Free Sexual Attitudes And Behaviors In Nigerian And American Cultures Essay Sample

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Culture, Women, America, Gender, United States, Men, Attitude, Belief

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2021/02/22

The roles that men and women play are viewed and affected differently from culture to culture; however, there are universal attitudes toward the two genders as well. From preferences for mating partners to the way that sexual behavior is exhibited, culture is very influential. Comparing two countries with vastly different cultures demonstrates the impact that culture can have on sexual attitudes and behaviors. Nigeria and America differ in many ways such as economic development and healthcare and educational opportunities, and they present an effective comparison of sexual views and conduct. According to Best and Williams (2001), culture affects the perceptual differences of both genders. Women tend to have more egalitarian views than men in general, but cultures still differ in how egalitarian their gender views are overall (Best, & William, 2001). Nigeria holds more traditional sexual views and behaviors, and America holds more modern sexual views and behaviors. Best and Williams (2001) described traditional sexual attitudes as favoring men as more essential and having the right to be in charge of women; whereas, modern attitudes see both sexes as equally significant with equal rights to personal independence. The sexual attitudes and behaviors regarding mating preferences in America and Nigeria are similar in some ways yet very different as well, and these attitudes are influenced and displayed through each country’s culture.
Buss (1989) performed a comprehensive study of the mate preferences of people in several different cultures. He measured mate preferences with constructs such as financial prospects, attractiveness, chastity, and age differences (Buss, 1989). Examining these results for Nigeria and the continental U. S. showed surprising similarities. For example, in both countries women valued financial prospects more than men, and men valued attractiveness more than women. However, Buss (1989) also found differences between the two countries. There was little difference in the value that American men and women placed chastity in their mate, but Nigerian men valued chastity much more than Nigerian women. Also, men in both countries preferred mates that were younger than them, but Nigerian men preferred a significantly larger age differences than almost all other countries in the study. Women in Nigeria also preferred more of an age difference between themselves and the man they would marry than American women. Buss (1989) pointed out that a substantial amount of people in Nigeria practiced polygyny, and the men usually married multiple wives at an older age. These empirical results are suggestive of how culture can affect sexual views and actions while still coinciding with certain universal gender stereotypes.
Regardless of the cultural, economic, and social differences between Nigeria and America, women in both countries placed higher value on financial prospects and men placed higher value on attractiveness. However, the difference between polygyny and monogamy is a major cultural difference that leads to different preferences and attitudes toward the opposite sex. The women in both countries placed almost the exact same value on chastity in their mate, but the Nigerian men placed far more value on this than American men (Buss, 1989). According to Buss and Barnes (1986), monogamy leads people in Western countries like America to practice “assertive mating” which means that people choose their mate based on specific characteristics that they value in a mate (p. 560). Choosing only one mate leads Americans to look for a large range of characteristics in their mate, although different individuals rate these characteristics differently. Examples of these characteristics are age, religion, values, interests, attitudes, and physical aspects (Buss, & Barnes, 1986). According to Best and Williams (2001), individualistic cultures like America emphasize romance and individual happiness; whereas, collectivist cultures emphasize caring relationships across the family network.
Polygyny, on the other hand, means that there is variation in the number of wives that men have. This marriage practice would arguably lead men to value specific characteristics in their wives without as much concern for compatibility and personal fulfillment. This practice also explains why chastity has such little value for Nigerian women. However, women placed a small amount of value on the chastity which means they may prefer to be a man’s first wife if possible, or be involved in a monogamous marriage. Preference and reality may not coincide as much for Nigerian women as it does for American women, or Nigerian men, due to cultural differences. According to Ntoimo and Isiugo-Abanihe (2013), Nigerian women who remain single past the traditional marrying age are considered wrong and unsuitable, and they are assumed to be personally at fault for still being single. This type of pressure and attitude toward women is very different from American culture in which single women may be considered independent, driven, or career-oriented rather than flawed. George, Ukpong, and Imah (2014) argued that marriage in Nigeria is “one of the most important social customs which gives an individual respect and status” (p. 9). Such a marriage driven culture does not leave as much room for the assertive discrimination that Americans take part in.
