PsycCRITIQUES Blog: If the Vast Majority of Men Are Not Really Promiscuous, Should We Devote Time to Challenging the Stereotype?

PsycCRITIQUES Blog: If the Vast Majority of Men Are Not Really Promiscuous, Should We Devote Time to Challenging the Stereotype?

If the Vast Majority of Men Are Not Really Promiscuous, Should We Devote Time to Challenging the Stereotype?

APAGary R. Brooks reviewed Andrew P. Smiler’s book Challenging Casanova: Beyond the Stereotype of the Promiscuous Young Male. Brooks states,

Drawing from his own research and extensive federal government research, Smiler contends that there is an enormous misunderstanding of young men’s sexual attitudes and behavior. He writes,

The Casanova Complex describes only a minority of men… Casanova-like promiscuity drops to no more than 5 percent of the population … Casanova-like promiscuity is in fact not the norm and does not reflect the way most boys or young men really feel. (p. 30)

At this point, one can be relieved by Smiler’s findings, but nevertheless somewhat confused about his mission. That is, how much effort should be expended to challenge a belief system that is rejected by 95 percent of young men? Stereotypes can certainly be harmful even when they are inaccurate reflections of actual behavior of a group because they can create tension in those persons not meeting the stereotype. But should this misperception of young men be a matter of significant concern because most men do not have promiscuous sexual relationships?

Is Brooks correct that if only 5 percent of males fit this negative stereotype, then maybe this issue is moot and we should not spend a lot of time challenging this “Casanova Complex” belief system? Is the other part of the issue that others (older folks, parents, women) may believe this negative stereotype and this may influence their interactions with young men, including the 95 percent who do not fit the stereotype? (Brooks also argues that Smiler should “broaden the lens” of his analysis; see the review for his discussion of this point.)