"Sexual Animals": Persistent Sexual Stereotypes at the Intersections of Racism, Sexism, and Sexual Prejudice
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This dissertation explored hypersexual stereotypes (HS) and their application to members of multiple marginalized groups in the U.S. HS are any characterization—including those related to physical traits, sexual practices, or sexual desires—of a person, based on group membership, that positions their sexuality as more abundant than a perceived norm. Five studies documented the present-day existence, application, and explanation of HS across sixteen diverse target groups: straight and queer White, Black, Latinx, and Asian men and women. With extensive historical evidence, I collected and compared current articulations of HS (Study 1). With findings from Study 1 (N = 157) suggesting HS are still extant and accessible towards members of all target groups, Studies 2-3 then explored the variance in endorsement of HS across target race, gender, sexual orientation, and/or their interactions. Participants in Studies 2 (N = 254) and 3 (N = 360) viewed mock dating profiles that varied by race, gender, and sexual orientation, then selected hypersexual traits and rated agreement with hypersexual statements as the just-viewed gendered, sexually-oriented racial target. Across straight targets, there were very few significant differences except that women targets were more likely than men targets to be ascribed hypersexual traits. Within queer targets, however, additional differences emerged, indicating that Black lesbians were indeed hypersexualized to a significantly greater degree than White lesbians. Studies 4 and 5 tested variability due to target race, gender, and/or sexual orientation by asking participants to select causal factors (race, gender, sociality, sexual orientation, biology, morality) of hypersexuality. Gendered explanations emerged as the most consistently endorsed “causes” of hypersexuality. Racial explanations were more frequently used in hyposexual conditions than in hypersexual conditions for both straight (Study 4: N = 627) and queer targets (Study 5: N = 576). Together, these findings provide evidence for the persistence of HS as sometimes overgeneralizing, sometimes differentiating members of multiple marginalized groups along the intersections of race, gender, and sexual orientation. These studies represent the first of necessary steps towards understanding HS as a key sociocultural and psychological phenomenon, particularly as they may be deployed for the maintenance of existing systems of oppression.
Haugen, Andrea Denise (2018). "Sexual Animals": Persistent Sexual Stereotypes at the Intersections of Racism, Sexism, and Sexual Prejudice. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from