Professor wins award for sexuality research

Northern Kentucky University communication professor Jimmie Manning won the 2010 Early Professional Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) for his research on sex and relationships.

He received his Ph.D. in Communications Studies from the University of Kansas and is now doing work in sexuality research, teaching and service.

The award is the highest praise the society offers to professors before occupancy. The winner needs to have a commitment to the studies of sexuality and sexology and be involved with the SSSS association.

Manning’s work was submitted for award nomination by Dr. Charlene Muehlenhard, a senior scholar in the SSSS organization.

“Jimmie Manning is doing outstanding sexuality-related research. He is truly a leader in the field and one of the future stars in the field of sexuality,” Muehlenhard said.

“He was very impressive as a graduate student here at the University of Kansas. Last year at the 2009 annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, of all the talks I heard, the two that I like best were both by Jimmie Manning. His presentation was energetic and entertaining,” Manning’s primary research was focused on social control and social support in relationships.

“I found couples that had been together for five years, 15 years and 25 years and (I) broke down their relationships,” Manning said.

In order to do this, Manning broke down, piece by piece, the level of attractiveness a couple felt for one another after certain sexual encounters. For instance, a couple is more or less attracted to their mate after they first met, their first date, the first time they kissed, had oral sex, had sexual intercourse and after meeting their significant other’s parents for the first time.

“If you try to find a relationship that’s the same as yours, you probably won’t. I needed to get below the surface and find out what these relationships are all about,” Manning said.
He said that most people look at their relationship in a Dr. Phil kind of way — where people in the relationship have ultimate control over their relationship, and as long as the two can work out an argument, then everything is okay. In his research, Manning discovered that this is not always true. There are usually outside factors besides the two in the relationship that decides whether or not the couple will survive and be happy.

An example of these factors that Manning found is an instance where a husband stays at home with the kids while the wife goes to work; because of the role reversal, the husband may start to feel emasculated because he is not providing for the family. Family members also play a strong role. If the family does not like the significant other and disapproves, then it can cause stress on the couple and the relationship. Friends are another big outside factor. If a group of friends have a weekly guy’s night out and he stops going after getting into a serious relationship, his friends may start ragging on him and calling him “whipped.” In turn, he will take it out on his girlfriend and go to guy’s night just to spite her.

All of Manning’s research can help a couple look at their own relationship and so that they can see how social control and social support can make or break their relationship.

“A person can look and say, ‘This is how my relationship is similar, and this is how it’s different. Now I can make a decision,’” Manning said.

Story by Derick Bischoff