Updated: Sep 5
Decoding the impact of gender inequity on sexual desire in women
The Link Between Household Labor and Sexual Desire
In a groundbreaking study, a connection was established between women's decreased sexual desire and their role in managing a majority of household chores.
Essentially, women who shoulder more household responsibilities perceive their partners as overly reliant on them, blurring the lines between the roles of a partner and a mother. This confusion of roles can dampen their desire for their partners.
The Role of Perceived Unfairness
Another interesting angle to this is the perception of unfairness. Women often view the uneven distribution of household chores as unjust. However, the major influence on decreased desire seemed to come from the perceived dependency of their partners rather than this perceived inequity.
Ironically, the University of Cambridge found that men, not women, benefited from a less traditional gender role divide in household chores. It’s reasonable to assume that men do not like to feel dependent and we now know from research that women do not enjoy feeling like someone is dependent upon them.
Which Chores Matter the Most?
While all household tasks affected desire, tasks like childcare, parenting logistics, and social planning had the strongest negative association with desire.
The common perception is that tasks like cleaning are more strenuous, but the invisible mental load women carry often goes unnoticed.
The mental load of chores goes beyond the mere act of performing household tasks; it encompasses the ongoing mental and emotional effort of remembering, organizing, and managing these duties.
Often taken for granted, this invisible labor can be a significant source of stress and can disproportionately fall on one member of a household, often women. The constant mental juggling—recalling what needs restocking, scheduling doctor's appointments, planning meals, or ensuring the laundry is done in time for specific events—can lead to feelings of overwhelm, burnout, and resentment.
This mental load, if not acknowledged and evenly distributed, can strain relationships and impact overall well-being.
An easy solution to create greater home management balance is for spouses to own a specific task from start to finish. For example, if one partner enjoys cooking, that same partner should own the responsibility of doing the grocery shopping and developing the meal schedule for the week. This also cuts down on the communication and coordination needed between partners to manage the house.
Related Reading: What Your Wife REALLY Wants
A Call to Re-examine Household Dynamics
The study emphasizes the importance of re-evaluating household responsibilities and their implications on relationships. It's not just about chores; it's about the underlying gender roles, societal expectations, and the balance of power within households. Addressing these issues is crucial for fostering healthier and more fulfilling relationships.
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Harris, E.A., Gormezano, A.M. & van Anders, S.M. Gender Inequities in Household Labor Predict Lower Sexual Desire in Women Partnered with Men. Arch Sex Behav 51, 3847–3870 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-022-02397-2