GENDER ROLES IN THE BEDROOM

Emily Harris (University of Queensland) about her research on benevolent sexism and orgasm frequency in women

Orgasms are great. AmIright? But it’s a lot more difficult for a woman to orgasm compared to a man – on average. Yes – we have different machinery – men have penises and women have vaginas. This is a biological fact. But there is more to the story than only biology.

 

Some women orgasm every time they have sex. Heck, some women orgasm from a nipple-stroke! And on the other hand, there are lots of women who find it much harder to orgasm. This has to be about something more than biology – these women have, for the most part, the same biological machinery. There is likely a psychological component to it. That is what my research is all about. 

My key research question is: Does our understanding of gender impact our sexual experience? We all have assumptions about the ways in which men and women should act in the world (hereafter referred to as ‘gender role beliefs’) – women should be adored, men should be adoring; women should be pretty, men should be muscular. These are ‘traditional gender role beliefs’ (not to mention highly heteronormative). 

 

I argue that these ideas may impact our sexual experience. If we have socially conservative gender role beliefs, perhaps this constrains how we feel about sex, and how much we can enjoy it.

 

In my research, I investigate the impact of heterosexual women’s traditional gender role beliefs on their personal orgasm frequency.

 

Traditional Gender Roles and Benevolent Sexism

Traditionally, women are regarded as passive, and men as dominant. This idea is central to a type of sexism known as ‘benevolent sexism’ -  a set of attitudes that undermine women’s competence by romanticizing female passivity. Benevolent sexism appears complimentary towards women, (e.g. ‘women have a quality of purity that few men possess’), and also affords women special treatment from men (e.g. 'women should be cherished and protected by men'). However, these statements not only suggest that women should be looked after by men, but also that women need to be looked after by men.

Benevolent sexism is particularly pernicious. Its positive tone means that both men and women are likely to endorse these attitudes at similar levels. This is a problem, not only because it is discriminatory, but also because it has been shown to have a number of negative effects for women. For example, women who are exposed to benevolent sexism are more likely to de-emphasize their task-related competence and academic-related competence, while emphasizing their relational warmth.

 

Benevolent Sexism and Orgasm Frequency

We proposed that women who endorse benevolent sexism would experience fewer orgasms. This relationship might exist for two reasons.

First, women who endorse benevolently sexist attitudes might be more likely to think that men only care about their own orgasm.

We base this assumption on the idea that, if women are expected to be more pure, moral, and more culturally refined than men, that makes men less pure, moral, and refined. One conclusion that could be derived from this might be that men are driven by their sexual urges; that they are more carnal than women and more driven by the “pleasure principle”. So, when it comes to orgasms, men are naturally driven to get theirs, and a woman’s orgasm is merely an afterthought. Hence, women’s benevolently sexist beliefs might lead them to conclude that men are selfish in bed.

 

Second, we suggest that if a woman thinks men are selfish, they are less likely to specifically ask their partner for sexual pleasure. This link is rather intuitive: If men don’t care, why bother?

 

Finally then, women’s decreased willingness to ask for sexual pleasure might lead to fewer orgasms. Again, this makes sense – women who don’t communicate with their partner about what gets them off, are going to miss out on some orgasms.

 

To sum up, we suggest that women higher in benevolent sexism think that men only care about their own orgasm, and that this would lead women to silence their sexual requests, which would lead to fewer orgasms.

 

In two studies we surveyed heterosexual women in relationships about the degree to which they endorsed benevolent sexism, their beliefs about men and sex, their sexual communication, and of course, how many orgasms they have per week, on average.

 

What did we find?

We found an indirect relationship. While benevolent sexism did not directly predict women’s orgasm frequency – and this is important! – we did find that women high in benevolent sexism are more likely to think that men are sexually selfish. As predicted, women who believed that men were sexually selfish were less likely to ask their partner for pleasure, and as a result, experienced fewer orgasms. However, benevolent sexism, on its own, did not predict women’s orgasm frequency.

 

This suggests that benevolent sexism isn’t all bad when it comes to orgasms. Rather, it suggests that while it has the described negative effects - it may also have some positive effects. For example, women high in benevolent sexism may have more masculine partners. Having a more masculine, dominant partner has been shown to increase women’s orgasm frequency. So, while women high in benevolent sexism are endorsing attitudes that dampen their orgasm frequency, they may also have a masculine partner, which works to increase the number of orgasms they have.

