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For men, honor trumps sex

August 26, 2008 |  3:55 pm

In a large international, stereotype-busting study, men reported that being honorable, self-reliant and respected is more important to their idea of masculinity than being sexually active or attractive to women.

Man2 The study in this month's Journal of Sexual Medicine involved 27,839 men age 20 to 75 who were interviewed about their attitudes on what it means to be a man. The men were from eight countries: the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico and Brazil.

"Regardless of age or nationality, the men more frequently ranked good health, harmonious family life and good relationships with their wife or partner as more important to their quality of life than material, self-fulfilling or purely sexual concerns," says the press release from Indiana University.

The results are in keeping with a study earlier this year in the Journal of Adolescence in which researchers interviewed 105 10th-grade boys and found that 80% of the teens, whose average age was 16, dated because they "really like the person." In other words, according to a New York Times article, they were motivated by love, not sex.

"Many meanings, positive and negative, are attached to the term, 'masculinity,' " Julia Heiman, director of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and an author of the study of adult men said in the release. "To ask a large sample of men what comprises their own sense of masculinity is very useful for both the media and for research. These results suggest we should pay attention and ask rather than presume we know."

--Susan Brink

Photo: Bruce Bellas from "Roy Hilligen, Mr.America 1951" from the book "Strong Man, Vintage Photos of a Masculine Icon" by Robert Mainardi. Published by Council Oak Books.