The New York Times reports on the role of gender in marriage

This article from The New York Times summarizes some findings from studies examining differences between same-sex and heterosexual relationships. The author states that most studies have found “few differences between committed gay couples and committed straight couples.” However, some of the findings suggest that same-sex relationships tend to be more equal because they don’t involve traditional gender roles:

Notably, same-sex relationships, whether between men or women, were far more egalitarian than heterosexual ones. In heterosexual couples, women did far more of the housework; men were more likely to have the financial responsibility; and men were more likely to initiate sex, while women were more likely to refuse it or to start a conversation about problems in the relationship. With same-sex couples, of course, none of these dichotomies were possible, and the partners tended to share the burdens far more equally.

While the gay and lesbian couples had about the same rate of conflict as the heterosexual ones, they appeared to have more relationship satisfaction, suggesting that the inequality of opposite-sex relationships can take a toll.

“Heterosexual married women live with a lot of anger about having to do the tasks not only in the house but in the relationship,” said Esther D. Rothblum, a professor of women’s studies at San Diego State University. “That’s very different than what same-sex couples and heterosexual men live with.”

It is a generalization to suggest that all same-sex relationships are equal while heterosexual relationships aren’t, but the article raises some important points and will hopefully cause readers to think more critically about the role that gender plays into relationships. The article challenges essentialist views of gender and encourages readers to recognize that men and women are socialized into different roles. One researcher came to this conclusion:

“Like everybody else, I thought this was male behavior and female behavior, but it’s not,” he said. “That means there is a lot more hope that you can do something about it.”

I disagree with the statement, “like everybody else,” since feminists often discuss the social construction of femininity and masculinity, but I agree that it’s important to be aware that gender differences are not always biologically based.

I haven’t read the studies mentioned in the article, so it would be useful to know the methods that were used and other details about the studies. Also, one commenter on Feministing challenged the findings mentioned in the article, so I’m interested to know what other researchers have found.

Via Feministing.


June 11, 2008 - Posted by | Feminism | , , , ,

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