Power Sharing in Lesbian Partnerships Scale

Power Sharing in Lesbian Partnerships‌

JEAN M. LYNCH,Miami University

MARY ELLEN REILLYUniversity of Rhode Island

The Power Sharing in Lesbian Partnerships Scale was developed to determine egalitarianism in lesbian partnerships as a function of similarity in social status variables. Specifically, it investigates whether couples who are similar in age, income, occupation, education, and financial assets tend to characterize their relationships as equal in a variety of areas. Previous researchers have typically investigated one partner’s perception of power in the relationship (e.g., Blood & Wolfe, 1960; Peplau et al., 1982). Our instrument is designed to assess similarities and differences in each partner’s assets so that it can be determined whether differences in these demographic variables are related to social status. Additionally, our instrument allows a determination of whether type of couple (i.e., equal, unequal but in agreement about who has more power, and couples with differing perceptions about power sharing) is related to social status variables.

Description

The power sharing instrument consists of demographic items, such as respondent’s age as of the last birthday, income, educational attainment, occupation and occupational classification, and several items which assess the respondent’s assets. A number of items also investigate financial sharing by partners, such as whether the couple are cosignatories on saving and checking accounts, and whether the partner is a sole or partial beneficiary. Respondents also indicate how financial contributions in the household are divided, such as whether the respondent or her partner pays, or whether equal or proportional payments are made for a variety of household needs.

The remainder of the questionnaire measures egalitarianism in a variety of areas. Specifically, these items refer to responsibility for household chores and financial decision making. Three items query respondents regarding sexual equality in terms of initiation, decisions about the frequency of sex, and sexual satisfaction. As above, responses to the items indicate whether respondents are equal or whether the partner or respondent has more control in the relationship.

Finally, single items ask respondents about a number of issues related to equality, for example, self-disclosure, degree of commitment, and yielding in disagreements. Potential responses indicate whether the respondent or her partner or both tend to dominate in these areas. Two items, ideal and actual power (i.e., who has more say and who should have more say) are included from Peplau, Cochran, Rook, and Padesky’s (1978) instrument.

Reliability and Validity

No reliablity data are available. The instrument evidences face and content validity, covering the areas most significant to power in relationships. Results from studies using the instrument (e.g., Lynch & Reilly, 1986; Peplau et al., 1978; Peplan et al., 1982; Reilly & Lynch, 1990) indicate considerable consistency across diverse samples (college and adult populations in relationships of at least 1 year’s duration). For both populations, respondents professed a belief in the importance of power sharing, and there was evidence of a great deal of egalitarianism in lesbian relationships. When inequity was found, power sharing arrangements did not seem to be explained by social status differences.

Address correspondence to Jean M. Lynch, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056; e-mail: [email protected]

Power Sharing in Lesbian Relationships

This questionnaire is the main source of data for a study of lesbian relationships. It should only take a few minutes to complete.

Your replies will be completely anonymous since there are no identifying marks on the questionnaire. Please do not sign the questionnaire. It is important that each partner fills out her questionnaire separately and places it in one of the blank envelopes. Both should be returned to me together in the stamped, addressed envelope provided. Since I am studying couples, this is essential. Thank you very much for your time and cooperation.

    1. What is your age as of your last birthday?       years.

    2. What is your income (as reported on all W-2 forms)?             

    3. Which of the following best describes your highest level of educational attainment? ( ) Completed grammar school

      ( ) Completed high school

      ( ) Some college or technical school ( ) Completed college

      ( ) Master’s degree

      ( ) Ph.D., M.D., Ed.D., J.D.L.

      ( ) Other, please describe                                                

    4. What is your occupation?                                           

    5. Which of the following would you use to describe your occupation? ( ) Homemaker

      ( ) Professional

      ( ) Manager or Administrator ( ) Sales worker

      ( ) Clerical

      ( ) Craftsworker ( ) Farm worker

      ( ) Machinist or Transportation Worker ( ) Laborer

      ( ) Service worker

      ( ) Private household worker ( ) Other

    6. What is the current worth of your personal financial assets? (stocks, bonds, property, cars, savings and checking accounts). Please estimate:

      ( ) $0

      ( ) $1,001–$9,999

      ( ) $10,000–$19,999 ( ) $20,000–$34,999 ( ) $35,000–$49,999 ( ) $50,000–$74,999

      ( ) $75,000–$100,000 or more

    7. Which of the following are currently held by you? Check all that apply. A ( ) Savings accounts in my name only

      1. ( ) Checking accounts in my name only

      2. ( ) Investments in my name only

      3. ( ) Joint savings accounts

      4. ( ) Joint checking accounts

      5. ( ) Investments in my name and someone else’s

    8. If you checked A, B, or C in Question 7 above, are the account(s) or investment(s) arranged so that your partner could manage your personal finances in the event that you were unable to do so?

