Feminism boosts sexual satisfaction for both men and women, a new study suggests.
Busting stereotypes that peg feminists as men-haters, a new study shows that having a feminist partner is linked with healthier, more romantic heterosexual relationships.
The study, published online this week in the journal Sex Roles, relied on surveys of both college students and older adults, finding that women with egalitarian attitudes do find mates and men do find them attractive. In fact, results reveal they are having a good time, maybe a better time than the non-feminists.
Both men and women are prone to holding negative views of feminists, the authors say. Along with the sexually unattractive stereotype, some women also view feminism as a movement for victims, or for women who aren't competent enough to achieve success on their own merit, according to the Rutgers University researchers.
Psychologists Laurie Rudman and Julie Phelan carried out a laboratory survey of 242 Rutgers undergraduates and conducted an online survey of 289 older adults who had an average age of 26 and typically had been in their current relationship about four years.
Older adults have more life experience "and thus may be more likely to show an incompatibility between feminism and romantic relationships," Rudman and Phelan write. While younger females likely grew up with the attitude that "women can have it all," the researchers note older women may have come of age in the era following U.S. women's suffrage (1919) or during the women's movement that emerged in the 1960s.
The researchers looked at people's perception of their own feminism, their partner's feminism and whether they had positive views of feminists and career women. Other survey measures included overall relationship quality, agreement about gender equality, relationship stability and sexual satisfaction.
For example, relationship quality was measured with questions such as: How often do you and your partner laugh together? And how often do you and your partner quarrel? For stability measures, participants answered how often they considered terminating the relationship, as well as how often they thought their romantic relationship had a good future.
Among the findings:
- College-age women who reported having feminist male partners also reported higher quality relationships that were more stable than couples involving non-feminist male partners.
- College guys who were themselves feminists and had feminist partners reported more equality in their relationships.
- Older women who perceived their male partners as feminists reported greater relationship health and sexual satisfaction.
- Older men with feminist partners said they had more stable relationships and greater sexual satisfaction.
Overall, feminism and romance do go hand in hand, the scientists say.
While they aren't sure how feminism works to enhance relationship health, the researchers have some ideas. Feminist men might be more supportive of their female partner's ambitions than are traditionalists. Men with feminist partners may enjoy the extra breadwinner to share the economic burden of maintaining a household.
- Video: Sex and the Senses
- The Sex Quiz: Myths, Taboos and Bizarre Facts
- Top 10 Aphrodisiacs
Live Science newsletter
Stay up to date on the latest science news by signing up for our Essentials newsletter.
Jeanna served as editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.