 

Conclusions

For readers looking to increase their orgasm frequency, the clearest message our data conveys is: talk to your partner about what you like and don’t like during sex. This is not a new message, but it is powerful.

 

For my readers who are also interested in the more nuanced bottom line for feminists in the bedroom – for now, I haven’t got a simple message. What my studies do suggest is that restrictive gender attitudes can impact our sex lives, if indirectly so. Research on this topic is in its infancy, and I look forward to keeping you updated on future findings so that we can better understand how our beliefs about men and women may enhance or constrain our sexual experience.

 

~Please reference: Harris, E. (2016, December 21) Gender roles in the bedroom. Retrieved from www.antoniasudkaemper.com

References

 Barreto, M., Ellemers, N., Piebinga, L., & Moya, M. (2010). How nice of us and how dumb of me: The effect of exposure to benevolent sexism on women’s task and relational self-descriptions. Sex Roles, 62, 532–544. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9699-0.

Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1996). The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: Differ- entiating hostile and benevolent sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 491–512. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.70.3.491. 

Harris, E. A., Hornsey, M. J., & Barlow, F. K. (2016). On the link between benevolent sexism and orgasm frequency in heterosexual women. Archives of sexual behavior, 45(8), 1923-1931.

Puts, D. A., Welling, L. L., Burriss, R. P., & Dawood, K. (2012). Men’s mas- culinity and attractiveness predict their female partners’ reported orgasm frequency and timing. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33, 1–9. doi:10. 1016/j.evolhumbehav.2011.03.003. 

 

 

Emily Harris

emily.harris@uqconnect.edu.au

https://www.psy.uq.edu.au/directory/index.html?id=2664

Write a comment

Comments: 14
  • #1

    Darla Lones (Tuesday, 07 February 2017 21:58)


    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I don't know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you aren't already ;) Cheers!

  • #2

    Everett Wiles (Tuesday, 07 February 2017 22:55)


    This piece of writing is in fact a good one it assists new net users, who are wishing in favor of blogging.

  • #3

    Roger Gruner (Wednesday, 08 February 2017 02:39)


    fantastic issues altogether, you just gained a new reader. What could you recommend about your publish that you just made a few days in the past? Any sure?

  • #4

    Audie Benham (Wednesday, 08 February 2017 18:27)


    What's Going down i'm new to this, I stumbled upon this I've found It absolutely helpful and it has aided me out loads. I'm hoping to contribute & help different customers like its helped me. Good job.

  • #5

    Denyse Olsen (Wednesday, 08 February 2017 21:18)


    My family members every time say that I am wasting my time here at net, but I know I am getting familiarity daily by reading thes good content.

  • #6

    Rebbecca Titcomb (Wednesday, 08 February 2017 21:47)


    I'm not sure exactly why but this blog is loading extremely slow for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my end? I'll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

  • #7

    Taneka Bissonette (Thursday, 09 February 2017 01:31)


    Hey! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site? I'm getting sick and tired of Wordpress because I've had issues with hackers and I'm looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  • #8

    Heide Chestnut (Thursday, 09 February 2017 02:52)


    It is not my first time to pay a visit this web page, i am browsing this site dailly and take nice information from here daily.

  • #9

    Ok Marland (Thursday, 09 February 2017 08:33)


    Hey there! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with Search Engine Optimization? I'm trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I'm not seeing very good results. If you know of any please share. Thank you!

  • #10

    Jenise Linsley (Thursday, 09 February 2017 12:19)


    Keep on working, great job!

  • #11

    Callie Hon (Thursday, 09 February 2017 18:48)


    Hey there I am so excited I found your web site, I really found you by mistake, while I was researching on Digg for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say thank you for a tremendous post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design), I don�t have time to go through it all at the moment but I have saved it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the awesome jo.

  • #12

    Quiana Stuhr (Thursday, 09 February 2017 20:46)


    Have you ever thought about writing an e-book or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog based on the same subjects you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my subscribers would value your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me an e-mail.

  • #13

    Timmy Ek (Thursday, 09 February 2017 22:31)


    It's appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I've learn this publish and if I may I wish to suggest you few attention-grabbing things or suggestions. Perhaps you could write subsequent articles referring to this article. I wish to learn more things about it!

  • #14

    Hyo Severino (Thursday, 09 February 2017 23:32)


    Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! By the way, how could we communicate?