Gender Display Versus Egalitarianism

The February issue of  the major journal American Sociological Review contains a study that answers the question: who has more sex in marriage?  People who divide chores equally or those who divide them on gender lines?

The answer is “gender display” trumps “gender equality” in terms of sexual performance.

At the heart of marriage is sex difference.  I would argue at the heart of female sexuality is a sense that men are protectors and providers not exploiters.  This doesn’t justify trampling your wife’s career dreams.  It means that gender neutral-ness is a recipe for relative asexuality:


Changes in the nature of marriage have spurred a debate about the consequences of shifts to more egalitarian relationships, and media interest in the debate has crystallized around claims that men who participate in housework get more sex. However, little systematic or representative research supports the claim that women, in essence, exchange sex for men’s participation in housework. Although research and theory support the expectation that egalitarian marriages are higher quality, other studies underscore the ongoing importance of traditional gender behavior and gender display in marriage. Using data from Wave II of the National Survey of Families and Households, this study investigates the links between men’s participation in core (traditionally female) and non-core (traditionally male) household tasks and sexual frequency. Results show that both husbands and wives in couples with more traditional housework arrangements report higher sexual frequency, suggesting the importance of gender display rather than marital exchange for sex between heterosexual married partners.