Portland State University. Department of Sociology
Date of Award
Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology
1 online resource (viii, 106 pages)
Lesbians -- Identity, Gender identity, Sex role
The central research question of the current study had to do with self - an stereotypically- gendered identities of lesbians. The purpose was to determine the nature and form of gender identity and gender stereotypes among women who self-identify as lesbians, and more specifically, to determine whether or not “gender” means the same to lesbians as it does to heterosexual women. Identity measures were Bern’s (1974) Sex-role Inventory (BSRI) and a butch-femme rating scale. The sample consisted of 65 women who self-identified as lesbian. The lesbians in the current sample did identify more strongly with masculine attributes (Masculinity scale mean = 5.27) than with feminine attributes (Femininity scale means= 5.07). Interestingly, the current sample’s mean Masculinity scores were higher than those of women (heterosexual orientation unknown, and lesbians) in prior research. The majority of butches and femmes identified as masculine and feminine, respectively.
As indicated from prior research subjects, and even more strongly among the lesbians in this study, traits such as “cheerful,” “shy,” “flatterable,” “childlike,” “does not use harsh language,” and “lives children” may no longer be self-descriptions of lesbians or heterosexual women. The lesbians in this study described themselves as assertive and independent and also as nurturant and sensitive. It may be that the terms like “agency” and “emphatic” will in the future be more useful than the dichotomized masculine and feminine labels.
Van Belthowing, Sheilagh, "Lesbian Gender Identities: An Expansion of Bern's Sex-Role Inventory" (2000). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 3041.