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Feminists are sexy, study finds

Oct. 15, 2007
Special to World Science  

Pop­u­lar stereo­types of fem­i­nists as un­at­trac­tive and sex­u­ally un­ap­peal­ing are wrong—in fact fem­i­nism may im­prove ro­man­tic rela­t­ion­ships, a new stu­dy sug­gests.

The find­ings, by Lau­rie Rud­man and Ju­lie Phe­lan of Rut­gers Un­ivers­ity in Pis­cat­away, N.J., ap­pear this week in the re­search jour­nal Sex Roles.

Rud­man and Phe­lan sur­veyed 242 Amer­i­can col­lege stu­dents and 289 old­er adults. They ex­am­ined peo­ple’s per­cep­tion of their own fem­i­nism and its link to rela­t­ion­ship health, meas­ured by a com­bina­t­ion of over­all rela­t­ion­ship qual­ity, agree­ment about gen­der equa­l­ity, rela­t­ion­ship sta­bil­ity and sex­u­al sat­is­fac­tion.

Fem­i­nism was linked to health­i­er heterosex­u­al rela­t­ion­ships for wom­en, they found, while men with fem­i­nist part­ners re­ported more sta­ble rela­t­ion­ships and great­er sex­u­al sat­is­fac­tion.

The find­ings provided no evidence for the no­tion that fe­males who cham­pion wo­men’s rights are like­li­er to be sin­gle or les­bi­an than oth­ers, Rud­man and Phe­lan added. In­deed, they found that fem­i­nist wom­en were more likely to be in a heterosex­u­al ro­man­tic rela­t­ion­ship than non-fem­i­nist wom­en.


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Popular stereotypes of feminists as unattractive and sexually unappealing are wrong—and feminism may actually improve romantic relationships, according to a new study. The findings, by Laurie Rudman and Julie Phelan of Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., appears this week in the research journal Sex Roles. Rudman and Phelan surveyed 242 American college students and 289 older adults. They examined people’s perception of their own feminism and its link to relationship health, measured by a combination of overall relationship quality, agreement about gender equality, relationship stability and sexual satisfaction. Feminism was linked to healthier heterosexual relationships for women, they found, while men with feminist partners reported more stable relationships and greater sexual satisfaction. The findings gave no support to the notion that feminist women are likelier to be single or lesbian than others, Rudman and Phelan added: in fact, feminist women were more likely to be in a heterosexual romantic relationship than non-feminist women.