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J Sex Res. 2012;49(2-3):168-83. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2011.653699.

Eroticizing inequality in the United States: the consequences and determinants of traditional gender role adherence in intimate relationships.

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Department of Psychology, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Piscataway, NJ 08854–8040, USA.


This article reviews the research on traditional gender-role adherence and sexuality for heterosexual men and women. Specifically, the consequences and predictors of following traditional gender roles of female submissiveness and male dominance in sexual relationships is examined. Despite evidence that men and women's sexual roles are becoming more egalitarian over time, empirical evidence suggests that the traditional sexual roles continue to dominate heterosexual relations. This article explores whether the sexual context is one in which both men and women feel particularly compelled to engage in gender stereotypic behavior, and why. In addition, this article reports on research that finds that men and women have automatic associations between sexuality and power that reinforce their gender stereotypic behavior in sexual contexts. The negative effects of traditional gender-role adherence for women's sexual problems and satisfaction is demonstrated. This article concludes that traditional sexual scripts are harmful for both women's and men's ability to engage in authentic, rewarding sexual expression, although the female submissive role may be particularly debilitating. Future directions of research are suggested, including interventions to reduce women's adherence to the sexually submissive female script.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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