Modern male contraceptive methods like the ‘male pill’ or Vasalgel could be a welcome addition to the current offer of contraceptive methods, because they offer men more reproductive autonomy. Little is known about factors that play a role in how men and women feel about modern male contraceptive methods (MAC). In the current study, the focus was on the extent to which young people’s current contraceptive satisfaction, traditional gender role ideas concerning contraception and open partner communication concerning contraception were related to the willingness to use MAC and the confidence in the consistent use of MAC. Data were collected among participants between 18 and 25 years old (n=161, 22% male) using an online survey. As hypothesized, traditional gender role ideas concerning contraception significantly predicted both the willingness to use MAC and the confidence in consistent MAC-use. This was not the case for current contraceptive satisfaction. Open communication with the partner concerning was related to confidence in consistent MAC-use, but not to the willingness to use MAC. When MAC are introduced to the market, mostly highly educated adolescents with non-traditional gender role ideas concerning contraception might be interested in using them. Challenging these gender role ideas could be a way to encourage willingness to try MAC.
The sexual double standard (SDS) is a pattern of divergent expectations concerning sexuality that dictates sexual restraint for women and girls, whereas it dictates sexual prowess for men and boys. Research shows that endorsing the SDS is related to negative effects for sexual and mental health, which are particularly strong for women. This paper offers an overview of the findings of four studies, part of the dissertation of Emmerink (2017), that explore SDS endorsement among heterosexual youth in the Netherlands. Study 1 focused on the development of a new questionnaire for the measurement of the SDS, assessing opinions on appropriate sexual behaviour of young men and women (“Scale for the Assessment of Sexual Standards among Youth” (SASSY)). The instrument demonstrated good psychometric qualities. Study 2 compared SASSY questionnaire scores (which measures conscious attitudes) with those on an indirect measurement (which measures attitudes of which people are unaware). While boys showed attitudes in line with the SDS on both the SASSY questionnaire and the indirect measure, girls showed an attitude in line with the SDS on the SASSY questionnaire, but a converse attitude (associating their own sex with sexual activity, instead of passivity) on the indirect measure. The SDS therefore seems to be working at different cognitive levels. Study 3 examined the relationship between SDS endorsement (the SASSY questionnaire) and demographic and psychosexual correlates. Men and religious youth showed higher SDS endorsement. This was also the case for men and women that attached more importance to masculinity/femininity. Only among men was a stronger sense of entitlement to sexual pleasure provided by a partner associated with stronger SDS endorsement. In Study 4 the relationship between SDS endorsement and sexual emotions and cognitions was addressed. For women only, a significant relationship emerged between stronger SDS endorsement and the experience of more negative emotions, mediated through decreased sexual autonomy. The results of the four studies point towards the SDS not being an extremely dominant attitude among Dutch youth (mean scores were generally low), but that some groups endorse it to a greater extent than others. Continued attention towards the possible effects of the SDS on young people’s sexuality seems warranted. Moreover, the results of the studies serve as pointers for future research, which could focus on the influence processes that underlie personal sexual attitudes in line with the SDS and on the personal lived experiences of sexuality and sexual autonomy. This last factor seems particularly relevant to study among girls and women.
There has been an increasing amount of attention in the literature for sexualization in the media. Sexualization occurs when “a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics; a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy; a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person”. Recently, scholars have started to pay attention to how sexualization may occur in social media, where adolescents are said to self-sexualize through posting sexy pictures of themselves (sexy self-presentation). Based on an overview of recent research on adolescents’ social media use and online self-presentation, it can be concluded that some aspects of sexualization, such as self-objectification and the increased emphasis on physical and sexual attractiveness, also occur in social media. However, we still lack knowledge on other aspects of online (self-)sexualization, such as the occurrence of sexual objectification and whether sexual content is inappropriately imposed upon adolescents in social media. Moreover, although there is initial evidence that the use of social media decreases self-esteem and sexual satisfaction, we still lack knowledge on whether the same consequences that are said to occur for sexualization in traditional media also occur for self-sexualization in social media. Suggestions for future research on (self-)sexualization in social media are given, which also pertain to the unique aspects of social media (i.e., peer norms and self-perception) compared to traditional media platforms.