How Sexism Is Literally Ruining Women’s Sex Lives

Posted by on June 28, 2017 in Conscious Living, Relationships & Sex with 1 Comment
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Upset woman sitting on the bed

By Erin Coulehan | Salon

I have some bad news for women everywhere. Sexism is literally ruining our sex lives. According to a new study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, women who perceive their partners as sexist and selfish are significantly less likely to orgasm during sex. Yikes.

Related Article: One Woman’s Story of How Sobering Up Affected Her Sex Life


For the study, researcher Emily Harris at Queensland’s School of Psychology collected data from heterosexual female participants from two studies. The first set of data came from a previous study that measured men’s and women’s sexual and social attitudes as well as sexual history, while the second study recruited participants fromAmazon’s Mechanical Turk.

The first study helped define sexism using the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory to measure varying levels of hostile and benevolent sexism. Hostile sexism can be described as overt disdain for women, basically run-of-the-mill misogyny. Benevolent sexism is a bit more fluid, and therefore less easy to spot, let alone define. According to Harris and her research team:

“Benevolent sexism assumes female passivity and romanticizes the belief that women should be reliant on men. In this way, benevolent sexism is argued to be a form of legitimizing myth, whereby prejudicial attitudes toward women are justified through the guise of care and protection.”

This “guise of care and protection,” therefore, leads to a lack of women being taken care of in the bedroom.

The research found when a woman subscribes to benevolent sexism ideals while also being involved in a romantic relationship in which the man was dominant, the woman is more likely to believe her partner to be selfish when it comes to sex. This could be due to an ongoing perception that sex is a wifely duty — or transaction — rather than a pleasurable activity for each partner to enjoy.

Once the levels of sexism were assessed, the scientists measured how selfish the women believed their partners to be in bed. The participants were asked to rate statements such as “Men care more about ‘getting off’ than whether or not their partner has an orgasm” and “During sex men care more about their own pleasure” on a scale of “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.” The women later answered questions about how frequently they orgasm and by what methods.

The researchers found a distinct link between a woman’s endorsement of benevolent sexism and fewer orgasms. The female orgasm can be an elusive thing due in large part to the mental and psychological factors that influence a woman’s ability to climax. If a woman believes sex is her duty, it’s unlikely her head space will focus on her orgasming, but rather fulfilling her duty as a wife so she can move on to the next task. Benevolent sexism isn’t a direct cause to fewer orgasms, but rather a contributing factor — one piece of a very complicated puzzle.

Related Article: Women: Here Are 10 Simple Ways to Be Better in Bed (and Enjoy Yourself More!)

The second part of the study collected information to measure how willing participants were to seek pleasure and ask for what they want during sex, based on the hypotheses that women with sexist partners would be less likely to seek personal pleasure during sex — the whole “wifely duty” mentality.

Once again, endorsing benevolent sexism was linked to reduced orgasm frequency because of perceived levels of male selfishness, compounded by the female partner’s tendency to be less assertive, or more demure, when it comes to willingness to ask for pleasure in bed.

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