ever returns to this thread, he will return with snark, not citations.

  15. Anonymous5:55 PM

    The long term goal of our media and the homosexualists is make every man in America gay the way they mainstreamed girls kissing at parties, and later Ellen. Now these same social degenerates are doing the same thing with boys and men kissing.

    Look at these pages I found by googling "emo boys kissing":

    one two three four

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