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Jealousy and partner preference among butch and femme lesbians

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The present study examined the differences in partner preference and jealousy among lesbians who identified themselves as butch or femme. We hypothesized that butch and femme lesbians would behave analogously to male and female heterosexual persons, with butches more attracted to a partner's physical appearance and more jealous of a partner's sexual behaviour and femmes more attracted to a partner's financial resources and more jealous of a partner's emotional behaviour. Eighty-four lesbian women attending a Gay Pride celebration ranked the attributes, that would make them most jealous of potential competitors in whom their partner might be interested, and they rated their willingness to go out with hypothetical others who varied in physical attractiveness, income, and masculine or feminine personality. Results indicated that butches and femmes did not differ in sexual versus emotional jealousy. However, femmes were more influenced by the financial resources of potential partners than were butches. Butches and femmes also differed as to which attributes of a competitor made them the most jealous. Femmes were more jealous of a physically attractive competitor, and butches were more jealous of a wealthy competitor. While the labels butch and femme have often been characterized as social constructions modelled after heterosexual sex roles and applied to lesbians by outside observers, the results of the present study provide further evidence that they are more than that. The present findings, consistent with other research, suggest that a complex interaction of socialization and prenatal development underlie lesbian sex role identification.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2001

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