It’s Not a Joke: Masculinity Ideology and Homophobic Language

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In this exploratory study, we examined the influence of traditional masculinity ideology on adults’ perceptions of a homophobic slur among youth. Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 vignettes describing an incident in which a 5, 10, or 15-year-old boy overhears the word “fag.” Participants then answered questions regarding the acceptability of the word, likelihood of use, and likelihood of intervention by teachers and peers. They also completed the Male Role Norms Inventory–Short Form (MRNI-SF; Levant, Hall, & Rankin, 2013). Age of boys in the scenario affected participants’ perception of likelihood to happen and sexual orientation of participant affected intervention expectations. Novel to the study, results indicated that MRNI-SF scores significantly influenced the acceptability of the use of the word “fag,” as well as whether participants thought the teacher and peers should intervene. These findings strengthen literature suggesting a connection between endorsement of traditional masculinity ideology and homophobia.

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