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Heterosexual masculinity in Finnish online dating ads


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Presentation given @ Emerging ideas in masculinity research conference, Reykjavik 6th June 2014

Presentation given @ Emerging ideas in masculinity research conference, Reykjavik 6th June 2014

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  • 1. HETEROSEXUAL MASCULINITY IN FINNISH ONLINE DATING ADS A.M. Holappa Emerging ideas in masculinity research – Masculinity studies in the North. 4th - 6th June 2014, at the University of Iceland, Reykjavik.
  • 2. BACKROUND INFORMATION Phd student, digital culture, University of Turku Working title: The heterosexual relationship schema in Finnish online dating ads LOOKING FOR: shared cultural knowledge concerning romantic male-female relationships in online dating ads in dating services site
  • 3. RESEARCH QUESTION TODAY How Finnish men represent themselves? What kind of variety of the ideal heterosexual male partner representations could be found in online dating service?
  • 4. THE RESEARCH DATA The research data contained a) 920 semi-structured online dating ad texts, collected in 2012 and b) 600 online dating ad profile pictures collected in January 2014 Both men (60%) and women (40%)
  • 5. THE RESEARCH DATA Data was limited to dating advertisements where heterosexual True Love was sought -> heterosexuality is a choice made by the company seeker  man looking for a woman  woman looking for a man
  • 6. • Are there differences between men and women? Yes there are. Women use more adjectives to describe their looks, men use exact measures • Are there similarities between men and women? Yes there are. Amount of adjectives used • Are there differences among men and among women? Yes there are. Some women seek safety, some equality and some man who is capable of letting the woman take the lead. • Are the similarities or differences masculine or feminine features? Harder question: what are the definitions of masculine and feminine?
  • 7. MASCULINITY Wikipedia: Masculinity is a set of qualities, characteristics or roles generally considered typical of, or appropriate to, a man. There exist several masculinities in a culture at the same time. Nowadays we all agree that masculinity and femininity are culturally specific and historically conditioned. (Buchbinder 2013)
  • 8. STEREOTYPES Stereotypes are everyday thinking and then hardly useful in academic research, many think. But they are useful if the research is concentrated in everyman´s own constructions of their own masculinity. Stereotypes being well known are at least one influence in those constructions. Usually the masculine features are seen opposite to women´s.
  • 9. Stereotypes of (Western) masculinity Physical strength Power (successful/wealthy) Control of emotions Calm, stable and able to defense him/his community Excellent heterosexual lover Independent in every way Stereotypes of Finnish male Not (too) emotional (unless drunk) Having sisu/guts/being brave Tough/(possible) violent (Sipilä 1994; Lahti 1994, Jokinen 2000)
  • 10. FACT BEHIND STEREOTYPES Evolutionary perspective: the emphasis is on physical and genetic fitness, because passing on good genetic material is the main goal Men want women to be young and healthy for reproductive purposes (the looks) Women are interested in men capable of parental investment (wealth) David Buss 1994
  • 11. RESEARCH : TEXT Textual data in open text field was broke down in pieces. Expressions or key words, specially adjectives most repeated were categorized by thematic choices. If looking the male expressions against the masculine stereotypes: how identical are men´s descriptions with those?
  • 12. TEXT RESEARCH RESULTS: EXPRESSIONS 117 different adjectives including minor variations 85 adjectives 90 adjectives + 35 descriptions for physical looks + 6 different categories for hobbies + descriptive expressions for profession, working life, age etc  altogether about 200 expressions
  • 13. TOP 5 MALE DESCRIPTIONS OF THEMSELVES 0.00 % 10.00 % 20.00 % 30.00 % Positive (Iloinen, positiivinen) 8,5% Honest (Rehellinen) 10% Nice, pleasant (Kiva, mukava) 12% Having sense of humor (Huumorintajuinen) 15% Sporty (Liikunnallinen, urheilullinen) 26%
  • 14. RESULTS: THE ADJECTIVES There were some adjectives 1.only referring to men with the word itself being not gendered, 2. adjectives not referring to women but only to men with more traditional tone of masculinity, and 3. adjectives that were never referring to male but only to female.
  • 15. NOT GENDERED ADJECTIVES ONLY REFERRING TO MEN Healthy (terve) Decent (kunnollinen) Polite / Well-mannered / Gentleman (kohtelias, hyväkäytöksinen, herrasmiesmäinen) Safe (turvallinen) Charismatic (karismaattinen) Experienced (kokenut) Able to commit (sitoutuva) Soft (pehmo)
  • 16. (MASCULINE) ADJECTIVES REFERRING ONLY TO MEN Wealthy but in the other hand: you can be anything it does not matter what you do I hope working isn´t everything in your life Muscular / athletic Handsome
  • 17. ADJECTIVES REFERRING ONLY TO FEMALE Flexible (joustava) Gentle (lempeä) Creative (luova) Perky (pirtsakka) Modest (vaatimaton)
  • 18. NOT GENDERED ADJECTIVES REFERRING TO BOTH FEMALES AND MALES Young/youngish Sporty Social Open Like to have conversations Relaxed / Easy-going
  • 19. RESULTS AND A CONCLUSION There were similarities with common stereotypes: active, muscular and active man was wanted (physical strenght) Some women wanted wealthy man (power, success, independent) These gender differences also goes with the evolutionary point of view.
  • 20. RESULTS AND A CONCLUSION Stereotypes NOT found in the research data: Control of emotions, emotional toughness, calmness BUT the opposite: open, social, talkative New (unexpected) attention given to downshifting ideology and soft values.
  • 21. RESULTS AND A CONCLUSION Also being excellent heterosexual lover did NOT come up but the reason might be the “romantic context” When talking about romantic relationship, there is often more emphasis on emotion rather than on physical intimacy and that shows in the vocabulary.
  • 22. FROM HEGEMONIC MASCULINITY TO DIVERSITY OF MEN The cultural values of life are present in online dating ads. The variety of the ideal heterosexual male partner representations is found in online dating service.
  • 23. REFERENCES Buss, David 1994: The evolution of desire: Strategies of Human Mating. Buchbinder, David 2013: Studying men and masculinities. London: Routledge Jokinen, Arto 2000: Panssaroitu maskuliinisuus. Mies, väkivalta ja kulttuuri. Tampere :Tampere University Press. Lahti, Martti 1994: Kotia kohti. Vammaisuus ja maskuliinisuus elokuvassa Tapaus Henry. Teoksessa: Miestä rakennetaan, maskuliinisuuksia puretaan. Tampere: Vastapaino, 207-226. Sipilä, Jorma 1994: Miestutkimus – säröjä hegemonisessa maskuliinisuudessa. In Miestä rakennetaan, maskuliinisuuksia puretaan. Ed. Jorma Sipilä & Arto Tiihonen. Tampere: Vastapaino, p. 17-36.