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Gayzing Women's Bodies

Gayzing Women’s Bodies: Criticisms of Labia Depend on the Gender and Sexual Orientation of Perceivers - Flora Oswald, Cory L. Pedersen, & Jes L. Matsick


The heterosexual male gaze is often credited with producing bodily anxieties among women, yet empirical and popular cultural evidence suggest gay men have especially negative views toward women’s bodies, particularly women’s genitalia. Across two studies (N = 6,129; Mage = 27.58; 2,047 women, 4,082 men) we conducted secondary analyses of existing datasets to test the hypotheses that gay men would evaluate labia more negatively than heterosexual men, and that lesbian women would evaluate labia more positively than heterosexual women. We conducted fixed-effects mini meta-analyses to estimate summary effect sizes for perceptions of normalcy and fit with societal ideals; we additionally assessed an outcome of disgust in Study 2. We found support for our hypotheses: For normalcy and societal ideal, we found small summary effects such that gay men evaluated labia more negatively than heterosexual men, and medium summary effects such that lesbian women evaluated labia more positively than heterosexual women. Gay men also rated labia as more disgusting than any other demographic group, and lesbian women rated the stimuli as less disgusting than heterosexual women, supporting our hypotheses. The current findings suggest a pressing need to acknowledge and incorporate gay men’s perceptions of women’s bodies into literatures on misogyny, objectification, and body image more generally.

Article published in the Journal of Sex Research,

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