Gender roles hurt everyone. They hinder people's ability to be their full selves, discourage people from pursuing their interests if they don't fit a stereotype, and shame those who embrace who they are. Gender roles even hurt our sex lives. Regardless of what gender you identify with or who you have sex with, chances are you've been constrained in some way by gender roles, in the bedroom and outside it. If your personality happens to match the traits assigned to your gender, there's nothing wrong with that, but a problem arises when people feel pressure to behave in certain ways.
"Gender roles can be detrimental if one or all partners are performing according to how they're expected to behave, rather than what feels natural and pleasurable to them, — emphasis on 'performing,'" sex educator Anne Hodder, ACS, tells Bustle. "Sexual pleasure is difficult to enjoy when you're in your head and playing a role, rather than participating and connecting, and expecting others to behave according to our own gender expectations sets us up for instant disappointment and can cause emotional harm to our partners. Traditional gender roles — ex. the idea that masculine people are naturally dominant, sexual animals and 'take' sexual pleasure while feminine people are submissive, nurturing, and 'give' sexual pleasure — establish an instant hierarchy and power divide between sexual partners, as well as the binary assumption that in every successful coupling, there's a feminine person and masculine person."
Here are some ways our sex lives are constrained and diminished by society's limiting gender norms.