Skip Nav
14 New Nonfiction Books By Women You'll Want to Read This Summer
Stop Freaking Out If You're 30 and Single! You Shouldn't Marry Till You're Ready Anyway
These Will Be the Hottest Wedding Trends of 2017

News to Me: Gender Roles Exist

Do you wear the pants in your relationship, or does your partner? A recent study proves that silence is golden but only for women. Jennifer Sellers, an assistant professor of psychology at Green Mountain College in Vermont, gathered 95 participants of equal parts men and women to view four videos of couples in conflict, some with a more dominate female, and some with a more dominate male. Both the female and male viewers were more critical of the relationships where the female partner was verbally assertive. They viewed the submissive men as less competent than their female counterparts, but when the man stepped up to the plate, the viewers changed their tune and ended up liking the couple.

According to Sellers, as much as we hate to admit it, we take heed of gender stereotypes. We've grown accustom to the man being the dominant and assertive partner in the relationship, and if they come short of that stereotype, they are considered less manly by both men and women, a characteristic guys don't take lightly.

I'm not one to stay silent in relationships, but I do agree that these predisposed gender roles exist. So what do you think? Do you think silence is key for women in a relationship or do you like to be the more dominant partner? Do you find yourself more attracted to men that like to wear the pants or are you indifferent?


