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April 1978

Feminists' Heterosexual Relationships: More on Dominance and Mating

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Human Behavior, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1978;35(4):435-438. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1978.01770280045005

• The hypothesis that female dominance inhibits mating whereas male dominance facilitates it, and seemingly incongruous findings suggesting that dominant women take more initiative and are more interested than others in sex, are explored through comparison of feminist and control subjects, ie, women who were expected, a priori, to be located at widely separated points on a theoretical dominance continuum. Principal findings are the following: (1) sexual initiative and satisfaction appear to be greater among feminists than others, (2) there is no difference between groups in frequency of coitus in a present (or most recent) sexual relationship, but (3) there is a tendency for feminists to have had less stable first marriages than control subjects. These findings do permit more than one interpretation: the greater sexual satisfaction combined with marital instability among feminists may reflect their energy and willingness to change an unsatisfactory condition, or, in addition, the more general proposition that personal power is associated with positive sexual response in both men and women, so that there is minimal complementarity along this dimension. Both cultural and biologic factors appear to contribute to the relative instability of feminists' marriages.

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