Gender Inequities in Household Labor Predict Lower Sexual Desire in Women Partnered with Men

Arch Sex Behav. 2022 Nov;51(8):3847-3870. doi: 10.1007/s10508-022-02397-2. Epub 2022 Sep 16.


Low sexual desire in women is usually studied as a problem, one that is located within women. However, other possibilities exist, including known gender inequities related to heteronormative gender roles. In this study, we provide the first test of the theory that heteronormativity is related to low sexual desire in women partnered with men, focusing specifically on inequities in the division of household labor. In two studies with women who were partnered with men and had children (Study 1, N = 677; Study 2, N = 396), performing a large proportion of household labor was associated with significantly lower sexual desire for a partner. Together, the results suggest that this association was mediated by both perceiving the partner as a dependent and perceiving the division of labor as unfair. These results support the heteronormativity theory of low sexual desire in women partnered with men, and show that gender inequities are important, though understudied, contributors to low desire in women partnered with men.

Keywords: Desire; Gender inequity; Heteronormativity; Household labor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Libido*
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Partners