Sex Stereotyping

sexual stereotype, sex stereotyping

The sexual stereotyping of men and women has a profound impact on our society. From sex stereotypes about men in relationship to stereotypes of women’s sexuality, these prejudicial attitudes affect us all.

Due to the advances made in recent years to establish equality between the sexes, society reflects fewer attitudes that support discrimination and inequality between men and women. Most of us espouse a point of view that is liberated from old sexual prejudices that once bordered on racial bigotry. However, even though we are liberated in our beliefs and attitudes, many of our actions are still influenced by sex stereotyping and misconceptions about men and women that have been passed down through the generations. In spite of their stated values, a surprising number of people today relate to each other based on a sexual stereotype.

We learn prejudicial attitudes at an early age from observing the stereotypical roles that people in our families assume. As we progress through school, these attitudes are reinforced by our classmates and peers. They are also supported by the unspoken biases of our teachers and by the arrangement of educational programs.

The media is guilty of exploiting the differences between men and women and of exaggerating sex stereotypes of men and women to sell products. Sex is treated as a commodity to be exploited for profit.

The residuals of these sexist prejudices in our lives today portray men as masterful, powerful, paternalistic and uncommunicative, and women as emotionally responsive and communicative, yet childlike, helpless and incompetent. These distortions of the sexes are divisive, and interfere with our being intimate and loving in our close relationships. The social pressure exerted by these attitudes is as damaging to couple relationships as racial prejudice is to relations between people of different ethnic backgrounds.

Each sexual stereotype confuses people’s thinking about the differences between men and women. These timeworn attitudes overstate the qualities that distinguish men and women, and place the two sexes in artificial categories.

Common Sexual Stereotypes of Men:

Men are tough and powerful.
Men are unfeeling and insensitive.
Men are logical, sensible and rational.
Men are afraid to commit in a relationship and form an attachment.
Men are primarily interested in their careers or vocations.
Men do not have a primary interest in marriage and parenthood.

Common Sexual Stereotypes of Women:

Women are helpless and childish.
Women are sensitive and intuitive.
Women are scatterbrained, unstable and irrational.
Women can easily form deep emotional attachments.
Women do not have a primary interest in their careers or vocations.
Women are primarily interested in a long term relationship and parenthood.

When we look at the way society sees men and then at how it views women, we can see that society actually pits men and women against each other.

Watch American feminist, ethicist, and psychologist  Dr. Carol Gilligan describe cultural stereotypes of men and women:

Some sexual stereotypes that pit men and women against each other include:

Men are tough and powerful, not helpless and childish like women.
Women are sensitive and intuitive, not unfeeling and insensitive like men.
Men are logical, sensible and rational, not scatterbrained, unstable and irrational like women.
Women easily form deep emotional attachments, they aren’t afraid to commit in a relationship and form an attachment like men are.
Men are primarily interested in their careers or vocations; these are not secondary interests as they are with women.
Women are primarily interested in a long term relationship and parenthood; these are not secondary interests as they are with men.


How does a sexual stereotype impact sexuality?

There are stereotypes about women and men that specifically pertain to sexuality. Society views a man who does not comply with these stereotypes with suspicion. “What’s wrong with this guy? He has no balls.” A woman who does not comply with these stereotypes gets chastised. “Get a load of this slut! She’s a nymphomaniac.”

Sexual stereotypes about men and women that pertain to sexuality include:

Men are more sexual than women.
Women are not that interested in sex.
Men have more sexual experiences and fantasies than women do.
Women are not as sexually active and don’t think about sex as much as men do.
Men are more sexually aggressive and more sexually oriented than women.
Women are more passive sexually and don’t want sex as much as men do.
Men are more random and want variety more than women do.
Women are basically monogamous.
Men are impersonal in their sexual encounters; they relate to women as sex objects.
Women are not interested in a casual sexual encounter. They only want to be sexual if they are in love with the guy.

Debunking a Sex Stereotype

In truth, men and women are more alike than they are different. Both men and women have essentially the same desires in life and seek the same kinds of satisfactions with each other. Both want sex, love, affection, success, dignity and self-fulfillment. They want to be acknowledged first as unique individuals, then as men and women.

Some truths about men and women are:

Most men and women are feelingful and emotionally expressive. Most also struggle with their defenses against feeling.
Most women and men are interested in business, finance, scientific ideas, mechanical matters, politics and abstract ideas.
Most men and women are interested in domestic activities such as design, cooking, childrearing and fashion.
Most women and men find satisfaction in having a career or vocation.
Most men and women place importance on their identity as a sexual person.
Most women and men desire a sexual relationship that includes emotional and physical intimacy.
Most men and women have a strong desire for a lasting affiliation with the opposite sex.
Most women and men have a strong interest in procreation and parenthood.
Most men and women have a very strong desire to be in love with each other.

Do you have a sexual stereotype of yourself?

Sadly, men and women buy into the stereotypic views of themselves. As a result they are not only the victims of these prejudices but they are co-conspirators in perpetuating the very attitudes that are destructive to them and limit them in their lives and their relationships. Men buy into the belief that they are stronger, bigger and better while women buy into the belief that they are weaker, frailer and less. They bring these distortions into their relationship so that the man gets to be the hero and the woman gets to be saved.

Unfortunately for all parties concerned, men and women must then conduct their lives to preserve these illusions. He must be the best all of the time. He cannot falter, be fearful or insecure. She must be submissive and less. She cannot be powerful, self-sufficient or independent. Men and women must manipulate each other in order to preserve these illusions.