Another cultural difference is that Nigerian marriage is considered a union of two families as much as two individuals, and marriages are often arranged by the families which places additional pressure on the couple to stay married (George, Ukpong, & Imah, 2014). These cultural practices and ideologies may advocate the gender bias in Nigeria because women are passed from their family to their husband, and while men are expected to work women are expected to fulfill traditional female roles. This leaves women dependent on their husbands, and without many options or chances to better themselves. According to Para-Mallam (2010), most girls and women in Nigeria do not have any educational opportunities, and even if they did it would not diminish gender equality very effectively. This is because of the powerful influence of ubiquitous cultural gender bias that result from religious beliefs, and what Para-Mallam (2010) argued are “sexist interpretations of biblical texts” (p. 459). Religion and tradition are very strong cultural influences; however, America also has cultural influences that affect attitudes and behaviors toward both genders even if they are not as explicit.
American children learn sexual attitudes and behaviors inadvertently through the differential toys there are given to play with and the television they see. Aubrey and Harrison (2004) investigated the impact of gender stereotypes on television on children’s gender typical behavior. They found that television gender stereotypes affected boys’ values for stereotypical behavior more than girls, and that only girls who conformed to stereotypical female behavior were attracted to the female characters on television (Aubrey, & Harrison, 2004). This shows how gender stereotypes are enhanced and sustained by the media that American children are exposed to. American children also experience gender stereotyping in school from teachers who exhibit gender bias without being aware of it. For example, teachers choose boys to answer questions more than girls and allow boys more time to answer than girls (Sadker, & Zittleman, 2005). Boys are also encouraged to persevere and work out difficult problems on their own, but girls are immediately given help when they ask for it. Boys are also more likely to be given active parts in classroom activities while girls are more likely to be given supportive roles (Sadker, & Zittleman, 2005).
Sadker and Zittleman (2005) claimed that it is common and acceptable to divide teams by gender in school or community activities, but it would never be acceptable to segregate teams by any other demographic. They said that gender competition serves no purpose and promotes the differences and opposition between genders at a young age (Sadker, & Zittleman, 2005). The difference in attitudes and behaviors toward the different genders may not be as overwhelming in America as they are in Nigeria, but most American children know that an easy bake oven is a girl’s toy and a model airplane kit is a boy’s toy. Best and Williams (2001) stated that American children apply gender stereotypes to toys, behaviors, and jobs by the time they are three or four years old.
Learning what is acceptable for each gender is reinforced by the cultural traditions and practices in both America and Nigeria, and this influences the attitude held toward each gender and how they behave and are treated. Women in Nigeria are expected to hold traditional domestic roles that are culturally considered to be suitable to their nature (Para-Mallam, 2010). Another example of how sexual attitudes in Nigeria are displayed is the expectations of working women who may work just as much as their husbands, but still must complete all household responsibilities on their own including childrearing (George, Ukpong, & Imah, 2014). American culture holds a more egalitarian view, and many couples share household and childrearing responsibilities. However, in America there are still many gender specific occupations, and men are often promoted to leadership roles more often than women due to prevailing sexual attitudes that covertly affect behavior and perceptions.
Nigerian and American cultures influence the sexual views and judgments in each country; whether by religion and tradition in Nigeria, or media and teacher bias in America. These attitudes are shown through the cultural expectations of each gender and the way that each gender is portrayed by society. These cultural attitudes affect the marriage practices in each country, but do not completely overcome universal gender stereotypes associating men with financial support and women with good looks. The role each gender plays in these two different cultures varies from traditional to modern, and this shows the powerful effect that cultural attitudes have on behavior.


Best, D. L., & Williams, J. E. (2001). Gender and culture. In David Matsumoto (Ed.), Handbook of Culture and Psychology (pp. 195-219). New York, NY: Oxford University Press
Buss, D. M. (1989). Sex differences in human mate preferences: Evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures. Behavioral and brain sciences, 12(1), 1-14.
Buss, D. M., & Barnes, M. (1986). Preferences in human mate selection. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50(3), 559-570.
George, I. N., Ukpong, D. E., & Imah, E. E. (2014). Cultural diversity of marriage sustainability in Nigeria: Strengths and challenges. Sociology and Anthropology, 2(1), 7-14.
Ntoimo, L. F., & Isiugo-Abanihe, U. (2013). Patriarchy and singlehood among women in Lagos, Nigeria. Journal of Family Issues, 20(10), 1-29. doi: 10.1177/0192513X13511249
Para-Mallam, F. J. (2010). Promoting gender equality in the context of Nigerian cultural and religious expression: Beyond increasing female access to education. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 40(4), 459-477. doi:10.1080/03057925.2010.490370
Sadker, D., & Zittleman, K. (2005). Gender bias lives, for both sexes. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 70(8), 27-30.

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