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Sex Role Stereotyping: 10 Examples of Sex Stereotypes

May 10, 2024

Sex role and gender stereotyping is something that has always been present. You could argue that it’s a lot better today vs 30 years ago, but I’d say we’ve still got a long way to go, wouldn’t you agree? 

Sometimes, it’s okay to generalize. It often guides us in the decisions we make or allows us to openly accept a change in our thought process. 

Stereotyping is a little different and has a negative connotation. Whilst it’s often harmless, it’s not necessary and can cause us to develop false assumptions and preconceived notions

Harmful stereotypes in the bedroom are those that represent gender inequality or anything that might offend somebody. Stereotyping in any sexual relationship will ultimately cause problems, because again, you’re assuming a sex role stereotype that may not be true.

Let’s refute some of the most common sex stereotypes in the bedroom and hopefully help to eradicate traditional gender stereotypes.  

Key Takeaways

  • You should have shared expectations in the bedroom, regardless of gender.
  • Stereotyping in the bedroom can be sexist.
  • You should take the time to learn about your partner in the bedroom before beginning to assume based on their gender.   

Sex Role Stereotyping: Definition

According to The Oxford Dictionary, a sex role can be defined as “the role or behavior learned by a person as appropriate to their sex, determined by the prevailing cultural norms.” To then stereotype based on a person’s sex role, means to assume a characteristic or behavior based on a person’s sex/gender. 

This very much links to Judith Butler’s gender theory. In 1998, Butler published said theory in The Theatre Journal; ‘Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory’. 

Her theory is that gender roles are no more than a “stylized repetition of acts.” She argues that gender is a “constructed identity” based on an ideal set by society over time. These stereotypes fall under what has been set as an ideal. The perception of gender, even masculinity and femininity, has been predetermined over time. 

If it is social construct that defines gender, how can we then accept people as individuals rather than presuming characteristics and behavior patterns based on this constructed gender?

What I’m trying to say is that we should be open to individuality and assume nothing until we know more about a person’s character. 

An example of this in society would be that men should pay for the bill. Whilst it’s lovely to be treated occasionally, it’s also lovely to get the opportunity to treat your partner. Many factors should be considered when it comes to who pays or whether the bill is split; this isn’t something that one can assume just because of a person’s gender. 

A problem that can often arise is when a person doesn’t fit into what has been predetermined as a gender norm, they often have to deal with stigma and judgment. This is then where we should consider traditional gender stereotypes. 

In the modern day, you can generally expect the younger generation to be more open-minded when it comes to those who don’t follow social norms. Of course, this depends entirely on a person’s upbringing or social values. 

You could argue that we now have an opportunity to encourage individualism and allow people to be expressive, whether they fit into ‘social norms’ or not. 

This is why it’s super important to acknowledge sex role stereotypes, so that we can eventually eradicate the stigma surrounding sex roles and gender identity. 

A History of Gender Roles

Couple in the bedroom

The change in gender roles throughout history can be viewed as a positive, as it shows that we have the capability to evolve and become more understanding of a person's individuality regardless of gender. 

Throughout different cultures and tribes in history, men have been viewed as the providers of the family whilst women have been seen as caregivers; some feminist theories even link the idea of womanhood to motherhood. 

In modern day society, there remains the stereotype that men should be strong, both physically and emotionally, and that women should be feminine and nurturing. Sex role stereotypes are present throughout many aspects of social behavior, but I specifically want to refute some gender stereotypes in the bedroom. 

There remains a trace of this idea amongst society that sex is led by a man, who choses a woman based on sexual desire and objectivity. In relationships, sex role stereotypes are still present and don’t allow both partners to be fully expressive in their individual needs and desires

I want to acknowledge that this isn’t always the case, but it’s important to highlight existing stereotypes in order to refute and eradicate them. 

10 Examples of Gender Stereotypes in the Bedroom 

There are thousands of stereotypes, some less harmful than others. Upon researching, I’ve narrowed it down to the 10 most prominent gender stereotypes in the bedroom and hope to shine some light on why we should avoid stereotyping when it comes to gender roles.

1. Men have higher sex drives than women 

Men typically have higher sex drives than women, but this doesn’t apply to all men. Some women have incredibly high sex drives whilst some men struggle with libido. 

Assuming that your male partner is always going to have a higher sex drive than you is ultimately going to cause problems, especially if you have a mismatched libido as a couple. 

This stereotype can put pressure on a man, especially if he struggles with low libido, and could make him feel as though something isn’t right when this is most likely not the case. There are certain tips to try to help with libido, but it’s completely normal to not want sex all the time. 

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This can be a hard stereotype to ignore, especially if you have experience with an ex with a high sex drive, it may feel a little confusing to then have a partner with a lower sex drive. However, this is why it’s so important to avoid stereotyping gender. Everybody is different; not one person’s sex drive will be the exact same as someone else's. 

2. A man should be dominant in the bedroom

Dominant man kissing a woman

Throughout history, through sex role stereotypes men have always been assumed to be the more dominant sex. 

I can only presume that this comes from the idea that men throughout history have typically been the ones to go to work and take care of the family. But, this is the 21st century, isn’t it? So I’m not too sure why this idea is still so present. 

Some men are dominating, some men aren’t. 

Some women are dominating, some women aren’t. 

Based on every woman I’ve ever met, I can see no clear difference in dominance between men and women. 

3. A straight man shouldn’t enjoy anal 

This one really does baffle me. 

Some men don’t feel comfortable exploring with anal play, and that’s totally fine. Nobody should ever feel pressured to try something that they don’t want to. 

But it should be acknowledged that all men have the potential to enjoy pleasure through anal play. The male G-spot, otherwise known as the prostate, is in the male rectum. 

