Bragging of sexual conquests, suggestive jokes and innuendo, and sexual one-upmanship can all be a part of demonstrating one's manhood, especially for young men eager to exert their masculinity.
But how does masculinity manifest itself among young men who have pledged sexual abstinence before marriage? How do they handle sexual temptation, and what sorts of challenges crop up once they're married?
"Sexual purity and pledging abstinence are most commonly thought of as feminine, something girls and young women promise before marriage," said Sarah Diefendorf, a sociology graduate student at the University of Washington. "But I wanted to look at this from the men's point of view."
Studying a group of 15 young evangelical Christian men, Diefendorf learned that support groups and open discussions about sex with trusted companions were key in helping the men during their pre-marital years. But once married, they faced trouble. Instructed by the church to keep problems "in the dark" after marriage, the men reported feeling like they couldn't discuss sex with their friends and didn't know how to comfortably broach the subject with their wives. The newly wedded men also expressed surprise that sexual temptations continued to taunt them.
Diefendorf will present her findings Aug. 17 at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in San Francisco.
At the start of her study, in 2008, the men were in their late teens and early 20s and part of a support group for young men who had pledged to remain virgins until marriage. The group was affiliated with a nondenominational evangelical megachurch in the southwest United States that had about 14,000 attendees at Sunday services.
Over the course of a year, Diefendorf attended their meetings, and conducted one-on-one interviews and focus-group meetings with the men.
The men talked about sex as both "sacred" a gift from God meant for the marriage bed and "beastly" if it occurs outside
|Contact: Sandra Hines|
University of Washington