Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

The Influence of Gender on Sexual Behaviors and Attitudes

Publication Date

Spring 3-31-2022


Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, College of


Sociology, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Erin Pryor

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


2022 Belmont University Undergraduate Research Symposium

Department of Sociology

The Influence of Gender on Sexual Behaviors and Attitudes

Chloe Bellgardt, Paige Underwood, & Charlotte Maracina

Faculty Advisor: Erin M.Pryor, Ph.D.

Research indicates that one’s sexual experiences are largely shaped by gender (Moloney and Pelehach 2014; Soller and Haynie 2017; Vandenbosch and Eggermont 2013, 2015). While one’s sex is biologically determined, gender is a social construct that we reinforce through the various structures and institutions in place in our society (Lorber 1993; Miller et al. 2016; West and Zimmerman 1987). The social construction of gender places certain expectations on males and females to respectively play the roles of cis-gendered, heteronormative men and women (Lorber 1993; Miller et al. 2016; West and Zimmerman 1987). These two experiences differ vastly, as men and women face their own pressures to conform to the societal standards of masculinity and femininity (Lorber 1993; Miller et al. 2016; West and Zimmerman 1987). Gendered differences in relation to sexual experiences have implications for all members of society. However, it is critical to acknowledge their damaging effects on women’s sexuality in particular (Moloney and Pelehach 2014; Soller and Haynie 2017; West and Zimmerman 1987). Research indicates that there is a highly pervasive stigma surrounding female sexuality, wherein men perceive far greater benefits to sexual intercourse than do women (Capella, Hill, Rapp, and Kees 2010; Soller and Haynie 2017). Women are heavily objectified in our society and this negatively influences the way in which men view women sexually and the way in which women view themselves (Capella et al. 2010; Moloney and Pelehach 2014; Vandenbosch and Eggermont 2013, 2015). Our study seeks to identify the various factors that shape one’s sexual identity and sexual behaviors and explore gendered differences in sex and sexuality. Additionally, the study aims to emphasize the damaging nature of gender expectations in relation to sex. Through the process of Dr. Pryor’s Social Research Methods Course, our group analyzed relevant literature, surveyed an Introduction to Sociology class, conducted secondary data analysis and content analysis, and interviewed a heterosexual, female undergraduate Belmont student to more fully understand gendered differences in relation to sex and to identify the factors that contribute to the shaping of one’s sexual behaviors.

Keywords: Gender; Gender Norms; Sexuality; Sex Education; Heteronormativity; Socialization

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