Join The Conversation
erratic-assassin erratic-assassin 9 years
I do what I want, when I want & how I want... but I love that my boyfriend makes decisions and takes control of's a turn on for me. But he always considers my opinions and thoughts... ahh...YEAH, he's perfect.
Silje Silje 9 years
Hmh, how can they have gathered equal parts men and women when there's 95 participants? One was half man, half woman? Gay? me and my man are just about equal in our relationship, but not quite, I am the most dominant ;)
M155-J4CK13 M155-J4CK13 9 years
Some of you need to go back to Feminism 101. I second facin8me's question: What type of predisposition are you implying?
demeter demeter 9 years
I, myself don't like to be dominant. I love it when the guy is. It's insanely hot.
Bookish Bookish 9 years
My husband and I have a very equalized relationship. Neither one of us seeks to dominate the other. We treat each other as equals, both our wishes and dreams have equal weight and importance, and so on. If there's a decision to be made, we make it together, as logically and fairly as possible. I know women who like to be "put in their place". I feel a bit sorry for them. It doesn't seem like a fair and equitable relationship when one person is being continually devalued or held in check.
Marci Marci 9 years
Oh, it would be an impossibility for me to keep my mouth shut. I'm very verbally expressive, so that comes with the territory for anyone getting involved with me. I've had problems in relationships as a result, though so there could be something to that study. But my fiance and I are very much on a par that way and it's working incredibly well.
Muirnea Muirnea 9 years
lily3484- that is so awesome, and I completely agree with you. I think that when both of the people in a relationship feel like you do, that relationship will be SO strong, because then both people are truly in it because they just "enjoy" the other person, if that makes sense. Neither person has to worry about anything, because no matter what happens, whether the people end up together forever, or are better off with someone else, they will both be ok with that, and there will be no drama. I think feeling like that is a sign of complete maturity and confidence that will make any relationship run smoothly (and that few people can or ever achieve). kikidawn-that is so awesome too!!!!!!! I would love to take a class like that, and I consider myself a feminist too!! :D I think my bf thinks of feminists in the bad way, grrr, I am "fixing" his thoughts slowly but surely though, LOL :-P :). As for the actual question, I agree that gender roles exist, but I don't like it. It think these roles exist because they are our basic instincts from when we evolved and lived "wild" etc. We don't need them anymore though, so we would like to have everyone equal because in our society it is very possible to live that way and it makes everyone happy, whereas in the wild, it might not work and someone needs to be dominate. We are humans and we can think and over rule our emotions and instincts now, so we should do it to make the world a better place. I think I wear the pants in my relationship right now...but I don't like that either. I want to be equal with someone, and like a few other posters have said, I need someone who will put me in my place every once in a while because I will get out of control. My bf is very submissive right now, and of course, other circumstances are in the way of fixing that right now...but, hopefully we will both feel equal soon and be able to put each other in our place when we need too, lol. Control should be split 50/50, I don't like having 90 right now. sry about the long post guys, lol, I feel very strongly about this topic. :)
facin8me facin8me 9 years
Where's our prize? Apparently my husband and I have attained the unattainable. I think at least we deserves medals or possibly even a sash of some sort.
kikidawn kikidawn 9 years
Erie, It has always drove me nuts too! My Soc of Gender professor asked all of the students what they think a feminist looks like... well no one would answer so she said last semester someone said this "a men-hating lesbian w/ a buzz cut wearing Birkenstock's and camouflage pants"!! And the all of the students kind of nodded their heads... I was absolutely amazed! I couldn't believe the misconception that everyone has. The whole feminazi idea that you spoke of. And yeah big fan of OU... I actually live in Norman too! (going to school at OU)
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
Society does look at strong minded women who "wear the pants" negatively, because in truth its seen as off putting and unnatural. The men that "follow" those women are seen as wimpy and unmasculine. I come from the school where there cannot be "equal" gender roles, it doesnt work that way. Men and women are so different in the way they nuture and lead and the way they feel or react that to be equal is unattainable.
ErieIndiana ErieIndiana 9 years
Kikidawn, I'm so glad you are learning about that! Feminism is such a commonly mis-used that it drives me CRAZY! Especially the term feminazi, depicting those who vehemently strive for equality as nazis. Interesting icon too, I live in Norman.
lily3484 lily3484 9 years
READ THIS LADIES! IT SAVED ME A LOT OF TIME!! Over the past few weeks, I have come to realize what it really means to be in control. I always thought I was one to speak up when in a relationship. If I was concerned about something, I would voice it. It wasnt until my recent "issue" with my bf that I realized that all this time, I have in fact be the one driving in the passenger seat. Now, I have learned how to be the driver and I love it! It is so empowering. I dont think its about being in control in the sense of demanding things or being superior to your partner. This may sound cliche but its about loving yourself and realizing that you are the "prize" in the relationship. My bf was contimplating taking a break in the relationship. We havent been having any major issues but we have been together a long time and he wanted to see what else could possibly be out there. I took this in and was hurt but I felt like I couldnt show this, I needed to let him know that I appreciated his honesty (after all, its better then cheating). I decided that instead of going back and forth over what his fears are, I would let him own the fear and deal with it. This isnt my problem its his. So, I have given him some time to contimplate what to do and the fact that I appeared completly in control and confident about whatever the outcome might be (even though I was freaking out inside) I gained control. We are now taking a few days apart, where he can think through what he wants to do and then I will deal with that then. I know there is a possibility that I will loose him, but the truth is I will be completly fine on my own. So love yourself and realize what you are worth! Im so glad that I am aware of this and I want every girl to know it!
facin8me facin8me 9 years
"I'm not one to stay silent in relationships, but I do agree that these predisposed gender roles exist." I'm sure by predisposition you're referring to the societal conditioning of men and women and not a genetic predisposition. "Do you think silence is key for women in a relationship or do you like to be the more dominant partner? Do you find yourself more attracted to men that like to wear the pants or are you indifferent?" Funny that being an equal isn't one of your choices.
Choco-cat Choco-cat 9 years
Fortunately, both my husband and I are very aware of such gender stereotypes and don't care for them - and we don't care how other people view us either.
krampalicious krampalicious 9 years
i'm independent, ambitious and strong-willed, and those are just three of the reasons my bf loves me. he understands that i will most likely be more successful than him in life and he's fine with it. i've had several relationships end based on that kind of intimidation/feelings of emasculation, so it's refreshing to be with someone who respects me and what i want to achieve in my life. it's not necessarily that i "wear the pants" in the relationship, we're definitely equals, but i will most likely be the main breadwinner if we get married. and both of us are just fine with that.
Beauty Beauty 9 years
I think all that this study shows is that people generally criticize women who speak their minds. So I think the real question is, Why do we accept gender roles so easily?
princess_eab princess_eab 9 years
Everybody needs to be themselves in a relationship! At the same time, I come from a very traditional family and I am usually subordinate in friendships, so I always want a strong male partner. There are things I value in either sex that I do not have enough of that I need my partner to have: assertiveness, self-confidence, strong work ethic, etc.
Kristinh1012 Kristinh1012 9 years
I don't like to NOT get my way and I'm never wrong :). I'm terrible at keeping my mouth shut. But I wouldn't like it if my BF let me walk all over him. He knows how I am and lets me do my piece until he's had enough. But he's not silent either. He will let me know immediately if I'm out of line or just wants me to Shut up already. I also do my best that if we are in public or with friends/family, I let it seem like he's the one that "wears the pants" even though all of our friends know me very well and how I am.
Le-Luxe Le-Luxe 9 years
I once wore the pants in a relationship and it drove me nuts, I just felt like my ex was the woman and I was the man or something. Just a weird thing. I like it when the guy takes charge, but I am not one to back down or let someone push me around either.
kikidawn kikidawn 9 years
Well, I am pretty dominant, but so is my b/f ... we're equals ... if we have problems we will talk it out. But this is so interesting b/c I am just now wrapping up taking a Sociology of Gender course and I just learned all about this and the gender stereotypes and sex scripts that go on in our culture! ErieIndiana, my boyfriend and I are also both feminists (although he likes to use the word 'humanists') and believe in equality. My Soc of Gender teacher (just yesterday) had a lecture about feminism. She asked the class how many believed in equal access to education for men and women, equal access to jobs for men and women, equal pay for men and women that are doing the same job, etc and everyone raised their hands (about 100 ppl) and then she asked how many you consider yourselves to be feminists and only me and 3 other people raised their hands!!! She told them, 'Well actually you all are'. But that word 'feminist' is so intimidating for people - so many people don't realize it means equality for all people it does not mean putting women before men. Sorry to go on forever about that... but I find it interesting! I love looking at dynamics between females and males -and then dear posted this so I had to comment! lol :)
fashionhore fashionhore 9 years
I am the dominant person in my relationship as well, but that doesn't mean that my boyfriend is super silent and submissive either. I just have the more dominant personality out of the two of us.
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 9 years
I like that I am an independent and upbeat person, but once I'm in a relationship, I get submissive and reserved. I don't mind being with a dominant guy, because it makes me feel secure at those times when/if I need that, but the last thing I ever want is to be controlled.
watereatsrock watereatsrock 9 years
I(female) am the dominant one in my relationship, but that doesn't mean I have the upper hand.
brookrene brookrene 9 years
SummerBaby, i so totally understand!!! Exactly word for word thats me too. haha!
Greggie Greggie 9 years
I'm not the silent type, but I have no problems with my marriage being the man as the head of the household, the woman as the heart. That certainly doesn't mean I keep my mouth shut, though. The heart and head can't work independently and make a well-run body. Basically what it means to me (and I don't mean to imply that I think this is how all marriages should run, we all have our own dynamics) is that if we disagree, we both have input but his decision is final. It also means that I wouldn't have married him if I didn't trust that when he made that decision, he'd listen to my input and take that into account. Although many don't understand the whole thing overall, I still feel we're equals.
Gay Couple Re-Creates Pride March Selfie
#IBelieveYou Supports Sexual Assault Victims (Video)
What Makes a Relationship Last?
Things That Women Appreciate
From Our Partners
Latest Love
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds