Males and Females, Are We Really That Socially Different? An Exploration of Same-Sex Friendship Dynamics

Shirley Yao, Sabrina Meyn, Viktoria Hovhannisyan

The friendship dynamics that males and females form with the same-sex differ in how they bond homosocially: either vertical or horizontal. Homosocial bonds are those that are non-romantic social bonds between those of the same-sex. Historically, these two types of homosocialities are used to regulate how people perform gender. Vertical homosociality, also known as hierarchical homosociality, is relationally tied to males, and horizontal homosociality with females. Vertical is centered on building power socially, whilst horizontal captures non-profitable aspects of social bonds. Research has shown that heterosexual males tend to be hypersensitive to their sexuality being misinterpreted in homosocial contexts, whilst females are presumed not to be. This has been previously attributed to female homosocial bonds being defined as desexualized relations and their intimate relations as being friendly or as a sexual display for the heterosexual male gaze. However, in the literature there is room to explore female’s friendship and social dynamics and obtain updated information on male homosocial friendship dynamics by comparison. Using a comprehensive questionnaire that aimed to gather data on participant’s homosocial friendship dynamics, we found that both females and males exercise homosociality similarly.

*Disclaimer: Gender and sex are not interchangeable terms, as gender refers to something people do or perform socially, and sex is what you are biologically. The participants in this study identified their sex as either being male or female.

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