      ( ) Yes

      ( ) No

    9. If you checked C, E, or F in Question 7 above, is the other name on the account(s) or investment(s):

      Partner Relative Some other person, not related

      Checking ( ) ( ) ( )

      Savings ( ) ( ) ( )

      Investments ( ) ( ) ( )

    10. If you have a will, is your partner named as: ( ) A beneficiary of all of your estate

      ( ) A beneficiary of part of your estate ( ) Not mentioned in your will

      ( ) I do not have a will

    11. If you have life insurance, who is your beneficiary? ( ) Partner

      ( ) Relative

      ( ) Some other person, not related ( ) Both partner and relative

      ( ) I do not have any insurance

    12. If you are currently renting, and have a lease, whose name is it in? ( ) My name

      ( ) My partner’s name ( ) Both of our names

      ( ) Someone else’s name ( ) No lease

    13. If you own your own home, whose name is on the mortgage title or title to the house? ( ) My name

      ( ) My partner’s name

      ( ) My partner and I are tenants in common ( ) My partner and I are joint tenants

    14. If you currently own a car, who paid (or is paying) for it? ( ) I

      ( ) My partner

      ( ) Both own it equally

      ( ) Each has her own car which she owns

      ( ) Other, please explain                                       

    15. In our current residence, household furnishings are: ( ) Predominantly mine

      ( ) Predominantly hers

      ( ) Each person owns approximately half of the furnishings ( ) Ours jointly

    16. In your household, how are contributions to the following arranged:

      I pay

      My partner

      pays

      We split bills based

      on our ability to pay

      We split

      bills equally

      Included in

      the rent

      Does

      not apply

      A. Mortgage payments

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      B. Property taxes

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      C. Rent payments

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      D. Insurance (house or apartment)

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      E. Heating bills

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      F. Electric bills

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      G. Telephone bills

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      H. Groceries

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      I. Household repairs

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

    17. Reviewing the items in Question 16 above, how would you describe your overall contributions to these household expenses? ( ) I contribute more

      ( ) My partner contributes more

      ( ) We contribute according to our ability to pay ( ) We contribute equally

    18. How long have you and your partner been living together?   years

    19. When you and your partner first began living together, whose residence did you use? ( ) Mine

      ( ) Partner’s

      ( ) A new residence chosen by us

    20. Our current residence is:

      ( ) Mine, where I lived before meeting my partner ( ) Hers, where she lived before meeting me

      ( ) Ours, since we met

    21. Do you have children? ( ) Yes

      ( ) No (Please skip to Question 25)

    22. How many children do you have?

              Girls

              Boys

    23. Where are the children presently living? Please describe                                    

    24. Who is financially responsible for the support of the children? ( ) I am primarily responsible for their support

      ( ) Father is primarily responsible for their support ( ) Father and I support them equally

      ( ) Father, partner and I support them ( ) Partner and I support them equally

      ( ) Partner is primarily responsible for their support

      ( ) Other. Please describe                                                                                  

    25. For the following items, please indicate who has the major responsibility for the following chores:

      Always I

      Usually I

      Partner and I

      exactly equal

      Usually

      partner

      Always

      partner

      Does not apply or

      done by hired person

      A. Cooking

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      B. Laundry

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      C. Dishwashing and cleaning up

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      D. Household repairs

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      E. Dusting and vacuuming

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      F. Housecleaning (windows, floors, cleaning

      drapes)

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      G. Child care

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      H. Payment of bills

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      I. Bathroom cleaning

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      J. Outdoor maintenance (e.g., washing windows,

      cleaning gutters, painting)

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      K. Lawn care

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      L. Gardening (flowers and vegetables)

