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Women's stereotypes of masculinity across the different contexts of work, family, friendship and romantic partnerships.

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The construction of hegemonic masculinity cannot be understood outside its relationship to emphasized femininity. Women’s negotiation of masculinity is dependent on their own feminine identity narratives (emphasized or liberated) in a corresponding context. Replicating and extending previous work, this study is aimed at exploring women’s construction of masculinity in the contexts of work, family, friendship and romantic relationships. However, where previous studies explored this in the South African context, the present study is aimed at determining if women’s construction of masculinity followed similar patterns for women from different countries across the world. The UNDP inequality index was used to estimate the developmental status (low, medium and high) of the country to explore whether participants from countries with different levels of development showed differing constructions of masculinity across the different contexts. The results supported Brittain (2010, 2011), in that this sample advocated for traditional hegemonic masculine traits in the context of family, romance and work, while constructing non-hegemonic ‘nice guy’ masculinities in the context of friendship. It was found that women from high and medium equality countries incorporated a few acceptable non-hegemonic and majority hegemonic masculine traits in their constructions of the ideal man across work, romance and family, while predominantly choosing non-hegemonic traits for friendship. In Low equality countries, women advocated predominantly for traditional hegemonic masculine traits across all four contexts. It seems that women’s negotiation of masculinity (traditionally hegemonic or non-hegemonic) is interdependent on their own identity narrative and their ability to construct and negotiate their own femininity (emphasized and liberated) in the same contexts. This study demonstrates that (1) despite the level of equality women have gained in society, they continue to advocate for and perpetuate hegemonic masculine ideals (2) that male/masculine and female/feminine identities are intrinsically bound together; and the production of female identities valued by women requires the simultaneous production of complementary masculinities.


Thesis (M.Soc.Sc.)--University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2013.


Masculinity., Sex role., Women., Theses--Psychology.