Likewise, no one should ever be made to feel embarrassed for experimenting sexually, especially when it should be widely accepted rather than shamed.  

4. Men have more sexual partners than women

Growing up, I was always told that men only want one thing. 

I then realized that this isn’t necessarily true. Both men and women love sex. Some people have higher libidos, and some have higher sexual partners, but all in all sex is enjoyed by a majority of people.

According to SexualAlpha, “studies suggest that women might be more sexually active, but men tend to have more partners.”

However, that doesn’t mean that all men have lots of sexual partners. Some men might have had hundreds of sexual partners in their lifetime, but the same goes for women. You really can’t stereotype here based on gender. 

One study might tell you that men have more sexual partners but another may show that women do, this isn’t factual and shouldn’t ever cause you to assume based on gender. 

5. Men discourage the use of protection

Condoms on the bed with a couple in the background

For me personally, I don’t love the feeling of condoms. As far as I’m aware, this is something that is shared by many, and not just men.

There is often the stereotype that men discourage the use of protection when having sex. Whilst this may be true in some cases, it certainly isn’t something to stereotype against all men and it can even be quite offensive. 

If you ask your sexual partner to wear a condom and they try to convince you otherwise, this then becomes borderline nonconsensual and is naturally highly problematic. 

6. A woman should be submissive in the bedroom

Again, this links back to this false idea that all men want to be dominant in the bedroom. On the back of this stereotype, it’s assumed that women like to be submissive, and dominated by their male partner. 

A lot of couples have a mix of power dynamics, meaning that they will flex between who’s dominant and who’s submissive. 

Some couples consist of female partners who prefer to be dominant. I mean, look at how popular BDSM is, it’s completely normal that some women like to take control in the bedroom

7. Women have attachment issues 

There is a huge misconception that all women have attachment issues. Sure, some women do, I certainly have had some issues with attachment in my time, but that certainly can’t be a stereotype for all women as it’s just not true. 

Some people think that it’s always the men who are careless and don’t want to settle down, but some women love sexual freedom and don’t fall for every guy that shows them attention. Actually, I’d go as far to say that most women don’t. 

8. Women are emotionally sensitive 

It is widely believed that due to a difference in hormones, women are more emotionally sensitive than men; both in the bedroom and socially. 

A study conducted by The University of Michigan sought to discover whether there is a true difference in the emotional sensitivity between men and women:

“They found little-to-no differences between the men and the various groups of women, suggesting that men’s emotions fluctuate to the same extent as women’s do (although likely for different reasons).”

Someone’s emotional state can’t be determined by gender, it really does depend on the individual and should never be assumed.

9. Women expect commitment 

Some women do want commitment from a man, some.

But, some women enjoy emotional and sexual freedom and are simply looking to have a good time. 

It confuses me why this is such a prominent stereotype, as you can usually tell during the early stages if someone is looking for a serious relationship and it can in no way be linked to a person’s gender.

10. Women are initially attracted to success 

Similar to the stereotype that men choose their partner’s based on sexual desire, the stereotype exists that women look for success in a partner. 

This stereotype comes from the idea that men are the providers for the family, and this isn’t always the case. Although in most industries there is still a problem with a pay gap between men and women, it’s been a long time since women haven’t been financially independent. 

Some women will look for a guy who’s successful, as will some men, it’s not a bad quality to seek out. But there’s this wide misconception that women are gold diggers and it’s just not true.  

What Can I Do to Help?

So, how can we fully eradicate gender stereotypes and allow people their basic right that is individuality without judgment? 

It’s very important to be aware of your surroundings, be aware of sexism and inequality and speak out if something is unfair or based on judgment. 

Start the conversation. People often don’t realize how powerful their voices can be. Taking 5 minutes to talk about gender stereotyping, and informing one person makes a difference. People are still going to stereotype, but it’s about taking baby steps until most people are on the same page. 

FAQs

What is the sex-role stereotyping scale?

According to The University of California San Francisco, “The Gender Role Beliefs Scale (GRBS) is a brief, psychometrically sound, unidimensional, self-report measure of gender role ideology defined as prescriptive beliefs about appropriate behavior for men and women.”

How do gender stereotypes influence?

Gender stereotypes can have a huge influence, they can impact behavior, mentality, how someone may perceive themselves, and can even impact self-esteem.

Gender roles are ever-evolving, and it can be difficult for those who experience judgment and stigma against not following gender norms. 

What are the negative effects of gender roles?

The negative effects of gender roles can cause those who don’t follow social norms to feel as though they don’t have a place in society. 

Gender stereotypes have a huge effect on people. It can shape you from a young age and make you think that you have expectations to meet.

It can also negatively impact how someone might deal with their emotions. For example, the false stereotype that women are more emotionally sensitive may lead a man to feel as though he can’t speak out when he’s struggling emotionally, meaning that he’s left to struggle alone without necessary support. the

Conclusion

You really can’t stereotype based on gender, and although you might find it unproblematic, it can still be offensive to somebody, and that’s a problem. 

You’re never going to be fully educated on absolutely everything that’s right and wrong, I’m certainly not! It’s about making the effort to try to understand, and taking the time to educate yourself. People will always have a difference of opinion, there’s no avoiding that. It’s best to live your life without offending anybody or going out of your way to upset someone. 

Gender stereotyping can be really offensive and should just be avoided.

Feel free to share and take that first step of making a difference against sex role stereotypes.

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Whether you're married or just started dating someone, infidelity rates have risen by over 40% in the past 20 years, so your concerns are justified.

Do you want to find out if he's texting other women behind your back? Or if he has an active Tinder or dating profile? Or even worse, if he has a criminal record or is cheating on you?

This tool can help by uncovering hidden social media and dating profiles, photos, criminal records, and much more, potentially putting your doubts to rest.

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