More Traditional Gender Roles, More Sex

In this age of increased egalitarianism in work and domestic roles, many researchers have sought to discover how changing roles influence one component of the glue that binds married couples together—sex. Much media attention has been given to a handful of studies that demonstrate that husbands who do more housework get more sex, as their happy wives are more inclined to acquiesce to their husbands’ needs. Researchers from the Juan March Institute and the University of Washington, however, suspect that the reverse is true. According to their hypothesis, husbands and wives who do more gender-related tasks tend to experience greater sexual frequency. The researchers begin with the assumption that “greater sexual frequency is generally a desired good: conflict may exist over the timing and frequency of sex . . . but more frequent sex is linked to higher sexual and marital satisfaction for both men and women.” The belief that couples in more egalitarian marriages tend to be intimate more often is widely popular, say the researchers, but also based on “little empirical support.” Instead, the researchers highlight “the gendered nature of sexual scripts” and suggest that men who do more traditionally male tasks and women who do more traditionally female tasks will have greater sexual frequency in their marriages. Using a large, nationally representative data set that reports on both sexual frequency and participation in household tasks, the authors study both “core” and “noncore” household labor. Core household labor is that typically described as feminine—childcare, laundry, cooking, shopping, and washing. Noncore household labor is more likely to be masculine—outdoor tasks, auto repair, driving, and finances. The researchers used a negative binomial regression to study the relationship between these tasks and sexual frequency, also measuring for such influencing factors as religious affiliation, views on gender, marital happiness, and wh
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