Men develop vanity to maintain their superiority. Thus they demand an unrealistic build up from their partners of being better than all other men and preferred at all times. Women develop a victimized approach to life in order to maintain their powerlessness. Therefore rather than assert themselves to achieve their goals, they manipulate their mates with indirect maneuvers such as weakness, helplessness and emotionality.

Men and women are betraying themselves when they adopt these defensive approaches in their relationship. The more a man relies on the build-up of vanity, the more he rejects the part of himself that is sensitive and vulnerable. As the split within him becomes greater, he becomes more and more alienated within himself. The more a woman relies on indirect manipulations to achieve her goals, the more she rejects the part of herself that is strong and powerful. As the split within her becomes greater, she becomes more and more alienated within herself.


About the Author

PsychAlive PsychAlive is a free, nonprofit resource created by the Glendon Association. Help support our effort to bring psychological information to the public by making a donation.

Related Articles

Tags: , , , , , , , ,



Most men are afraid of showing their true selves because they aren’t allowed to show what would be construed as weakness.So they act “macho” to show there aren’t any “chinks in the amour”.There are so many men putting on acts it’s unbelievable.Some men feel as if they have to work at manhood, not understanding that God has given them everything they need to be men. I think manhood has more to do with who you are spiritually as opposed to physical prowess.If your strong spiritually, the physical aspect takes care of itself.


Lies are planted in men’s minds from childhood,(you are a man and you are not supposed to cry. The child may be anywhere from 3-6 years old when this lie is planted)Some parents make their boys fight so they will be tough or perhaps abuse them for the same purpose. They get these lessons from other males in the family who were also misguided.


Crying sucks! I have never felt getter from crying! As a matter of fact crying is just wasting time. Accept the situation and make changes to correct it then have a beer!


My boyfriend and I resently broke up.
Gender Sterotypes where a definat contriber to the tenchion we felt when we where together.
I am not a “girly girl” I don’t like the romantic jushy stuf or touching. I want a currer not marage and I like to feel incontrol of my self and my life.
My ex was as “girly” as it gets he wore flowery bloses and wove flowers in his hair.He loved the romantaic jushy stuff and was despert to get married and have kids even though we are still in high school.
Even though he wasn’t the “typical” male he expected me to be the “tpical”
girlfriend.He said that the role of a girlfriend is to touch the man and to comite to staying at home razeing kids.Since I didn’t want that he was constantly questoning wether I liked him aswell as his own masculinaty.Becase of his own insacerety he tried to be more domunat and made me feel like there was something wrong with myself.I tried to be more femain and to groval to him becase I felt like I wasn’t a good girlfriend.

I was allso gilty of sterotyping.At first I enjoyed his femane side(though I admite I was creeped out when he said he’d like to whare a dress to prom)
and liked the strange aspects our peclarties brought to the relitionship.Near the end when I was feeling bad about not being femain I started to wish he was more like other boyfriends I saw.I was tiard of everyone assuming he was gay.I wished that he’d help me carry sacks of manurer and dig trenches with me insted of spending twenty minets trying to show me how to put flowers in my hair and protessing helping me with the bags of manurer becase it was so icky.I felt insicer about our relationship and about the constant tesing that my boyfrind was gay.I started teassing him about his massculinaty and that made him feel worse and try to be even more domonering.
I’m glad it’s over I jst wish I cold of been more femaen and not tease him about his maskalinaty.
stareotypes damaged our relationship.
Ps.I know my spelling sucks please don’t flame me for it.


This article rings all sorts of truth for me. Also has helped me to discern my own role in how I present myself and how we need not give in to stereotypes or to expect certain types of behavior based on image. Thanks for sharing!


I’m looking for some stereotypes about sexual relationships in Game of Thrones, I was wondering if anyone could help find some or give hes own opinion about it? Thanks! (my spelling ain’t good, I’m belgian sorry)


This is a wonderful article. What’s also greatly disturbing (to me) is the tomes of pseudo-scientific literature perpetuating these myths. My partner’s happiness and emotions are very important to me but then I read an ostensibly scientific study claiming that as a man I’m incapable of empathy towards my partner. Either I’m deluding myself into thinking I’m good emotional partner for her or this is simply hateful hurtful misandric propaganda. It causes me a great deal of distress and self-loathing to be haphazardly painted as an uncaring unfeeling subhuman on the basis of my genitals.


…and yet failure to uphold each of the stereotypes listed in the article leads to ruinous failure when it is time for sex. Even the staunchest, most rabid feminist will admit that a man without the obviously masculine traits listed above will “not cut it”. So I suggest a dose of humility before you try to advocate for egalitarian projections! Humility to recognize that everyone’s lizzard brain is immune to ethics, gender politics and other similar “drivers”. By the way, the reverse is even true – most men won’t stand a masculine woman…


The promotion of sexism in videos is a disservice to society All these relationship gurus harm relationship and hinder individual sexuality

One outright lie of these gurus is ” women aren’t visual ” this belief is nonsense and should be exposed as a lie

Your article is awesome!

Yuki Belmont

Thank you for this article, i always hated so much the stereotype that men want more sex while women want more affection, i am male but i never cared about sex like at all but i always wanted affection such as hugging and there are women (especially in the united states) that care only about sex and do not care about affection at all, seeing that particularly horribly outdated stereotype that puts a black and white wall between the two genders/sexes is incredibly annoying and feels so offputting

Yuki Belmont

And also to add it is very common for males in general (especially outside of the west) to be more in the affection side, so these stereotypes are just harmful and because they place everyone in a box and give the wrong impression

Leave a Reply