Monday, June 13, 2011

Does conforming to traditional gender roles lead to better or worse sex?


Or, worse.

(Both abstracts are from Barking up the Wrong Tree.)

An excerpt from the second article (here's the whole thing as a PDF; I've omitted citations and added paragraph breaks here):

We propose that men and women who invest in gender norms are more likely to base self-esteem on others’ approval and thus feel less sexual autonomy and consequently experience less sexual satisfaction. . . .

Research on gender roles typically focuses on how adherence to gender norms is problematic for women’s mental health, academic performance, and subjective sexual experiences. Restrictive gender norms, which undermine women’s power, competence, and agency, help account for women’s higher rates of depression, poorer standardized scores, and higher discontent with sex.

However, the argument that gender roles are more problematic for women than for men contrasts with evidence that investment in gender norms is a risk factor for both men and women. We argue that although gender roles per se may be more problematic for women than for men, investment in gender norms (i.e., feeling pressure to conform to gender norms) is equally problematic for women and men.

With regard to gender roles, the expectation that women should be subservient and cater to their partners affords women less autonomy in their intimate relationships with men. In addition however, both men and women who invest in gender norms may be vulnerable to diminished autonomy because they feel pressure to conform and base their self-esteem on what other people think of them. . . .

We argue that both men and women who invest in gender conformity feel as though they need to meet these ideals to gain others’ approval. Although preliminary evidence suggests that those who invest in gender normativity feel better about themselves when they are engaged in gender-normative activities, our results suggest that elevated affect and self-esteem could be a short-term boost related to feeling as though one has others’ approval.

Previous research suggests that boosts and drops in self-esteem related to succeeding and failing at contingencies of self-worth are related to increases in symptoms of depression over time. . . .

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to the question of whether women and men should conform to gender norms. On one hand, research suggests that women and men may gain others’ approval or at the very least avoid others’ disapproval or negative evaluations if they follow gender norms. On the other hand, men and women who feel compelled to follow norms may sacrifice their own needs and desires, which can prevent the development of satisfying and authentic intimate relationships with others.


Anonymous said...

And if a woman demands sex in her marriage or relationship, her husband or male partner can even give her a nasty attitude or call her a slut if she sleeps with other men. There are partners and spouses that believe in restrictive gender norms for both men and women out there. In other words, going beyond gender norms a bit or so, either lead women to be verbally and/or physically abused by men who accuses them of being unladylike, or butch and for men to get cuckolded (a man that gets cheated on) with a more manly man who can be pretty domineering, played with, and/or verbally abused by women they're with. Gender roles are just a way to prevent women and men from being homosexual and make them look attractive to the opposite sex and they tend to stem from the perfectionism of other others as well, including spouses and partners.