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      M. Car repairs

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      N. Decorating

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

    26. Who do you think is more involved in your relationship—your partner or you?

              Partner is much more involved

              Partner is somewhat more involved

              We are involved to exactly the same degree

              I am somewhat more involved

              I am much more involved

    27. Who do you think has revealed more about herself to the other—your partner or you?

              Partner has revealed much more

              Partner has revealed somewhat more

              We have revealed exactly the same amount

              I have revealed somewhat more

              I have revealed much more

    28. Who do you think has more of a say about what you and your partner do together—your partner or you?

              Partner has much more say

              Partner has somewhat more say

              We have exactly the same amount of say

              I have somewhat more say

              I have much more say

    29. Who do you think is more satisfied in the relationship—your partner or you?

              Partner is much more satisfied

              Partner is somewhat more satisfied

              We are exactly equally satisfied

              I am somewhat more satisfied

              I am much more satisfied

    30. Who do you think is more committed to the relationship—your partner or you?

              Partner is much more committed

              Partner is somewhat more committed

              We are committed to exactly the same degree

              I am somewhat more committed

              I am much more committed

    31. Who do you think should have more of a say about what you and your partner do together—your partner or you?

              Partner should have much more say

              Partner should have somewhat more say

              We should have exactly equal say

              I should have somewhat more say

              I should have much more say

    32. If my partner and I disagreed on political issues or candidates,

              Partner would definitely change her opinion

              Partner would probably change her opinion

              Neither of us would change our opinion

              I would probably change my opinion

              I would definitely change my opinion

    33. When my partner and I argue,

              Partner always gives in first

              Partner usually gives in first

              Sometimes she gives in first, sometimes I give in first

              I usually give in first

              I always give in first

    34. If my partner expressed dislike for a friend of mine,

              I would definitely reevaluate my opinion of the friend

              I would probably reevaluate my opinion of my friend

              Neither of us would change our opinion

              I would probably not reevaluate my opinion of the friend

              I would definitely not reevaluate my opinion of the friend

    35. If your partner were offered an attractive job opportunity in another city, how likely is it that you would move with your partner?

              I would definitely move with my partner

              I would probably move with my partner

              Uncertain if I would move or not

              I would probably not move with my partner

              I would definitely not move with my partner

    36. If you were offered an attractive job opportunity in another city, how likely is it that your partner would move with you?

              My partner would definitely move with me

              My partner would probably move with me

              Uncertain if my partner would move with me

              My partner would probably not move with me

              My partner would definitely not move with me

    37. Who do you think takes more of the initiative in your sexual relationship?

              My partner takes much more of the initiative

              My partner takes somewhat more of the initiative

              We both initiate sex to exactly the same degree

              I take somewhat more of the initiative

              I take much more of the initiative

    38. Who do you think makes more of the decisions about the frequency of sex?

              My partner makes much more of the decisions

              My partner makes somewhat more of the decisions

              We make mutual decisions

              I make somewhat more of the decisions

              I make much more of the decisions

    39. Who do you think is more sexually satisfied in your relationship?

              My partner is much more satisfied

              My partner is somewhat more satisfied

              We are both satisfied to exactly the same degree

              I am somewhat more satisfied

              I am much more satisfied

    40. For the following, please check the appropriate responses:

      Who usually makes the final decision about:

      Partner always

      Partner more than I

      Partner and I exactly equal

      Usually I

      Always I

      Does not apply; has never been an issue

      A. What car to get

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      B. Whether or not to buy life insurance

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      C. How much money to spend per week on food

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      D. Where to go on vacation

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      E. What restaurants to frequent

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      F. How to spend leisure time

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      G. Which friends to spend time with

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      H. Where to go on holidays

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      I. What house or apartment to take

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

      ( )

    41. Do any of the following know that you are a lesbian?

      Your mother    Your father    Brothers    Sisters    Other relatives    Neighbors    Friends    Colleagues at work         

    42. How many friends are aware of your relationship?

      All    Most        Half    A few    None         

    43. Do you and your partner participate in any lesbian organizations?

              Yes

              No

    44. How often do you see your family?

Weekly    Monthly    Several times a year    Never         

 

References

Blood, R. O., & Wolfe, D. M. (1960). Husbands and wives. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.

Lynch, J., & Reilly, M. E. (1985–1986). Role relationships: Lesbian per- spectives. Journal of Homosexuality, 12(2), 53–69.

Peplau, L., Cochran, S., Rook, K., & Padesky, C. (1978). Loving women: Attachment and autonomy in lesbian relationships. Journal of Social Issues, 34(3), 7–27.

Peplau, L., Padesky, C., & Hamilton, M. (1982). Satisfaction in lesbian relationships. Journal of Social Homosexuality, 8(2), 23–35.

Reilly, M. E., & Lynch, J.M. (1990). Power-sharing in lesbian partner- ships. Journal of Homosexuality, 19(3), 1–30.